Warriors Orochi
| Warriors Orochi

Not every meal you eat has to be a fancy seafood spread or perfectly grilled steak. Ordering in some Chinese food from the place down the street often fits the bill when dinnertime rolls around. Warriors Orochi is the Chinese takeout of gaming, then; a satisfying meal consisting of button mashing and hours of play. The flavour may not be all that sophisticated, but it hits the spot when you're in the mood for something hearty.

When the serpent king Orochi transports the heroes of ancient China and Japan to an alternate dimension, it's your job to mash those buttons in order to send them back home. Warriors Orochi combines Koei's popular Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors console franchises into one game (it was previously released on PS2 and Xbox 360), granting control of 77 different characters in the battle against Orochi's demonic army. Four campaigns – one apiece for the Three Kingdoms of old China and another for feudal Japan – offer stage upon stage of real-time button-destroying combat starring a veritable who's who of ancient East Asia.

During each stage, you control a warrior with the ability to switch among two other characters on-the-fly. Touted as the 'Team Battle System', you're able to tactically switch between your three warriors in order to preserve health, access special abilities, and regenerate Musou – a special attack gauge that enables you to perform devastating blows via the Circle button (warriors not in play slowly recoup lost health and Musou). Utilising this feature is vital to surviving the onslaught of soldiers Orochi throws your way.

Surprisingly, having to manage three characters in battle is nowhere near as complicated as you'd assume. Warriors Orochi retains the simplicity of any old hack 'n' slash game. All of your time is spent jamming on the face buttons, just with a tap of the D-pad thrown in every now and then to swap characters. As you defeat enemies, your fighters earn experience and can even equip new weapons found on the battlefield. It's a noble attempt to instill depth, but ultimately the game remains a shallow experience.

This isn't to say Warriors Orochi is a bad game. On the contrary, its superficial action is highly satisfying provided you're in the mood for such shenanigans. For a portable port, its gameplay and graphics strike a chord that exceed expectation and there's no question that it surpasses Koei's previous handheld efforts (not to mention many of its past console titles). When it comes to portable button-bashing, this is unquestionably your best bet.

The presentation, which was decent at best on PlayStation 2, shines on the PSP's smaller screen and you'll instantly appreciate the care taken to maximise visual quality. The in-game action also looks good, boasting dozens of units duking it out onscreen in gigantic stages both indoor and out. There isn't huge detail in the characters or environments, true, but the trade off is a silk-smooth performance – never does the game stall or slowdown. Even during multiplayer, it manages an even performance.

Lengthy load times are a factor in keeping things running without a hitch, though. Waiting a good half minute for a stage to load feels long but is understandable since you'll spend a fair amount of time fighting without any need for additional loading. Being forced to wait for menus to show up, however, is nothing short of annoying.

While the button-breaking combat lends well to portable play, humongous stages prevent Warriors Orochi from being a quick distraction on the train or bus. A considerable investment of time is necessary to complete stages – anywhere from 15-20 minutes for a small map to 40-50 minutes for the more involved missions.

Obviously this lends enormous value to the game, but it makes it unsuited for short session play. If anything, it'll be great for those lengthy summer road or plane trips just over the horizon.

Two-player co-operative battles via ad-hoc mode also make it an attractive offer for the coming sunny months. Plowing through waves of Orochi forces is far easier with a friend, although only the primary player gets to keep any experience and equipment earned.

So, cracking open the fortune cookie for Warriors Orochi reveals a solid game that counters its shallow play with countless hours of satisfying action. Granted, it may not be surf and turf, but when you're in the mood for Mu Shu pork, nothing else feels right.

Warriors Orochi

No-frills action makes Warriors Orochi a decent portable experience, especially with co-op multiplayer and the promise of hours and hours of enjoyable - if similar - gameplay