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Developer: Berk Box
Price: $0.99
Version: 1.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
User Interface Rating: ★★½☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★½☆☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

All manner of media has stories involving an underdog of some sort reaching their hidden potential and besting some sort of major enemy or something. Hence Samurai Tiger, with its anthropomorphic sword-wielding hero on a mission. It’s a solid setup, with some decent visual style, and a good amount of action RPG elements. And if it weren’t such a horrendous slog it might actually be kinda fun.

Samurai Tiger begins with players guiding the titular hero out of his tiny village and out into the wilderness. A wilderness full of hostile things, naturally. Dispatching enemies earns experience and cash like most ARPGs. Once a level is gained stat points can be distributed into things like vitality and agility, while cash can be used to buy new skills and equipment from the merchant back at home base.

The striped avenger has a fairly extensive list of abilities to learn (once the appropriate levels are reached), each with its own practical application in battle. The ice blast that can be acquired early on can be particularly useful for pulling weaker enemies out of a group to beat them down one-on-one. The way new gear like armor and weapons will show up on the main character is also a much-appreciated touch. It’s just the “playing” part where it all starts to go south.

To say that Samurai Tiger has some control issues would be undercutting the scope of it all. Attacking is hardly responsive, for one thing. Not only is it easy to get locking into a fighting animation, it’s also awkward to switch targets (via direct tap) which typically leads to swinging away in the wrong direction to no effect. This same issue also makes aiming ranged attacks incredibly difficult. Even worse than the control problems, however, is the repetitive nature of the gameplay. It boils down to basically taking a few tentative steps outside of the village, dying, restarting back from the beginning with experience and cash carried over, taking a few more steps outside of the village, dying again, etc. It’s a method that wouldn’t bother me so much if everything controlled better and didn’t progress in such pitifully tiny increments.

Addressing the supremely lacking controls would certainly go a long way to making Samurai Tiger more palatable. However there’s a fair number of numerous smaller tweaks (better aiming, smoother combat, improves flow) that are also fairly essential at this point. As-is, it’s not much to be excited about.

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