Developer: 17-BIT, Inc.
Price: $4.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
App Reviewed on: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★★
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★★
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

Death is a very common thread in gaming, though admittedly in most cases it is being used as a motivating factor that the player wants to avoid. In the freshly ported iOS version of Skulls of the Shogun, the focus is actually on what happens after the main character has left the land of the living. General Akamoto and his ragtag group of hoodlums are trying to fight their way to the proverbial pearly gates, one decapitation at a time. Naturally they face quite the uphill struggle, with plenty of amusing shenanigans along the way.

IMG_0227It is rare that the adjective “cute” would be applied to a strategy game’s art style, but in the case of Skulls of the Shogun it’s extremely appropriate. The hand-drawn aesthetic and sharp contrasting colors give it a lighthearted and comical feel, while still portraying violent animations. Combine this with meathead dialog from nowadays, and the obvious juxtaposition sets a mood that oozes personality at every screen tap.

Though the presentation may be carefree and humorous, don’t mistake this for a walk in the park. In fact, it may very well be the exact opposite. The underlying game engine may be one of the more satisfying adaptations of the genre in recent memory, but it still retains the brutal level of difficulty that fans would expect. Every step of the turn based combat must be meticulously planned and executed. Failure to do so will frequently result in an almost instantaneous backlash.

IMG_0228Further complimenting the game’s single player campaign, Skulls of the Shogun features online multiplayer as well. It even allows the player to pass online matches in between iOS devices, should they accidentally burn out their battery playing this gem on their primary device. But buckle up, because single player stages usually take at least 10-20 minutes per level. Just imagine how long that might be drawn out while waiting on some random stranger on the other end of the connection.

Calling a game an “instant classic” wouldn’t do a title like Skulls of the Shogun enough justice. It might be more accurately described as a slowly moving juggernaut of awesomeness that has been conquering the industry, one platform at a time. Rest assured that the iOS iteration is no exception to this trend. Frankly, why is anyone still reading this? Everybody should already be in the App Store, downloading the game. Seriously.


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