Sengoku 3 is feudal fun!
Sengoku 3 is the final entry in the Sengoku series, a series of beat ‘em ups that featured a pair of heroes battling through modern cityscapes, as well as the heavens while battling a variety of demonic samurai from feudal japan. While the first three titles in the series were developed by ADK and released early in the Neo Geo’s life, Sengoku Legends 2001 was released eight years after its predecessor by Noise Factory. While Noise Factory could have cashed in on reviving an old franchise and did the bare minimum, Noise Factory decided to completely overhaul the franchise, resulting in a game that not only looks and plays better than any other game in the series, it stands out as the best beat ‘em up on the Neo.
The first thing you’ll notice when playing Sengoku 3 is the graphics. Huge, well animated sprites fill the screen. The four main characters you can choose from are all extremely detailed and feature flashy combos and special attacks. The stages are equally as interesting, with multiple backgrounds per stage, vibrant colors, and lots of enemies on screen.Oftentimes you’ll be fighting four or five enemies at once, and slowdown and flickering are uncommon in even the most chaotic brawl.
Sound and Music
Another area where Sengoku 3 shines is in the audio department. Sounds are crisp, impacts are full of bass, and the stereo effects are very impressive. Every hit sounds like it counts, and the voice and sound effects are all clear and distinct. The music is also very impressive, with tunes that are largely Japanese inspired, and fit the action quite nicely. The tracks are epic and memorable, setting the tone for the battles and generally fitting the mood of the stages very well.
While the original games in the series were traditional beat ‘em ups with a very limited moveset and linear stage progression, Sengoku 3 mixes things up by adding a deep combo system, four playable characters (plus two bonus characters who you unlock after defeating them), and the ability to choose the path you wish to take to complete the stages. The amount of variety is really unlike any other beat ‘em up on the Neo Geo, and the game is all the better for it. Being able to choose which order to tackle the stages determines when you can unlock some of the best characters in the game, which can potentially be a great help in clearing some of the earlier stages.
My only real gripe about the game play comes from even the most basic enemies having a bit too much health, and it can make it feel like the stage progression is a bit slow, but this is forgivable due to the fact that the combo system would be much less interesting if enemies took less hits to bring down. Stringing together long and devastating combos is the key to quickly clearing a screen, and it’s damn fun. Another issue is that the final boss is a but of a quarter muncher. He is completely devastating, but this is a bit of a norm for the genre.
While beat ‘em ups aren’t necessarily in short supply on the Neo Geo, Sengoku 3 is certainly the finest one on the system. Great graphics, excellent sound, and depth of fighting mechanics make Sengoku 3 the brawler to beat for the Neo. The game is a lengthy adventure, and great fun with a friend. If you’re looking for a brawler with some meat on its bones, Sengoku 3 is definitely worth your time.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: Neo Geo (Reviewed); Publisher: SNK; Developer: SNK; Players: 1; Release Date: February 12, 1991