If the devil in Monster Hunter Tri's detail was an anal retentive so-and-so, the little voice in the back of Samurai Warrior 3's head is going "kill... kill... kill..." relentlessly and endlessly. Another of Nintendo's projects, the company is co-publishing Samurai Warriors 3 over here, just as it did with Monster Hunter Tri. And like Monster Hunter, the Samurai Warriors series is more popular than breathing in Japan.
To be truthful, it's not hard to fathom Samurai Warriors 3. Equipment can be fiddled with and item lists shuffled, but when you step onto the battlefield your job is to press A as quickly as you can, for as long as you can.
In the magazine's preview last year we mentioned the spectre of repetitive strain injury, and that's very much the case. This review is being dictated aloud to a willing typist - it was that or use our feet, for our hands are bandaged up after hours of furious Remote thrashing.
The main story mode has you selecting a character and leaping into a series of sprawling battles, all taking place in the Warring States era of Japanese history. Here's the first major obstacle to us lot getting it: all that talk of samurai, honour codes, slicing and dicing goes over most of our heads. Perhaps if the game was transported into the setting of the English Civil war (mud, rain, revolutionaries with warts and bad teeth) we might have more of a connection with it, though however you look at it big swords and severed limbs needs little translation. Perhaps if there was more to do in the game besides churn through a seething mass of human flesh, the question of whether we 'get' it wouldn't matter.
There are three types of attack. A handles the standard, sword-flailing attack, where the faster you pummel the button the faster the blade whirls. Down on the D-pad launches a Power Attack - a good one for when you get sucked into the middle of a throng because it whacks the enemy directly in front of you before sending out an energy ball which rips through onlookers. Most powerful is the Musou Attack, activated by squeezing B when your Musou gauge is full. Your samurai then spouts a load of garbage about destiny being fulfilled and duly goes berserk.
Then there are the smaller, supplementary attacks. The Spirit Attack, with a press of the - button, calls upon your fighter's unique spirit self to chop up soldiers. And then the Charge Attack makes you shoulder barge a brutal furrow through the battle field.
After getting an overview of the battle map, you're into the action. It all moves very well, with gangs and platoons running here and there depending on where the hotspots are. You have a main objective, which is usually chopping a mad general into pieces; secondary objectives, where you wipe out lieutenants and fortify strongholds; and tactical bonuses where you're rewarded with new stuff if you defeat an enemy according to certain conditions, like only using a Musou attack.
Yet despite the various means of amputation, it soon becomes clear that this is all you'll be doing, whether in the straight story mode, or in any other. Really its appeal is directly linked to just how bad a day you've had, and how many enemies you feel you need to smash.
Polished, good looking and suitably grand in scale, it's hard to shake the sense that Samurai Warriors 3 is a shallow experience.