Created by: ArCsLnGa StUdIoS
Date Released: January 2003
The late 90s obsession with Japanese culture and anime could be felt throughout many geocities/angelfire fan pages. Often you’d find gifs of SNK Fighters and anime chibi characters without a clue of where the webmaster got them from, other than they probably got it from a similar site themselves. Shattered Samurai is an amalgamation of that all in an RPGMaker game. I recall this topping a lot of download lists on various sites probably because of the title or its liberal use of Rurouni Kenshin images. Regardless, it’s a pretty subpar action game with a story that focuses heavily on the death of the main characters parents (and by heavily I mean literally every NPC references it).
The biggest memory that stuck out to me back when playing it in 2003 was the CMS (Custom Menu System). It was very flashy and elaborate and cumbersome. But the strangest thing is that almost every menu option had a sound effect of (presumably) the author reading them out loud. We can only assume the Kenshin background image are supposed to be the two main characters. The lens flare over anime aesthetic also contributed a lot to a perceived “cool factor” at the time. The ABS combat was sluggish. You could hit enemies if they’re 1 or 2 tiles away making for predictable encounters, but some fights did try to mix it up.
What makes this game a notable time capsule is its ambiguous Japanese setting. The home town is filled with cherry blossom trees, NPCs with conical hats, advice giving ninjas, and kanji scrolls on every wall. Yet main characters will have super western names like Jennifer or Charles, and very modern background elements. Probably the most RM culture part of this game is the house full of characters from other games and media. The writing is sometimes conceited though, often injecting samurai tropes whenever possible and proverbs that come off as wise for the sake of it. There’s a lot of staged conflicts without any particular purpose other than that’s what happens in an anime with lots of swords. It’s a huge misunderstanding of eastern ideals, but the game itself is like lens in which you can see into an anime fan’s mind circa 2002.
Shattered Samurai has been the community proclaimed “asian game”. It seems like the community (mostly gamingw) is seeing it as a bad thing. Guess were all the great RPG ever made come from? Japan maybe? Anyways as an Asian person, I personally loved the storyline about two rival clans. It seems to fit the anime type storyline from many great shows. Although the battle system has its ups and down, I think anyone would be crazy to say that it wasn’t unique and enjoyable. With excellent graphics and a high potential storyline, I just can’t wait for version 2 to come out.
This game was eventually completed at the tail end of 2002, although there is an earlier demo version and a sequel. Also I’m pretty sure I wrote a review on Dark Dominion claiming it ripped off Rurouni Kenshin and someone commented and defended the game. That’s about all I remember.
Estimated length: 3 Hours