Way of the Samurai is a PS2 game released in 2002. Set in 19th century Japan, the player takes on the role of a ronin named Kenji who wanders into a remote village and becomes involved in a conflict between rival clans. A known feature of Way of the Samurai game is the Choose Your Own Adventure style branching storyline, which allows minor decisions by the player to radically alter the course of the story.
It was released on PlayStation Portable on September 18, 2008 in Japan; prior to the release of Way of the Samurai 3.
Plot of Way of the SamuraiEdit
The story takes place in 1877, after the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the start of the Meiji Era, during the Satsuma Rebellion, a time when the samurai who were once at the top of Japanese society are all but outlawed. The game begins with the player, taking the role of a wandering ronin named Kenji, arriving in a fictional outpost called Rokkotsu Pass.
Rokkotsu Pass is a thinly populated village, whose main attractions contain a railway crossing, a small restaurant, and an iron foundry. Three separate factions are competing for total control of Rokkotsu Pass, each with their own agenda. The first is the new centralized government, whose army has been sweeping through the country securing power from the local warlords. The government army is well-funded and equipped with modern weaponry, including firearms and cannons, making them difficult opponents for the former samurai lords.
The second faction is the Kurou family, who previously held control in Rokkotsu Pass and continue to exert their influence on the people through extortion and intimidation. Lead by Tesshin Kurou, the family is resisting the government's attempt to take control of Rokkotsu Pass, however the samurai cannot compete with the modern army. In an attempt to secure funds, the Kurou intend to sell the iron foundry to the government.
This decision by the Kurou puts them in direct opposition to the Akadama clan, whose leader, Kitcho, is the illegitimate son of Tesshin Kurou. The Akadama wish to expel the government forces from Rokkotsu Pass, and plan to stop the Kurou family's attempt to sell the foundry.
Caught in the middle of this power struggle are the village peasants, who are likely to be oppressed regardless of who is in control.
Even though the story in Way of the Samurai follows the basic framework provided above, the actual events that the player participates in greatly depend on the decisions made whilst playing. Immediately upon entering Rokkotsu Pass, the player is confronted by a group of samurai (including Hachiro Tsubohachi) attempting to kidnap a young girl (Suzu). The player has the choice of helping the girl, joining the abductors, or ignoring the situation altogether. Each of these decisions will lead the player down a different path, resulting in a vastly different view of the main plot points.
The player's decisions will also have a direct result on Kenji's allegiance within the storyline. The player may choose to join either the Kurou family or the Akadama clan, to support and protect the innocent villagers, or to take no side and observe the events as an outsider with little direct involvement. The player may also choose to help one faction and then switch allegiance to another later in the game.
Resulting from these branching storylines, Way of the Samurai has six different endings; the particular ending obtained by the player is based on which faction, if any, Kenji has allied himself with and the actions taken during the course of the game.
- Kenji: Very little is known about the protagonist, aside from the fact that he is a samurai. Due to the nature of the game, Kenji's motivations are entirely decided by the individual player; he can be a selfless hero, shameless villain, or indifferent spectator. It should be noted that the player has the option of changing Kenji's name at the start of the game, as well as altering his appearance using various head and body models unlocked during repeated playing. Kenji's juvenile voice is played by Maokoto Aoki, his Young voice Yasuyuki Kase, and his Middle-Aged voice Yoshito Okuda.
- Tesshin Kurou: The patriarch of the Kurou family, Tesshin comes from a long line of samurai and is one of the most formidable swordsmen in the game. He has a famous sword named Dai-Kuronama. He is also the father of Kitcho -- Head of the Akadama Clan. Kurou laments the waning influence of the great samurai families, but can see little option but to provide for his family. He has been driving villagers out of the station for months so that he can sell Rokkotsu Pass and his failing iron foundry to the Meiji government. He is played by Yôsuke Akimoto.
- Kitcho: A charismatic revolutionary and head of the Akadama Clan -- a group of samurai who have recently arrived in the pass with the intention of overthrowing the Meiji government and bringing the samurai class back into prominence. Kitcho is the son of Tesshin Kurou through a previous marriage, and at least equal to his father in terms of swordsmanship. Kitcho opposes Kurou's treatment of the villagers and his plan to sell Rokkotsu Pass to the government, seeing it as surrendering to their enemy. He is voiced by Soichiro Shibata.
- Madam Murasaki: The wife of Tesshin Kurou, Murasaki is widely respected in Rokkotsu Pass, and is the first to discover the truth behind the Meiji government's interest in purchasing the iron foundry. Although the family credits her with revitalizing the Kurou family's dwindling fortune, she silently opposes selling the iron foundry. She is having an affair with Inokashira, the police officer. She is voiced by Natsuho Koda.
- Chelsea: An Englishwoman, Chelsea is a prominent member of the Akadama clan and hinted to be Kitcho's lover. She is deeply devoted to Kitcho and his dreams, and makes an unsuccessful assassination attempt on Tesshin Kurou, thwarted by Tsubohachi. She is voiced by Miyuki Sawashiro.
- Karibe: Another primary member of the Akadama clan, Karibe feels that the clan should strike out against the Kurou family, which leads to tension between himself and Kitcho. He has great sword skill but is volatile and unstable. He is voiced by Shusaku Shirakawa.
- Soichiro Shiretoko: A Kurou family's adviser who is trusted by Tesshin to do important tasks. Although he seems to prefer delegating tasks to lower level members of the Kurou, he is a formidable opponent when forced to draw his sword. He is voiced by Eiji Sekiguchi.
- Hachiro Tsubohachi: A Kurou family enforcer, he is one of the first people Kenji encounters when arriving to the pass. He is easily distinguished by the tattoos on his upper body (which appear similar to those used by the Yakuza). No matter Kenji's allegiance, Tsubohachi sees Kenji as a rival. He is voiced by Hiriomichi Ogami.
- Hyuga: A ninja who appears to work with the Akadama Clan, Hyuga is actually a government spy sent to manipulate Kitcho, persuading him to take control of the Rokkotsu Pass quickly, so when the Akadama Clan and Kurou Family clash, both forces will be weakened, so then the Meiji forces can take over without having to deal with much resistance. He is responsible for the animosity between the Kurou and Akadama Clans, making it easier for the Meiji Government to dominate the events in the pass. He is voiced by Satoru Tsugawa.
- Kintaro Kurou: The infant son of Tesshin Kurou and Madame Murasaki and half-brother of Kitcho. Although too young to have any significant purpose, he is also sought by Kitcho as he sees him as a future threat. He is voiced by Mai Nagasako.
- Josui Tamagawa: Commander of the Meiji Government army with a strong disliking to samurai. Tamagawa manipulates the various characters in an attempt to secure control of Rokkotsu Pass, as well as putting an end to the reign of the samurai era. He is voiced by Daisuke Egawa.
- Inokashira Mokichi: A police officer in Rokkotsu Pass, he is both arrogant and corrupt, using gun as his weapon of choice and accepting bribes at every turn. He is discovered to be in a secret relationship with Madam Murasaki. He is voiced by Masayuki Katô.
- Jose: A giant lackey employed by Inokashira, whose preferred weapon is a large bludgeon. Probably the physically strongest character in the Pass, but also the least intelligent.
- Gunji Dojima: The town swordsmith, the player may enlist his services to enhance the attributes of any of the swords collected during the events of the game. Dojima also participates in several of the plotlines, as he feels that the weak and poor are victimized by those around them and chooses to defend the villagers in the Pass. He is voiced by Okaasu Imaru.
- Suzu: One of the first people encountered by Kenji, Suzu is a waitress who runs Amaguri, a restaurant in the station. She lost her parents during the war, and was saved and raised by Kurikichi. She is frequently harassed by Tsubohachi who has a crush on her, she on the other hand is not interested. She is voiced by Ema Kogure.
- Kurikichi: Owner of the small restaurant named Amaguri in the Rokkotsu Pass station. Kurikichi saved Suzu when she was a child and raises her as his own daughter. Though he is hunched and sometimes can barely walk, he is resilient and refuses to be pushed around by the opposing factions. He is voiced by Yûji Ueda.
- Don Donatelouse (Dona Dona): A foreigner who wishes to be a samurai. Notable for his large afro, he is often referred to by the villagers as "Dona Dona" and has taken the role of protector for Suzu and Kurikichi. He is in love with Suzu, but cannot find the right way to express it. Though canonically he is a poor fighter, in actual gameplay he can be quite a formidable opponent. He is voiced by Daisuke Ono.
- Enzan Toyoko: Another ronin wandering around Rokkotsu Pass, Toyoko will sometimes provide Kenji, and the player, with useful information. He is voiced by Masajiro Choda.
Aside from the player's direct involvement in choosing the plot, gameplay in Way of the Samurai focuses deeply on combat. Fighting is done almost entirely with various samurai swords (or katanas) available in the game. Way of the Samurai features over 40 different types of swords, however the player begins with access to only one (bring Chuyo-tou). By defeating enemies, the player can then claim the slain character's sword to add to his or her own inventory. The player may only carry a maximum of three swords at a time. Once per game, the player may leave one additional sword with the swordsmith, Dojima, and have it delivered to their sword collection.
The player will frequently have the choice of whether or not to engage in combat with a specific NPC, however once combat is engaged the player is likely to be forced into fighting several opponents at once.
Kenji has a basic set of moves that are available with all weapons, consisting of a regular attack, a strong attack, a block, and a kick. There are numerous variations and combinations of the basic moves available depending on the particular sword equipped at the time. By defeating opponents or collecting special items Kenji can also unlock special attacks and combinations specific to each weapon. There are also several different fighting stances, depending on the particular sword equipped, each of which comes with its own fighting style. Certain swords contaim a special move, one being a rare sword that has the One-hand Sword Stance Kenji do a 360 reverse roundhouse kick followed by Kenji flipped over the enemy and slashes into the back before landing on the ground. Another, that has the Middle Sword Stance sees Kenji Slashes to the right, then to the left, then to the right again, followed by Kenji by turning 180 degrees and stabbing to behind him and as the enemy staggers forward, Kenji runs to the enemy's rear ended by slashing diagonally downward knocking him/her down.
There are even rather extraordinary weapons, including a scythe a magic staff. These weapons utilizes one of the sword stances, and either have very few of the moves that regular swords that have the same stance has. Others would have special movesets that only that specific weapon can have, one being the magic staff that utilizes psychic abilities that can make the enemy float in the air and/or explode from the inside.
Each of the swords available in the game has several attributes which influence its effectiveness when engaged in combat. These attributes can be enhanced using special items found in the game, or by visiting the in-game swordsmith.
- Sharpness: Attack strength, increases/decreases the amount of damage caused when an opponent is struck with the sword
- Flexibility: Defensive strength, increases/decreases the amount of damage suffered when the player is struck by an opponent
- Durability: Sword strength, increases the amount of heat the sword can generate before breaking (heat is generated by striking or blocking, and displayed using an on-screen meter)
- Life: Increases/decreases the total number of the players HP.