Sadame is a hack and slash, beat-em-up, RPG hybrid from the folks at Mebius and Intergrow. It’s available now in your Nintendo eShop for download to your 3DS.


Sadame takes place 100 years after Japan’s country-consuming Onin War, which saw the entire island ravaged by bloody civil strife. During that time, the country was divided amongst would be conquerors until 3 Japanese war heroes and strategists, Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu, banded together to unite the country under one rule.


Historically speaking, it didn’t go so smoothly.


But speaking in terms of grade-A gaming fodder, this rife-riddled period during Japan’s developmental years is chock full of heroes, famous battles, crippling betrayals, and oodles of mythology to tap into and skew.


On the Road of Destiny, There are Many Bumps…and Demons.


In Sadame you assume the role of 1 of 4 different characters, each with their own bonuses, special abilities, and limitations. You can wield a sword as a samurai, toss throwing stars as a ninja, call upon the forces of nature as a monk, or seek balance over all as a rogue.


With your character chosen and a little bit of semi-historical back story, you are quickly thrown into the thick of things as hordes of demons from Japanese mythology seek to over whelm you and do nasty things to your corpse as you chase down the game’s big baddies. Thankfully, you have at your disposal an arsenal of weapons and magic.


Physical gear is standard affair and will help you up your general defensive and offensive stats as well as grant bonuses specific to their class. Juggling which weapons and armor you want can be tricky but satisfying. Some items grant you new Karma and Spell powers. Karma and Spell powers are class-specific, magical enhancements that will help stack the odds in your favor. Using your magical abilities is accomplished by depressing the L or R triggers and then hitting the A,B,X or Y button, giving you the option of 8 magical abilities to use at any time.


As you progress through your game you will encounter bigger and better items that are categorized according to their rarity. Common items are great to start off with but quickly lose their edge against tougher monsters, forcing you to upgrade to Rare, Epic, and then Legendary gear. You should also keep your eyes out for hidden boxes and breakable walls as they may reveal hidden treasures or a merchant. Rescued merchants grant wondrous albeit expensive bonuses.


Hack, Slash, Rinse, Repeat

Like many hack and slash/beat-em-ups, Sadame occasionally suffers from that same old feeling. Upon entering any new area of the game, baddies will materialize from thin air and quickly surround you. You can maul an entire screen of enemies with well timed weapon-combos and magic spells. With the first wave down, another wave beams in. Beat em up. With the second wave down, a third wave beams in. Beat them up to gain loot and special items and then head to the next screen. Upon entering that screen, the first wave beams in etc.


Thankfully the difficulty ramps up as you progress through the game and the baddies become tougher the stronger you become. There are times when you really have to decide which baddie to clear out first in order to make the remaining goons easier to deal with. If you don’t, you can find yourself with your back to the wall, getting the crap beat out of you. Even with the increased degree of difficulty, you may be burdened by the grind of it all. Enemies don’t vary much aside from coloration and you will have to fight the same ninja, Kappa, zombie bowman, flying skull again and again. Thankfully there are bosses too.


The Bigger They Are, the Harder They Hit You

One of Sadame’s shining jewels is the boss battle. After wading through an entire level, it is a refreshing and welcome change when a boss the size of your entire screen drops into view. The bosses in Sadame are based either in Japanese folklore and mythology or from the Onin Wars spoken of earlier. You may find yourself fighting for your life against a gigantic, demon skeleton with fangs or against historical figures made into monsters. The bosses differ from one another in magical and physical attacks so you have to watch carefully and judge when and how to strike back.


If you are smart enough to best the boss, you will be rewarded with skill points, new armor and weapons and a Ky-Gyo point and ability.


Ky-Gyo A Go-Go


Sadame flexes its RPG muscles at the end of each level when you are able to customize, make changes, and power-up your character. The armor, weapons, sub-weapons, trinkets, and jewels you find during your journey can only be equipped at the end of a stage so you’ll have to survive a full level if you want to improve your character. You can equip items to change stats and abilities and work on focusing on offensive, defensive, and elemental abilities.


The Kyo-Go abilities map is laid out as an expansive skill tree where you are free to spend skill points on your character in any way you choose without restrictions. There are various categories to choose from, like increased defense, increased health, or stronger attacks and putting a point in such a skill unlocks new bonuses for that same skill. Adding to character customization is the inclusion of gem-placement. Some of your equipment will have shape-specific gem sockets which will allow you to imbue them with elemental or other bonuses so long as the gem you select is the same shape as the socket on your armor or weapon.


Down but Not Out

The stagnation that Sadame suffers from can be over looked due to its great boss battles and intriguing character customization options. But to get to either one of those, players will need to incur wave after wave of rather uninteresting and repetitive brawls. Even fans of beat-em-ups and RPGs may want to wait until Sadame drops in price but at 15 dollars a pop, it’s a stretch even for fans. While fun to a fault, Sadame stumbles more often than not.


Visuals: 7/10: Sadame’s tiny sprites are fun but it’s the screen-filling bosses that really make Sadame Shine. The game is well rendered and solid but the lack of variety in enemies and backdrops makes Sadame feel bland.


Controls: 8/10: Swapping between your Spell/Karma abilities is a snap and satisfying to execute. The overly-simplistic and uninteresting variety of combo-attacks that may wind up wearing your thumbs down a little, at least until you manage to unlock some of the more satisfying 8 link chains.


Audio: 7/10: Some enjoyable soundtracks and death sounds from bosses can’t drown out the same punch, kick, and smack sounds you will be surrounded by.


Replay Ability: 9/10: With multiple character classes, specialization paths, and in-game story progression choices, Sadame offers a happy amount of replay value. While you will need to keep wading through the same enemy archetypes, you may find more enjoyment the second time around with increased difficulty settings, new character classes, and new ideas on how to specialize your fighter.