We have previously covered the best musou games the Switch has to offer, so as a throwback, we will be taking a moment to look back on a few lesser known hits within the genres of both hack and slash and musou that are worth your attention. Everybody knows the hard hitting entries, from the One Piece: Pirate Warriors titles, to our beloved Senran Kagura instalments, Nintendo’s risque Bayonetta, and the original front liner of musou, Dynasty Warriors, therefore this list aims to mention certain hack and slash/musou games time has forgotten.
Berserk and the Band of the Hawk
As a fan of the incredibly deep and disturbing Berserk manga, dedicated fans of even longer have had it rough with the treatment of every type of material to come out from the franchise. From excruciatingly slow manga updates, to the disappointing CGI anime adaption, to lacklustre video game entries since 2000’s Sword of the Berserk: Guts’ Rage, there has been mistreatment regarding this beloved series for a while now. Come 2017, Omega Force would gratefully release this musou title in collaboration with Berserk and Koei Tecmo’s Dynasty Warriors.
It may not be the tie-in Berserk fans have wanted, but as an enthusiast for any hack and slash title, Berserk and the Band of the Hawk provides plenty more moments to connect with Berserk’s dear cast, with a story that spans across the Golden Age Arc to the Hawk of the Millennium Empire Arc. Unlike previous games of the franchise that features only Guts, players can also choose from Casca, Judeau, Zodd, Serpico, Schierke, and of course, Griffith, all with very different play-styles to suit each player’s preferences, and as replay appeal for hours upon hours of mindless fun.
Berserk and the Band of the Hawk is available on the PS4 and Steam (PS3 and Vita available for certain regions).
Blades of Time
Blades of Time (BoT) is a hidden gem for the PS3 and Xbox, in my humble opinion. After the developer’s release of X-Blades (BoT’s pre-sequel and poorer attempt at what BoT excels at), BoT is an extremely fun experience with its relentlessly fast-paced combat that always adds something new to the mix. For example, our main character Ayumi can go from swinging her blades around beautifully with acrobatic prowess, to gunning down heavy targets in a second’s notice by dashing around her enemies.
With combat as versatile as Drakengard 3, the title tries something different, and while janky at times, it only adds to its unusual charm. Add on top of this with time manipulation as “Time Rewind” to further spice up the combat and solves puzzles, then you’ve got a winner right here. Use Time Rewind to confuse hoards of enemies, fight using both your swords and guns, and wreak as much havoc as possible with as many copies of Ayumi in one busy screen of maddening action and watch her kick-ass in all her glory.
Blades of Time was available only on the PS3 and Xbox 360, until recently. Enjoy the thrilling combat on Steam and Switch now!
Ninja Theory, developer of better known titles DmC: Devil May Cry and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, were able to provide just as much of an engaging hack and slash game with Heavenly Sword back on the PS3. Heavenly Sword has the polish and production Blades of Time unfortunately did not receive, featuring a more engaging plot, and smoother and more refined hack and slash mechanics. This consists of the titular Heavenly Sword being used in three stunning forms: The Speed Stance, Range Stance, and Power Stance. Each offers different ways of overcoming certain stages within the game, with the game offering flexibility that caters to different styles of gameplay.
There are also stealth missions scattered throughout the game where players take control of Nariko to snipe targets, as well as Quick Time Events to keep the game constantly fast-paced and fresh. Heavenly Sword is one of the best games to have come out on the PS3 and despite being received well by both critics and players, it often seems to be unfairly overlooked.
Heavenly Sword is exclusive to the PS3.
I have not yet played a Suda51 game and not enjoyed the experience, and the same rings true of Lollipop Chainsaw. The product of a very surprising and unexpected collaboration between Grasshopper’s Suda51 and filmmaker James Gunn, known best for working on movies from the brilliant remake Dawn of the Dead, to the entertaining live action Scooby-Doo’s, and the beloved Guardians of the Galaxy installments. Jam packed with zombie movie trivia and references, and a script that screams cheesy, ironic and juvenile, Lollipop Chainsaw’s outlandish style and high fun factor makes it one of the most ‘guilty pleasure’ experiences in gaming to ever exist.
The game is loaded with an incredibly strong cast consisting of its leading, ditzy cheerleader Juliet, voiced by the talented Tara Strong, a memorable gothic viking boss Vikke, portrayed by the instantly recognisable Michael Rooker and Mindless Self Indulgence’s vocalist Jimmy Urine as the raging, loud rocking zombie boss Zed, to name a few. Now deemed as a cult game, understandably for its sheer wackiness, it offers gameplay that changes it up with many different mini-games and genres all jam packed into one level, from a third person shooter mini-game, to even putting our leading lady into an arcade game.
Lollipop Chainsaw can be played on either PS3 or Xbox 360.
Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes
Other than the series’ first ever title Devil Kings released on the PS2, Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes is the only other entry in the series to be localised. I find this an absolute shame, holding fond memories of playing this title from sunrise to sundown. With animation that holds up to this day, its colourful, memorable and fun loving characters have made this a musou title I find more engaging than any Dynasty Warriors instalment.
Players will immediately be pumped up for its over-the-top action with its opening theme song provided by the always incredible T.M Revolution. Its unrelenting action such as the animation for each character’s individual BASARA arts makes for a thrilling watch, and its ridiculous characters, examples being a gun wielding, gender bent Saika Magoichi are fun additions and wacky changes to its historical influences. Samurai Heroes will always have its quick action, swift combat and hours upon hours of entertainment as its selling point, and I pray for the day that this title gets as much attention as its anime adaption.
Sengoku Basara: Samurai Warriors can be played on either the PS3 or Wii.
Jack Black of Tenacious D fame stars in this original video game as the “greatest roadie of all time” (and eventual savior of mankind) in the land of the Age of Metal; Eddie Riggs.
If that’s not reason enough for you to pick this title up, rest assured that not only is the humour an absolute joy to experience, but Brutal Legend’s gameplay is amazingly addictive for what it is. As a hybrid mix between action and real-time strategy, you use Eddie’s battle axe to deliver electrifying hits to his enemies, cast spells with his flying V guitar, and then kick back in his hot rod to traverse a fantastical, rocking open world while running over even more fiends on a quest to restore peace to this alternative world’s inhabitants at the mercy of demon Emperor Doviculus. This dark, heavy metal inspired world was created by Tim Schafer, the mind behind cult games such as Psychonauts and Grim Fandango.
Featuring a vast amount of heavy metal references, especially evident in its cameo’s from Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister, to the one and only Ozzy Osbourne as the Guardian of Metal (who takes on the role of upgrading your equipment), this game is chock full of character and outlandish spectacle! I especially love the superb casting choice of Brutal Metal’s main villain, Doviculus, played by the always lovable and incredible Tim Curry. With such a stellar cast, this is a title I do not see mentioned often enough for some reason! To me, it’s a one-of-a-kind roller coaster ride from start to finish, with references a plenty for players who have an affinity to metal music and Jack Black, topped off with game-play that has no right to be as fun as it is!
Brutal Legend can be played on the PS3, Xbox 360, and Steam.
Have you played them all? Which hack and slash/musou games do you think are underappreciated? Let us know in the comments below!