With the games arena swamped by ninja warriors kicking each other to kingdom come it must be hard work for a software house to come up with yet another variation on this increasingly tired theme. But stone me for a bunch of bananas, 'cos someone's gone and done it.
It's ingenious really. Combine the single most popular type of game today (the aforementioned kicking variety) with a traditional old standby, the strategy game, and what have you got? The ancient Japanese strategy game, or Samurai, as CRL calls it.
Ah so, but where's the gratuitous violence? Well, Samurai is by no means a riproaring beat 'em up but it's not to be rejected on that account. And although it's a strategy game, you don't have to wade through a 400-page manual before you start killing people.
Yours is fundamentally a religious quest (now there's a new one). With your samurai and ninja warriors you battle against a fanatical sect of Zen Buddhist monks who, coincidentally, are notably skilled at various deadly martial arts. Each warrior has a stamina quotient and a certain number of steps he can walk each go. Combat swiftly ensues, and unless you've a substantially better battle sense than I have, you'll usually lose. The monks defend their temple with vigour and determination, and what's worse, there's more of 'em than you. There are three separate 'incidents' (battle formations, in other words) to keep you occupied, and three skill levels to silence the herberts. The screen scrolls nicely to reveal all current skirmishes.
I only have one small niggle [That's your problem! - Ed] and that's that the game's very playability may turn off the really hardened strategy buffs. Well, it might. But for the rest of us, for whom strategy games are too often a total snore, Samurai provides a pleasant change from joystick juggling...