A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Skulls of the Shogun: Bone-A-Fide Edition is a downloadable turn-based military strategy game for the PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PC. Players assume the role of a recently deceased yet proud battle-obsessed general. Under his command, human skeletons fight each other with swords, spears, and bows, sometimes spilling blood. Characters frequently eat their defeated opponents' skulls to grow stronger. A couple of buxom female characters with deep cleavage are occasionally called upon in battle. It's a challenging game that forces players to think before they act, always in terms of military strategy with an eye to defeating enemies.
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What's it about?
In SKULLS OF THE SHOGUN: BONE-A-FIDE EDITION, players realize that it's just not possible to escape endless queues, even after you die. That's what General Akamoto discovers when he dies on the battlefield and wakes up in limbo to a line half a millennium long. A man of impatient temperament, he decides to fight his way to the front, gathering allies from the line and learning some surprising facts about his demise as he goes along. Feudal Japanese-style combat with swords and bows plays out in turn-based fashion. Each unit has a movement radius and can attack once each turn. But units can increase their health by eating the skulls of fallen enemies. Eat three skulls and they'll take on a demonic form, giving them an extra action each turn. New environmental elements, such as shrines from which fresh units can be summoned, and unit types are introduced as the campaign progresses, deepening the strategic options available to both the player and his or her computer opponent. Outside the campaign, players can engage in multiplayer fights online and locally on the same screen. The Bone-A-Fide Edition provides four additional levels, developer commentary, a new Tanuki monk that can rearrange the battlefield, and an island that keeps the same number of troops from level to level, making things tactically more challenging.
Is it any good?
This challenging strategy game will give even experienced game generals difficulty as they attempt to dominate the underworld with their unconventional undead forces. The coolest thing about Skulls of the Shogun: Bone-A-Fide Edition is how it removes the grid found in virtually every turn-based strategy game. Instead of moving a certain number of spaces, units can move anywhere within a circle surrounding them, then continue moving in a shrunken circle after they take their action. This allows for interesting wiggle room when navigating around objects in the environment and does away with the problem of one or two units blocking the rest of your army from reaching and attacking enemies. It takes a few missions to get a feel for it, and some elements related to this innovative style of movement could be a bit better explained during play, but it's highly empowering once you get a feel for it.
The game's unique charm goes far beyond its innovative play mechanics. Hand-drawn units and maps have a personality all their own, and the ridiculously catchy combat music will have you bopping your head during battles and leave you humming it once you stop playing. The smart dialogue is short and frequently funny. Turn-based tactics fans looking for something a bit different could do a lot worse. You'll also find that the bonus content in the Bone-A-Fide Edition is excellent. The newly added Forgotten Isles really stands out, especially thanks to the ramped up challenge to every stage with troops constantly being carried over. This provides a "see how long you can last" flair to each battle. If there was a weak spot within the Bone-A-Fide Edition, it's that the multiplayer seems to be virtually non-existent. That's to be expected for computer players or gamers on some of the older consoles, but you'd hope more people were playing the game on the recently released Switch edition. The missing multiplayer opponents aside, Skulls of the Shogun: Bone-A-Fide Edition is a great tactical strategy title that's received new life as it conquers a new platform.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what it means to be a soldier. Do you think it's hard for soldiers to go to war, even with their training?
Discuss screen time. How do you decide how many missions to play in a single sitting? If you lose a mission right before you planned on quitting, does that make you want to invest more time right away and try again?
- Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Windows, Xbox 360
- Subjects: Language & Reading: reading
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: strategy
Communication: friendship building
- Price: $19.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: 17-Bit
- Release date: July 11, 2019
- Genre: Strategy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: T for Violence, Blood, Suggestive Themes
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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