Review | Eduardo the Samurai Toaster

There's no story here. He's a samurai toaster. What more do you want?

There's no story here. He's a samurai toaster. What more do you want?

(Eduardo the Samurai Toaster, Semnat Studios, WiiWare)

When you were a kid, out to eat w/ your parents, did you ever take your cup to the fountain and fill it w/ every soda on tap? Sure you did. Remembering that, you’ve already got a good idea of what the visual aesthetic of Eduardo the Samurai Toaster is like. By far the game’s best feature, the art in Eduardo is wholly unique. Most levels have a distinct artistic style, and their variation and overall presentation is pure candy. That the action on-screen tends to cover up the essential beauty of the artwork can be frustrating at times. Your opponents, who appear to be primarily composed of evil napkins or something, are novel, but less impressive than their setting. Still, they look pretty okay in motion, and for a toaster with only 4 points of articulation, our young samurai is nicely animated. His motion on the screen is super-smooth, and there’s no hitching even when the screen is swarming with scores of enemies and twice as many projectiles.

The music is equally appealing, even if it occasionally steals a page from Samurai Champloo. It’s fast-paced and catchy, and compliments the gameplay nicely. Can’t say a word against it.

Eduardo the Samurai Toaster is a 2D side-scroller that’s part beat-em-up and part shooter. Eduardo’s primary attack is to fire supersonic toast at his opponents, but it’s not his only combat option: he’s got a devastating short-range slap and the ability to snag any projectile (even giant balls of energy) and fling them back at his attackers. The throw (which also works on normal enemies) is interesting from a control perspective, as the function is mapped to the B button on the underside of the Wii Remote, which you hold sideways like an NES controller. It’s surprisingly easy to tap the button despite it’s awkward placement, which is good, because the throw is Eduardo’s best move, both offensively and defensively. When the choice is either to get clocked by a flying spear or fling it back at its thrower, the choice is clear. Both the throw and the melee slap are slow, though, and you’ll find yourself relying on your Ronin toast to keep pace with the marauding hordes sent against you.

Eduardo received a variety of upgrades for his toast cannon, from the Contra-esque rapid- and spread-shots to the more prosaic seeker missile and shotgun toast. These latter two are the best, as they clear big groups and do a ton of damage, but you don’t get them often, so there’s incentive to use them sparingly to conserve ammo.

Pretty, neh?

Pretty, neh?

The game lets you jump to any level once you’ve cleared the preceding stages, and at that point you can choose from one of four difficulties, as well as how many lives you have, anywhere from 1 to infinite. The game provides a very wide arc of difficulties with these two settings, ensuring that you’ll face the exact challenge you’re looking for. It’s a bit more robust than just choosing difficulty, and it’s something I’d like to see more games adopt.

And then the honeymoon is over. Because underneath all its visual and auditory appeal, there’s no real game here. Eduardo the Samurai Toaster is, at it’s heart, an extremely simple side-scrolling shooter, relying on twitch button-mashing and massed enemy attacks. Things start out interesting, but the game runs out of tricks fast, and has no sense of pacing. Every enemy type is revealed within the first 3 or 4 levels, every power-up has been found a dozen times, and there’s still 10 or more levels to go. The art direction carries the game a bit further, keeping the player interested by presenting beautiful new locations in which to commit mass murder, but even that excitement pales as the levels start repeating themselves late in the game (not another black & white ink-sketch level!). Eduardo doesn’t know how to keep a secret, and he’ll spill all of them before you can even ask. The delight of discovery gives way to the relentless grind of shooting, jumping, and throwing, trying to keep your head above water.

One of the tamer moments in the last level.

One of the tamer moments in the last level.

Throwing staggeringly silly quantities of monsters at you is the last trick the game has, and it will use it over and over for the remaining 20 minutes of gameplay. Since the game only takes 30 minutes, you’re looking at boredom and frustration setting in after the first third.

Disappointing, really. I want to say nice things about the game, because I really like the presentation, but under the pretty visuals it’s generic and repetitive. Even co-op can’t alleviate the simple fact that Eduardo the Samurai Toaster is an incredibly dull game, with no life beyond its stylish face. Spend your money on something else.

This game rates: Apple. (What were you expecting, toast?!)

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~ by Matt Altieri on August 1, 2009.

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