While SNK was far more well known for its one-on-one fighting games, it did toss out a few beat 'em ups along the way. Some of the attempts were better than others: Sengoku 3 is one such example. It basically takes many of the solid gameplay perks of the first two games and amps things up considerably. Toss in a fresh coat of paint and some very well crafted tunes, and you get a much more well-rounded beat 'em up experience all round. Now gamers get a second shot at this solid and enjoyable Neo Geo title on Wii Virtual Console.
For the most part the gameplay in Sengoku 3 follows the fairly standard path used by many previous beat 'em up releases. You spend the majority of your time progressing your way through the various areas by dispatching all of the enemies in each section. Along the way you're able to destroy parts of the backdrops that will reveal special items and health. At the end of each area a boss awaits, with a few standard enemies also thrown into the mix to make things even more tricky.
You have quite a few attacks at your disposal. Not only do you have a regular weapon attack, but you can also pull off combos using your bare fists as well. As standard with many beat 'em ups, there's a jump move to help you avoid enemy attacks and maneuver around more effectively. The game features a few special attacks, too: a regular set and a super move called a Total Attack that can unleash a seriously strong attack on your opponent when the time is right. Projectiles also play a big role in the game, such as bombs and throwing stars, and they can be rather effective against stronger enemies in the game.
You can't help but appreciate the depth SNK injected into this third release. There's plenty of variety to be found for those willing to learn the game's systems and mix up their attacks. You've got plenty of firepower in your arsenal, you just have to learn how to most effectively make use of it. It controls smoothly and the difficulty is fairly well balanced, ever-increasing as you make your way through the areas. There are many who still prefer the first two releases, but it's difficult to deny that Sengoku 3 just feels a bit more meaty in the gameplay department.
The visuals in Sengoku 3 might not set the world on fire, but they're certainly better than previous releases. There are plenty of vibrant colors in the backgrounds and the special attacks, while character animations are extremely well done. It doesn't hurt that there's a lot of variety in the themes of the various countries you'll be trekking through.
SNK has pulled off some amazing music in many of its titles and Senoku 3 is no exception. The tunes seem perfectly fitting of the areas they're featured in and, while not as in-your-face as some of the music in many of the Neo Geo fighting games, it seems to balance very well with the game's superb sound effects.
Whether you liked the first two Sengoku releases or not, it's worth at least taking a look at Sengoku 3. The game has a surprising amount of playability and depth, and it features some really flashy special attacks and very interesting scenery to boot. There's still the age old problem of redundancy at times, as is common with most beat 'em up games, as there's not a lot of variety to the tasks you face throughout the game. Having said that, the experience is still worth at least one trip through the game, if only to see all of the crazy enemies and interesting backdrops strung around each area.