The digital-only Vita version of the game (Also on PS4) was released late last year but I forgot until I randomly found it on the PSN Store last month. I bought it and immediately started playing it…when I wasn’t playing Fire Emblem Fates or Pokemon Red/Yellow/Blue on my 3DS, anyway. I fully cleared story mode last week and then unceremoniously went back to working on SW4’s Chronicle Mode. Honestly, SW4-II shouldn’t have been a stand-alone game. For reasons I’d rather not think about, Koei Techmo felt just patching Naomasa Ii and his campaign into SW4 wouldn’t make sense even though HIS ARMOR is available as DLC Content in said game as well as SWC3 for CAWs (Create a Warrior).
Of course, Koei Techmo seemed to agree somewhat so they filled out SW4-II’s story mode with campaigns starring the characters first introduced in SW4: Koshosho, Kojuro Katakura, Yoshitsugu Otani, Kagekora Uesugi, Lady Hayakawa, Toyohisa Shimazu, Takakage Kobayakawa, Hisahide Matsunaga, Nobuyuki Sanada and Takatora Todo. Don’t worry: The main cast from the base game plus Musashi Miyamoto, Sasaki Kojiro, Okuni and Goemon Ishikawa–all four of whom are conveniently left out in terms of exclusive campaigns–are all available as playable characters. Interestingly, Gracia technically has TWO Campaigns: One starring Koshosho, the other starring Gracia, Koshosho and Naotora Ii. The second campaign requires clearing all of the other campaigns first to unlock. It is mostly fan service where only female characters are playable. Both campaigns’ final map is the same though in the second one, the other female officers you met along the way come as reinforcements.
My two main problems with SW4-II are for one, you can’t import character progress from the base game. They might as well let you since most of the established characters don’t really get much use in Story Mode. The other glaring problem is some of the new characters, like some of the older ones played a very minor role in Warring States Period.
…Let’s go over them, shall we?
- Nobuyki Sanada: Yukimora Sanada’s older brother. A major player who ensured the Sanada clan made it into the Edo Period after his legendary younger brother Yukimora died defending the Toyotomi at Osaka Castle. This detail is touched on in the SW4 anime but Yukimora’s life was spared after the Eastern Army won the Battle of Sekigahara because of Nobuyki’s intervention. Yukimora was exiled, which was a fate worse than death for a warrior of his stature.
- Kojuro Katakora: Date Masamune’s “Right Eye”. It’s actually pretty surprising he is wasn’t introduced in SW2 or SW3 given he single-handedly ensured the Date Clan’s survival thanks to his cousel. This is shown in the opening cutscene for his campaign in SW4-II but Kojuro famously cuts out Masamune’s right eye, which he was losing sight in at his master’s request. In exchange, Kojuro swears to be his right eye for the left of his life. Kojuro is believed to have died during or shortly after the siege of Osaka Castle from illness.
- Toyahisa Shimazu: Yoshihiro Shimazu’s nephew. He famously sacrificed himself to give his uncle time to escape when the Shimazu clan realized the battle of Sekigahara wasn’t going to end in the Western Army’s favor. The warrior who killed him was Naotora Ii, whom he considered his greatest rival.
- Naomasa Ii: The cover character of SW4-II, Naomasa’s most known for his red armor and having slain Toyahisa Shimazu at the Battle of Sekigahara. He would eventually succeed his adopted mother Naotora as head of the Ii clan. He would also become known as one of the Tokugawa’s four greatest generals alongside Tadakatsu Honda.
- Lady Hayakawa: Ujiyasu Hojo’s eldest daughter. No historical evidence exists of her directly participating in any major battles. She was likely made a playable character so there could be a new character in the SW series from the Hojo Clan.
- Koshosho: Known as the “Lady of Misfortune”, every man she met would meet their unfortunate end shortly afterward. Little else is known about her.
- Takakage Kobayakawa: The Mori Clan’s chief strategist and Motonari Mori’s third son. He would become head of the Mori Clan after his father retired (his older brothers died in battle). He was also the officer Hideyoshi Hashiba (later Toyotomi) famously brokered a truce with when he learned Nobunaga died at Honnoji. Takakage would later ally with Hideyoshi, helping him conquer Western Japan.
- Kagekora Uesugi: Kenshin’s adopted son and heir to the Uesugi clan after Kenshin’s sudden death. Like Kojuro, he should have been introduced in SW2 or SW3 given his significance during the Feudal Era.
- Takatora Todo: A former Azai retainer who lived as a ronin after the Oda Clan wiped out the Azai. When Hideyoshi Toyotomi passed away, he sided with the Tokugawa. He is believed to have personally assisted his old friend and fellos former Azai retainer Yoshitsugu Otani commit Seppuku during the Battle of Sekigahara.
- Yoshitsugu Otani: A former Azai retainer who would become a retainer of Hideyoshi’s after the Oda Clan wiped out the Azai. He quickly became friends with Mitsunari Ishida, agreeing to help him oppose the Tokugawa after Hideyoshi Toyotomi passed away. It’s said he even he knew about Hideyaki Kobayakawa’s betrayal in advance and tried to warn Mitsunari, who’d rejected Sakon Shima’s plan of a sneak attack the night before the Battle of Sekigahara.
- Hisahide Matsunaga: A retainer of the Oda, Nobunaga famously forgave him several times despite the many attempts Hisahide made on his life. While Hisahide literally went out with a bang, it’s believed he was the one who inspired Mitsuhide to turn on Nobunaga.
…Of course, Goemon Ishikawa was the most famous thief in Japanese lore as their version of Robin Hood in short. Even more well known are Musashi and Sasaki’s duels though they did participate in some of the battles of their time. Okuni’s inclusion in the series makes no sense given what she would ultimately be famous for.
Interestingly, the game’s Challenge Mode is the most balanced compared to SW3 and SWC3: At certain intervals, you can save your progress. No more having to start from the beginning each time! Even so, it’s a huge stretch to justify the $40 price tag for this as a standalone game though it was likely because this was meant to be a standalone game for those who skipped SW4 and SWC3. That said, playing SW4 or SWC3 first is highly reccommended before playing SW4-II. Before I forget, if you bought SW4 and have game data available, you will get 10 Strategy books and will also be able to download certain DLC content for SW4-II free of charge just like with SWC3.
Overall I give SW4-II a 7/10. Worth playing at least once though the lack of replay value compared to SW4 and SWC3 is something else. Even so, I am hopeful there will be more SW Games to come–Dynasty Warriors 9 may be announced later this year. It wouldn’t be a stretch to expect news of another SW title or even a Warriors Orochi 4.
In related Vita news, The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II will becoming to North America this fall. Given the PSP Legend of Heroes PSP trilogy was also announced as coming to North America, this is awesome news. There is also confirmation Trails of Cold Steel III will be released in Japan as well, likely this summer. Given the series is expected to also have a 4th title, one can only hope!