When we reviewed Way of the Samurai 2 - the sequel to a game we very much enjoyed, lest we forget - we suggested that a wholesale rethink was in order if the developer planned to drag it out to a third instalment. It seems our cries didn't go unheeded, if the first details of developer Acquire's third stab at the series are anything to go by.
"Samurai Western: Katsugeki Samurai-dou", due out on PS2 in Japan this winter, is notably different from its predecessors because a) this time our hero, who traditionally makes his own choices and fights the battles the player wants to fight, has a motivation for being where he is - he's trying to find his older brother, b) the gameplay will be split into stages rather than stitched together as a huge free-roaming world, and c) it's a 19-century American western.
Yes, that does sound odd to us as well, but apparently it's true. This time our hero has travelled the world in search of his brother, and his new adventure sees his bushido code of honour, and specifically his swordsmanship, come up against the rootin-tootin, six-shooting cowboys of the wild west.
As he makes his way through the west, our hero will be able to deflect bullets with his sword by pressing R1, and even redirect them back at his assailants, and he also has a special dash move to help dodge gunfire. The combat system is sure to see an overhaul, with a new combo system due to be unveiled at a later date, and apparently you'll be expected to find cover during combat.
In terms of the layout, we're not sure whether Acquire is aiming for the same choice-driven narrative and gameplay structure as before, but we have heard that the total size of the game is about "four times as large" as Way of the Samurai 2, and there's talk of levels stretching across the tops of trains, Red Dead Revolver-style, and revisiting stages to boost stats.
We'll let you know when we find out some more. In the meantime, you can find ten screenshots here.