First Samurai was originally developed by Vivid Image for the Commodore Amiga OCS/ECS home computers and also for the Atari ST, Commodore 64 and PC (MS-DOS) in 1992. The Super Nintendo version was developed in 1993.
STORY / GAMEPLAY First Samurai takes place in a fictional feudal Japan world where an evil entity called The Demon King has taken over the world and unleashed hordes of powerful creatures aiming to destroy humanity. The great Master of the Samurai clan has tried to stop him but defenseless as he was towards Demon King's magic powers, he finally lost his life in battle. Before leaving this world, the Master summoned a Wizard Mage in order to train a faithful and skillful samurai warrior. You, as the samurai, fight your way through the game's levels using your sword and martial arts skills. But the quest is hard, since you are called to fight alone against numerous monster-like enemies of the underworld, from simple bats to gigantic beasts, until you ultimately find and kill the Demon King. Along the way, you will find food and drink Japan's national "Sake" to increase your energy while you must always hit the magic pots with your sword to trigger a checkpoint (very useful). If your energy drops enough, you will end up losing your sword and you will have to fight the beasts with your bare hands, so the sword must be re-gained ASAP by killing enemies and get the magic pot they release when they die! To finish each level, you must confront a boss character. The gameplay is quite tough after a while, since the game hides a lot of traps. Fortunately the difficulty level is not frustrating.
GRAPHICS / SOUND Though the SNES version follows the original Amiga and though the SNES hardware is a bit more powerful compared to the OCS machines, it doesn't actually differ too much from the OCS. The color palette is quite identical to the Amiga, with awesome backgrounds and sprites. The in-game music sounds as if it was taken directly from the ancient Japanese culture and the sampled sound effects that accompany our hero's actions are done nicely. Surely the SNES owners enjoyed (and will enjoy) a decent First Samurai version but, to be honest, I personally prefer the original version that kept me going for hours and hours! Hallelujah!
In-game music sample:
Amiga (original version)
Super Nintendo (SNES)
CPU: Ricoh 5A22, based on a 16-bit CMD/GTE 65c816 core, Input: 21.28137 MHz Bus: 3.55 MHz, 2.66 MHz, or 1.77 MHz MEMORY: Main RAM: 128Kb / Video RAM: 64Kb / Sound RAM: 64Kb GRAPHICS: Progressive: 256x224, 512x224, 256x239, 512x239 and Interlaced: 512x448, 512x478 / Pixel Depth 2,4,7,8 bpp (8 to 11 bpp dorect) / Colors: 32768 (Depth 15bit) / Sprites: 128 (64x64 pixels) / Backgrounds: Up to 4 planes each up to 1024x1024 pixels / Special: Mode 7 matrix operations. (1 layer 128x128 tiles out of 256 with 256 colors) SOUND: Sony SPC700, Sony DSP: 16-bit ADPCM, 8 channels. Output: 32 kHz 16-bit stereo