Put out by the Shonen Jump magazine, the Shaman King game sets you in a tournament to determine who will rescue the world from destruction.
You begin as Yoh Asakura, a young boy who is told that every 500 years the world is threatened with destruction. A tournament decides who will be the "Shaman King" to stave off this harm and save the world. As you move from episode to episode, you build up your skills, gain allies and prepare for your task as Shaman King.
There are various sub-plots involving girlfriends, jealousy, and of course enemies. But the main gameplay is a combination of tactics and fighting. First you move your characters around on a grid to arrange your combat. Once two characters actually enter into battle, you switch into a traditional fighting game style where both characters whack at each other in real time, to determine who wins.
The game introduces a few new characters, but fans of the Shaman King manga series will be thrilled to get to interact with their favorite environment and people. The graphics are pretty impressive, and have a nice style. The music is reasonable, not exactly ground-breaking but in keeping with the game.
The game itself isn't complex, but is perfect for its target audience. It is a great way to introduce players to RPG, strategy and combat gaming all in one fell swoop. You learn about tactics as you lay out your plan of attack. You get good with button combinations as you go through the fighting stage. And as you level up, you have to decide which skills to increase, based on the way you tend to play the game.
The characters do learn things as they go, becoming more aware of the issues in the world arond them. They also go from knee-jerk reactions to being more understanding. So even there, I think the game has potential vs the fighting games that simply involve bashing, bashing and then more bashing.
Highly recommended for Shaman King fans - and a must-try for anime fans in general. If you're an older teen or adult, I'd rent it first to see where it falls in your gameplay skills. If you're a new gamer this might be the perfect all-around training system - but if you're an experienced gamer, you might be able to beat it far too quickly.
Buy Shaman King from Amazon.com