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Games for the weekend: Skulls of the Shogun

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Games for the Weekend is a weekly feature aimed at helping you avoid doing something constructive with your downtime. Each Friday we’ll be recommending a game for Mac, iPhone or iPad that we think is awesome. Here is one cool enough to keep you busy during this weekend.

Skulls of the ShogunSkulls of the Shogun ($4.99 Universal) is a turn based tactical game that takes place in the afterlife; not your normal run of the mill afterlife, rather the battlefields of a mighty shogun warrior sort of afterlife.

The story begins with the death of the main character, General Akamoto. Upon reaching the entrance of afterlife, General Akamoto learns that he is to be treated as nothing better than a rogue warrior and must wait in line for over 500 years in order to receive his life’s rewards for being a great warrior. Not accepting this fate worse than death, General Akamoto decides to take matters into his own hands and raises an army of other dead warriors that are also waiting in line. There certainly are plenty of recruits to be found as General Akamoto fights his way to the front of the line.

Skulls of the Shogun

There are 24 campaign levels to play in single player mode. The campaign mode is a great training ground to learn the mechanics of the game and hone your command skills as the general of a makeshift undead army. As you raise your army, you find that there are three basic units you can command, infantry, cavalry and archers. Archers can attack from longer distances whereas cavalry are just stronger versions of the infantry riding horses that give them greater range of movement with each turn. You can even summon one of four different monks, Fox, Salamander, Crow and Tanuki. Each monk has a different type of magic that you can use on the battlefield.

Skulls of the Shogun

The battle takes place through a series of turns. The only limit to how long the battle takes is how long your general stays alive.  When it is General Akamoto’s turn, you can issue orders to your mercenaries and they will obey without hesitation. You have up to five orders you can issue with each round. Simply tap on one of your warriors and drag them across the battle field to where you want them to be. With each movement you can also take action. Instructing each ordered warrior to attack, wait at a strategic location, or eat the skulls of the fallen enemy soldiers are among the choices you have with each turn. That’s right: eat skulls.

Skulls of the Shogun

When an enemy soldier dies, they often leave behind their skull. Each eaten skull will increase a warrior’s hit points. After eating three skulls the warrior will turn into a demon. Each warrior that becomes a demon will gain an additional action per turn: two attacks, or attack and eat a skull, or even cast a spell. As you progress through the game, you will discover that you can also haunt shrines and rice paddies in order to summon more warriors to your cause, and gain some rice.

Skulls of the Shogun

There are two multiplayer modes, Pass and Play and Skulls Anywhere. Given that this is a turn-based game, having to pass around a shared device with up to four of your friends does not take away from the experience of the game. If on the other hand you are on your own and looking for some more challenging competition than the in-game artificial intelligence can dish out, then you can elect to join online games through Skulls Anywhere. You will need to create an online account to activate this feature as the players you will face could be playing from any one of the games many supported platforms.

Being limited to just five moves each turn can have you leaving some of your troops behind, scattered across the battlefield. Setting up elaborate strategies is not always an option. This makes for a fast paced battle where poor judgment and one bad move can change the outcome of the battle. So if you are looking for a good game to sharpen your tactical skills this weekend, Skulls of the Shogun has exactly what you are looking for.