17-Bit’s Skulls of the Shogun for Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox Live division of the Xbox 360 is a solid strategy title that deploys a comical skeletal army with straight-forward gameplay.

In Skulls of the Shogun, General Akamoto is killed and reborn into the Afterlife. He quickly amasses a new army to gain back the title of Shogun in the land of the dead.

Skulls of the ShogunThe title utilizes a radius-based attack system to indicate how far each unit can travel. The game features three main attack units – Infantry for standard melee attacks, Calvalry to scout with large movement, and Archers to long-range attacks. When enemies are killed units can eat skulls to gain back HP and increase max HP. Each round can include five total moves and when the general is killed the game ends.

Variables in the title include Haunting to take control of certain land pieces, like Shrines to summon magic-based Monk units or Rice Paddies to gain rice. Also, two or three nearby ally units can form a Spirit Wall to prevent KnockBack off cliffs or protect Archers from a counterattack.

Battles are brisk and easy to for casual players to learn. The varied combat, plus the surprise change in battle scenarios in each mission, and the option for head-to-head battles online offer additional strategy for veteran players.

The graphics engine is crisp at 60 frames-per-second. The 2D colorform-like characters are cel-shaded and well-developed in the animated world. The soundtrack is upbeat to fit the mood of the lighthearted dark humor.

Skulls of the Shogun is a solid strategy action title for Xbox Live. With basic yet varied gameplay, a lengthy campaign, and online options the download title has plenty to offer new or veteran strategy players in the Afterlife.

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