The Creative Assembly has been producing the best strategy series in the world for a number of years now. From medieval Japan, to ancient Rome, to the battlefields of Napoleonic Europe, the Total War series is a great blend of real-time combat and turn-based strategy. The studio has finally dipped its toes in mobile waters and developed Total War Battles: Shogun. It was released for iOS a while back, but it has been ported to Android and you can snap it up for $4.99.
Scaling down a game as complex as Total War for a small touchscreen is a real challenge and any fans of the series will be wondering how it was achieved. The strategy experience has been distilled. The small battlefields are laid out as hex grids and the terrain forms natural bottlenecks and advantageous defensive spots that must be claimed for victory to be won. Troops can only move forward as they adhere to the Bushido code, so you need to look before you leap. You can still choose various kinds of units, each with its own strengths, and you can build different structures to develop your clan’s economy.
Uniting Japan is the challenge of the main campaign and it combines a detailed story of betrayal and vengeance, complete with quality voice acting, with around ten hours of challenging gameplay. It’s an accessible game with some good tutorials to get you started, but the difficulty curve is steep, especially for inexperienced tacticians.
To add a bit more replay value you’ll find a local 1-vs-1 multiplayer option with three modes to choose from and a Skirmish challenge with six standalone battles that allow you to compare your prowess with others via the leaderboards.
The game is published by Sega and, glancing through the user reviews so far, it looks like the port may have been rushed out the door without enough testing — there are a lot of complaints about force closing. No doubt there will be updates to deal with the issues. In any case, for strategy fans, especially fans of the Total War series, this is an essential buy.