Seven Swords of Shaolin
Seven Swords of Shaolin is an epic, kung fu RPG for the…uh, let’s say the XBox and the PS3. It comes with a “sword” — a plastic weapon that has a rumble pack and a bunch of gyroscopes and what not to keep track of its position. In the game, you take the part of Zhou Xuan-Yun, a young martial artist who, in his quest to avenge his murdered brother, travels throughout medieval China to learn the secrets of the sword.
The fighting is full-motion interactive. To use a technique, the player executes the technique; the game keeps track of how close the player is to perfect form. There are fifteen attacking techniques, and five parries. Each parry counters three different kinds of attacks; after each parry, three different attacks are available. In this way, you could cycle through all of the attacks and parries available to your character.
Enemies begin with only one or two attacks available (requiring the use of two different parries). As they increase in difficulty, several things happen: the first is that their techniques get faster, requiring you to perform your techniques more quickly. The second is that they get stronger, requiring you to perform your techniques more perfectly. The third is that they have a wider variety of moves available to them; the highest-level enemies have all fifteen opening attacks available, and use them unpredictably.
Because the game requires you to get faster and better at your techniques by actually performing them, the only attributes that a player has are might, yin chi, and yang chi. Yin and yang chi are used for special abilities; yang is used for external special abilities, yin chi is used for internal special abilities.
Might increases the damage from your weapons (various sword upgrades are available, each one doing more damage than the previous). A 100% successful parry will block 100% of incoming damage — so a player could take on a very powerful enemy, but only with perfect technique. A 90% successful parry will block 90% of incoming damage — enemies, as they increase in level and difficulty, become more successful with their own defensive techniques. The stronger a player is, the more quickly he or she can power through an enemies blocks.
(In practice, this means that even a player with strong technique will have a hard time fighting a much higher level opponent, but will be able to beat lower-level opponents very easily.)
Special abilities are triggered by chi gung techniques; ostensibly, a player can use yin or yang techniques indefinitely, but once they’ve burned through their surplus (gained by increasing in level) they use yin or yang chi at the expense of their other abilities: might, in the case of yang, and health and healing in the case of yin. As is the case with the parries, the more technically perfect the player is when he or she performs a special power technique, the more effective the result will be.
The final and most innovative aspect of the game is that it keeps track not just of a player’s progress, but of their success rate using different attacks and parries, and then adjusts the enemies accordingly — a player who relies too heavily on one technique will discover that his enemies in the game grow increasingly better at parrying it. A player whose low parries are typically less successful than his high parries will find his enemies’ attacks gradually weighted to take advantage of it.
The more the player fights, the more the game will push the player to get better at his or her worst techniques.
Seven Swords of Shaolin takes the player on a tour through China’s history and mythology, while simultaneously teaching them kung fu.