Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time evaluation: fan service as relentless motion

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Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time review: fan service as relentless action

In an enormous 2019 interview with Polygon, Samurai Jack creator Genndy Tartakovsky mirrored on his almost 20-year journey with the Jack character, and the bittersweet decision he’d illustrated within the sequence’ fifth and remaining season. The finish was the precise finish for his time-traveling warrior — that was the story. That was it. The finish.

Considering the creator’s sense of finality, Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time, a brand new hack-and-slash motion RPG out now on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Apple Arcade, is creative sacrilege. But with the potential of chopping up robotic bugs as a time-traveling samurai caught in a endless battle in opposition to a magical shape-shifting demon … properly, you possibly can perceive why Adult Swim Games and Japan’s Soleil Games teamed as much as carry Jack again to life but once more.

What fan may resist the dopamine hit of maneuvering the warrior by the odd worlds of Tartakovsky’s creativeness? And having performed James Cameron’s Avatar: The Game and the infamous Legend of Korra in my lifetime, I really feel assured in saying Battle Through Time is on the excessive finish of the awful-to-good-enough tie-in spectrum. The recreation is pedestrian … whereas additionally being a pleasant, heat return to a property I like. I can’t stop Jack.

samurai jack slices through an alligator robot

Image: Adult Swim Games/Soleil Games

The writers of Battle Through Time discovered the least offensive method to broaden Tartakovsky’s story. Those acquainted with the ultimate episode of the sequence will recall that Jack and Ashi, Aku’s daughter, escape from the demon’s clutches by leaping by a time portal that drops them off initially of the present.

It seems the journey lasted longer than we thought: Opening on the finalé, Battle Through Time turns into a intelligent “mid-quel” as Jack retraces his steps by previous areas and waves of acquainted enemies.

Three-dimensional fashions don’t hew completely to Tartakovsky’s kinetic art work, however the fundamental designs are all intact — jagged, graphic, and prismatic. The enemies nonetheless seem like pure nightmares, whereas Jack’s allies retain their Rocky and Bullwinkle-like cartoonery.

Da Samurai reveals as much as promote Jack objects and restore his weapons. The Scotsman and his daughters handout improve jewels. There are alligator robots and beetle drones and Demongo to hit with big-ass weapons. Later within the recreation, you possibly can even get the machine gun from season 5 to take down different gun-toting enemies.

I can see why Tartakovsky accepted the making of this conceptual offense to his artwork, then went again to work whereas the children performed within the sandbox. People who care about Samurai Jack made this recreation.

Various the founders of Soleil Games have been behind the Ninja Gaiden sequence, which is smart, as Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time is principally a Ninja Gaiden-like launch with Samurai Jack in it. The gameplay is easy — hack, slash, hack, slash, combo, combo, hack, hack, hack — and the background environments preserve gamers on the rails. There are corners of the degrees to find and upgrades to be discovered, however for probably the most half, the enjoyment of the sport is encountering more and more tough and recognizable foes from the sequence and fucking them up, Jack-style.

season 5 samurai jack runs through some blades in Battle Through Time

samurai jack slices an alligator robot  in Battle Through Time

samurai jack shoots a bow and arrow in Battle Through Time

samurai jack runs with a giant mace in his hand in Battle Through Time

Images: Adult Swim Games/Soleil Games

There’s a sure zippiness lacking from Game Jack’s acrobatics, because of the restricted physics holding the gameplay again from going full Tartakovsky, however the character’s documented skills are an ideal match for the relentlessness of the fights, and the powerhouse strikes that include pairing the proper spiky mallet with the proper Huntor’s face.

There’s no higher emulation of the cartoon sequence than operating right into a room filled with too many enemies, and imagining whether or not Jack is match sufficient to outlive. The recreation is, fortunately, cruel, and at occasions, Jack takes a pounding and a half. In a neat design alternative, battle shreds clothes, Jack loses his tied hair, and transitions from season 1 to season 5 Jack as he takes an increasing number of harm. In a not-neat design alternative, a loss of life will ship gamers again to who-knows-where, because the save factors are variable, however all the time farther again than you’d prefer to go.

I believed Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time would possibly add a layer of puzzles to the platforming to provide the motion a twist, and faucet Jack’s meditative thoughts, however nah, it’s actually nearly ripping individuals to bits. There are tons to issues to gather in Soleil’s journey, from cash to Skill Fire to health-enhancing Dama and Bushido Spirit used to improve Jack’s combos. But even I, a scholar of the Smash Every Urn and Wooden Box for Goodies faculty of gameplay, obtained a bit of burned out grinding for the upgrades it takes to beat the ballistic bosses lurking on the milestones of every stage. Collecting cash to continuously restore my favourite mace is, after hours of play, a little bit of a chore. And I don’t like chores! C’mon, ma, I’m gaming proper now!

Playing Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time tapped the a part of my mind reserved for cell video games. There’s little to have fun, and but I discovered myself with an insatiable need to maintain slicing and dicing by ranges to see which cameos would possibly pop up and what different exaggerated weaponry I may wield in my pursuit of Ashi and Aku.

Story and character don’t drive the motion like in Tartakovsky’s sequence — air flips and fist punches do. A way of exhaustion units in nearly instantly, whereas a starvation to get just a bit extra Samurai Jack in my life saved me soldiering on. By the requirements of tie-in video games, that appears like successful.


Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time is out now. The recreation was reviewed utilizing a obtain code supplied by Adult Swim Games. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These don’t affect editorial content material, although Vox Media could earn commissions for merchandise bought by way of affiliate hyperlinks. You can discover extra details about Polygon’s ethics coverage right here.

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