Published Feb 21, 2009When that cel-shaded Zelda came out a few years back, gamer forums filled with fuming over its kiddie-cartoon look. That isn't going happen with the similarly cel-shaded Afro Samurai, which boasts the gorgeously stylized hand-drawn look of its source Spike TV anime, plus its adults-only protagonist with an afro pick, hand-rolled cigarette and a sharp sword for slow-mo slicing'n'dicing.
The game's awesome art direction, plentiful bloodletting and Sam "Bad Motherfucker" Jackson (voicing both Afro and his helpful/irritating sidekick Ninja Ninja) is enough to make one largely overlook its style-over-substance flaws. Yes, Afro lacks the mechanics to back up its platforming segments - the camera is crap and the bad guys become interchangeable as this action game takes you from fight scene to fight scene, boss to boss. But whatevs. I enjoyed committing mass murder with the game's wickedly stylized moves, egged on by Jackson, Kelly Hu (as Afro friend Okiku) and Ron Perlman (as arch-nemesis Justice). Not to mention there's a blazing soundtrack "supervised" by Wu-Tang Clansman RZA that mashes hip-hop beats with Eastern motifs.
It probably helps to have watched the anime's first season to properly understand the story. But I still enjoyed watching the cut-scenes, even if the specifics of the actual revenge yarn, which, um, involve magic headbands or something, was a bit beyond my ken. Though as far as I can tell, it can be summed up thusly: "My name is Afro Samurai. You killed my father. Prepare to die."
Maybe it would be harder to enjoy this brawler in a busier month, since the game rarely transcends the "kill, rinse, repeat" trappings of its hack'n'slash genre. But if you just want to settle in for some thumb twitching and eye/ear candy, you'll have a bloody good time. Literally. This game is frakking drenched in it. (Namco-Bandai)