Afro Samurai

  • Release date: January 27th 2009
  • Developer: Namco Bandai
  • Estimate time to beat: 7 hours
  • My time: 5 hours
  • Date beaten: March 9th 2019
  • Achievements: 30/48 (510/1000)
  • Full Playthrough

From the moment the title screen hits its clear that the soundtrack is something special. Produced by RZA of Wu Tang, the beats perfectly intertwine within the story, action, and even permeate the menus.

Once given control of Afro Samurai it’s apparent that the game controls feel great, but the camera can leave something to be desired. Sometimes it’s a fixed camera, and sometimes it follows behind Afro, but the choice of one or the other occasionally work against you. This can make some fights feel like you’re not only battling the enemies, but the camera as well.

The combat is fairly basic. You have a light attack, heavy attack, and a kick. There’s also a dash and slowdown mechanic that give each of these attack buttons an extra move. Once unlocked, there are a decent amount of combat options, but the combat is not as in-depth as a game like Devil May Cry. That being said, I’m not sure that it needs to be. There’s a certain mashing quality to it that is satisfying among chaos, and really it’s all to fill up your gauge for the slow down ability. This allows you to slow down time to slice enemies horizontally, vertically, sweep them, or use a couple different dodging maneuvers. The slices can be angled to target specific areas of the body. This is particularly useful for the small mini game that appears every once in a while called body part poker. The goal is to target limbs, or head to create a poker hand of three cards. A fun little added challenge during the games altercations. The horizontal slash can also be used to catch bullets mid-air and throw them back at the enemies attempting to shoot you.

The last combat mechanics are block, and parry. You can hold block to stop incoming attacks, or tap it at the right time to stagger your opponent leaving an opening for you to be able to mount them. Once mounted the different attack buttons each have their own finishing move attached depending on which you press. This combat variability makes it feel like you always have options. Even if they’re not always as tight as some might want.

Throughout the game you have small puzzle which always boil down to kill enemies then cut a rope. Given the game is only about 5 to 7 hours long. This never weighs on you, and is always fun from beginning to end. The platforming isn’t great, but is passable. The game does a good job of making sure you land where you need to if you start your jump from where they want you to. If you’re slightly off most likely you’re going to fall. After an hour or so you start to feel what how they want you to attempt a given platforming sequence and it becomes second nature, but there are still times where you feel like you did everything right, but just couldn’t stick the landing.

Level design is generic in the sense that it’s a game leading down a hallway for the sake of story telling, but each scene is beautiful despite this. Sometimes there will be branching paths you’ll have to cross through multiple times. It’s not often, but when it does occur, the junction don’t feel distinct enough. This can cause you to repeatedly head the wrong direction and sometimes not even notice another path that is required for progress. Luckily the designers seemed to realize this might be an issue and gave you a sort of compass. If you ever feel like you’re not sure which direction to head you can press down on the d-pad and a ninja will show up to point you in the right direction. The lines of dialogue from this character are entertaining to say the least.

The soundtrack and art design are by far the games greatest quality. The beautiful cell shaded graphics hold up incredibly well. So the game is always a pleasure to look at. There are times where the games geometry doesn’t quite line up so things like cigarettes may look slightly off, but was never so bad that it distracted.

Overall Afro Samurai is an incredibly entertaining game from start to finish. With Samuel L. Jackson voicing not only Afro Samurai, but also Ninja Ninja. The dialogue will keep you laughing throughout. The story is intriguing enough to want to find out where it’s going, and even the games shortcomings are not enough for me to turn anyone away from at least one play through. If you haven’t played this game yet. I highly recommend giving it a shot.

  • Eye Feel: 8
  • Ear Feel: 10
  • Hand Feel: 7
  • Mind Feel: 8
  • Overall feel: 8.25