It’s kind of known now that my time consuming media as a child was both limited and observed. I was not allowed to watch Samurai Jack — probably due to Aku looking like a demon, or the amount of violence. Samurai Jack: A Battle Through Time has loads of cutscenes and nods to the TV show, so it’s like being in the TV show, probably, but I’ve never seen the show… so who knows?
Samurai Jack: A Battle Through Time feels like a PS2 game — you don’t really need to dodge or even do any fantastic moves, but you can move around the world, attack with a bunch of weapons and take on increasingly challenging enemies. There is a lot going on — weapons to equip, a skill tree to master (that unlocks bigger combos and generally helps you fight) and a bunch of wacky characters that fit well into what I imagine the TV show to be like.
To be honest, I did watch one bit of Samurai Jack when I was a kid. I was very sick.I remember, I was so sick that I got to spend the night in my parents bedroom. My dad had tucked me in, with the remote and TV on, and it was on Cartoon Network. I knew I wasn’t allowed to watch Samurai Jack — the TV show that was probably too violent and about evil — when my household wasn’t about that life. But I did, I started watching it anyway, deciding that nobody would notice. Jack was in some sort of winter biome, fighting through enemies between the trees, trying to get to a building beyond. I remember my dad coming in and being disappointed that I was watching the show, quickly switching it off and reprimanding me for watching it when I know that wasn’t something I should be watching.
I didn’t know about the strange dog called Rothchild or the hip-hop sales guy who keeps trying to sell me health items or bracelets that will increase my damage. There is just a lot to take in. Much of Samurai Jack: A Battle Through Time is spent fighting off enemies, so you spend most of your time attacking in combos, trying to do the most damage. There are plenty of bosses too, adding more challenge to the game, and between them you’re exposed to another cutscene where Aku tells you why you won’t ever defeat him.
Aku does a lot of talking! Like far more talking then I would imagine an enemy would do. But, I like his talking, it makes the game feel like a TV show. You can skip it if you aren’t interested, Jack doesn’t talk much anyway and it’s not enough to get the story without googling here and there.
When it comes to complaints: The climbing within Samurai Jack: A Battle Through Time is probably my least favorite bit of the game — it’s so slow and cumbersome and you often have to do it several times in a row. It is a strak contrast to combat, where fighting feels powerful and strong, even if you never block or dodge, which adds to a really fun feel in the game.
There is a hint system so you can keep to the path, though there are a lot of side areas just heaving with rewards and items, in exchange for fighting small amounts of enemies. It also features plenty of characters to talk to and loads of quests that you can ignore or follow. Your weapons are constantly being broken and changing — even your throwing items can be used up, but there are just so many different options and weapons — as long as you collect them and keep up with them.
A lot of care has been spent on attention to detail too, notbaly when you do start to lose health, Jack becomes old and tattered, a neat effect and one which clearly keeps the game in line with the show.
Samurai Jack: A Battle Through Time has left me questioning if I want to actually watch the TV show as an adult, but I feel that as an action game that has great nods to the PS2 era. It’s a fun action game packed with wacky enemies and a strange rival who loves talking to you.