Style can be a dangerous thing in games. If used with gameplay that backs up it's style, the game is actually more sucessful for example Prince of Persia featured a cool cel-shaded look but also was a quality platformer and featured a moving story. However, things get hairy when a game merely relies on its style, not providing a good gameplay experience whatsoever. Games that sadly fell through this catagory include Facebreaker among others. With Afro Samurai, it's certain that it doesn't fall into the first catagory-it features some pretty stylish visuals but in terms of providing an actual gameplay experience, it's sadly derrivative, annoying and unfaithful to the anime it's based on. This sends Afro Samurai to the pits of mediocrity.
Things start to go wrong with its story. The main premise of both the anime and the game is that the god has created two headbands-the number one and the number two. It's said the number one headband owner will have powers like he is a god. However only people who wear the number two headband can challenge them, because of it's changing of owners constantly, rarely is the number one challenged. Cue Afro's quest for vengeance, after his dad, who was the previous Number one, was brutally murdered by the number two owner, now Afro is trying to aquire the number two headband and dish out some Justice to, erm, Justice (number one owner). Unfortunately, the games plot toys with the anime's storyline and makes it more confusing to people who aren't familiar with the anime and rather pointless to people who've watched the anime.
Within the first fight you start with two grunts, it's clear that Afro Samurai is fully of style. Its scratchy visuals give a sense of looking at a water painting, which is backed up by vivid colours which give personality to the game. Animation can be stiff, and you'll notice that some characters don't move their lips when they speak. Cutscenes can be somewhat stiff too, where a character on-screen is litterally completely still as if they've become a statue. But one of the biggest interests for more adult players will be just how gory it is. Some simple attacks spill blood, but when you slice heads off, chop other limbs into pieces and more spill blood like there is no tommorow. If it's your thing, then the gore will be quite satisfying, though it's cel-shaded so it's not that bad. It seems strange to mix more mature gore with a visual style featured in mostly children platformers, but it's nice on the eyes at the very least.
The sound also gets a slight boost from its license. RZA, from the Wu-tang-clan, creates some nice tunes. Despite him being a rapper, you'll be surpised to hear some neat guitar riffs inbetween its awesome rap tunes. It's got quite a lot of variety and it's very well done. However, the acting, which features Samuel L. Jackson, Ron Pearlman and Kelly Hu is rather weak, mostly due to the obscene dialogue which constantly features f-ing and blinding, and most of the time other actors sound like they are half asleep, though Samuel L. Jackson as Ninja Ninja is actually a bit overbearing, as in one level he is talking about whether Afro had sex with a girl in a very rude manner. It was mean't to be funny but actually came more off as simply crude.
While its presentation is slightly above average, the gameplay in Afro Samurai is rather unoriginal and in some cases quite tedious. The game is split into around 12 levels, which vary from about 10 minutes to up to an hour long. It's completely linear, with some different paths merely for finding mementos which give achievements and skills if you find them all. However, the balance and pacing is rather poor. Some levels end in a finger-click and leave you hanging for more while others take forever to complete and can be rather tedious. Enemy placements can also be rather annoying, where you litterally fight wave after wave of enemies for about 20 minutes, and if you die, you have to start all over again. Poor checkpoints can lead to frustration as well.
But Afro Samurai is mostly disappointing just because of how repetitive and derivative it is. You have a light and heavy attack, as well as a kick, jump, dash and guard moves. Mixing up buttons will create interesting combos but you have to unlock a lot of them first by playing through the game and levelling up. One interesting move available from the get-go is the focus move. You hold down the left trigger and hold one of the attack buttons down until your sword glows and then once you let go, you perform a powerful slice which if connects to an enemy, will slice the enemy in half and cause instant kills. It's a satisfying move, which sadly, is the only unique touch to combat. It screams Ninja Gaiden, with even the move list looking quite similar to the one from Ninja Gaiden.
It also grinds on because a majority of the game is combat, combat and more combat. There are also really mediocre attemtps at variety which are repetitive switch pulling parts where you have to kick and jump up to pull the switch down. There's also some mediocre puzzles and platforming sections, I particularly hated the platforming sections because if you come close to the end, but fall down a ledge or into a pitt of death, you have to do the whole platforming section all over again, which is tedious and very frustrating. But the thing is that these sections don't add variety because, as bad as they can be, they are few and far between-about 90% of the game is combat and the rest is something else like platforming.
The game can also be quite confusing. Objectives are very vauge, telling you what you need to do but now actually how to do it. You'll sometimes find yourself going back through the level you already went through before. Ninja Ninja can be your guide as by pressing a simply button he wil start screaming directions at you, which is about as useful as it sounds. It's especially not useful when he starts doing this when you aren't even seeing him-it doesn't snap the camera onto him for you, instead you have to find him to see where you have to go next. It stops the groove of the game, because when you get on a killing spree then it can be fairly fun to just go around chopping up everything in your path, because, sadly, that's all you will be doing for most of the game.
I thought one of the most disappointing parts of Afro Samurai was the boss fights. There are plenty of these in the game, as you hustle with several characters familiar from the anime, and maybe not so familiar. The problem is that they devolve down to simply blocking their moves, parrying them and attacking them as much as you can until they start attacking you again. One of the most frustrating parts of Afro Samurai comes from the ridiculous fight against a giant dude wielding a flamethrower. It's a three-part fight where you can't block his moves, because it's fire and swords aren't good against the elements, and after the first part of the battle, he'll do an attack which, if you are even remotely close to, will kill you instantly and then you must start again. It takes forever to chip his health away, and it's far too easy to die on your part.
Afro Samurai is disappointing value for money. The story mode will barely take you around six hours, could be longer depending on how you do against the flamethrower dude, or shorter if you can't be bother to finish the game at all. There's no other modes whatsoever, with only another difficulty unlocked to encourage replaying. But to be honest, one playthrough was enough for me, and it was quite challenging on the lower difficulty anyway. There are 48 achievements too, but they require way too much luck. There's no skill involved in slicing 4 enemies at once, or slicing off fingers and fingers at the same time. Just luck. And the points are poorly spread out, with three hundred gamerscore given in just two achievements.
Is Afro Samurai good, bad or ugly?
Afro Samurai is yet another in a long, long list of disappointing licensed games. There are only two things going for it-it's stylish visuals and quality soundtrack from RZA. But it's not nearly enough to forgive it's derrivative and repetitive gameplay, boring levels, vague level design and objectives, lack of faithfulness to the anime, poor value for money and rubbish boss fights. It's got one cool move-the focus attack which makes combat easy and spills lots of blood, but it's just buried under layers and layers of design problems and lack of polish. Even if you are a die hard fan of the anime show, the jumbled story won't appeal to you and hack 'n' slash fans will find it simply to be a cartoony Ninja Gaiden rip-off.
+ Stylish visuals and great music from RZA
+ It's so bloody is kind of satisfying, especially focus attacks
-Its derrivative wtih no originality here I'm afraid
-Boring levels with vague objectives mean you'll accidentally retread levels
-It's merely six hours long, though it gets repetitive before then
-It isn't very faithful to the anime, with missing characters and poorly done scenes and voice acting.
-Very disappointing boss fights
Afro Samurai was released on March 27th, 2009 for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. It is rated 18+ for strong bloody violence and can be bought for around £25+
Afro Samurai the game is based off the hit anime which offers brilliant action which should translate well to a videogame.
The game follows the story of the anime, when Afro is a kid his father is murdered by the Number one ninja and so he grows up cold hearted and wants revenge for his fathers death as well as the Number one headband. To contrast with Afros character he is followed around by Ninja Ninja who makes amusing comments which get a few laughs.
The gameplay here is primarily focused on combat, Afro has his sword and can do a number of really visually satisfying combos. There is a light and a heavy attack button and using both will give you those good looking moves.
The games party piece is the slow mo focus mode, you can slow time right down and aim your sword blows with such precision it is even possible to cut an enemys ear off! Such precision really makes you feel like a skilled ninja.
The game does throw in a few platforming sections which are for the most part easy enough but you can tell not much time was spent on this aspect of the game as it is terrible compared a game such as Mario or even Tomb Raider.
The production values are great, the talented Samuel L Jackson reprises his role as Afro and Ninja Ninja and really makes the characters come alive. The sword battles are bloody and look excellent recreating the animes style very well.
This. Is. Epic.
Afro Samurai is a 3D brawler with platform elements based on the manga / anime of the same name following a similar plot to the tv series.
The plot of the game follows Afro (The protagonist) who is after the evil 'Justice' who killed his father. The reason for this is that Afro's father held the number one headband, this is a bandana which gives the wearer the abilities of a God, however there is also a number two headband, only the person who holds the number two headband can challenge the number one, but anyone can challenge the number two for the right to gain their headband and fight the number one.
Justice is the number one, Afro (early into the game) is the current number two.
Still with me?
So, You take control of Afro as he cuts his way through many many (many) enemies on his quest for revenge. Afro has a number of combos and attacks at his disposal, he has both light and heavy hits with his sword, kicks and blocks as well as rolls, jumps and hops to avoid attacks. Even more attacks and counters are unlocked as the game goes on, both by killing enemies and by finding crows hidden in levels (to find memories of your father - represented in his moves).
The enemies you fight wont simply wait for you to cut them however, they are a rolling, jumping, bow shooting, bunch who will require well thought out strategy to make them bleed. And they will bleed.
Blood in this game is more visible than anything else, great streams of the red stuff squirts across the screen and levels as you remove enemies limbs like a master surgeon. This is made fun by the focus skill... By holding down the left trigger, you can use either the Y button for a vertical slash or the X button for a horizontal attack which can be lined up to hit the enemy wherever you choose, so hands, legs, feet, even perfectly vertical slices can be performed splitting the enemy symmetrically in two.
The game also offers an overfocus mode, while focus is gathered by performing attacks on enemies, if you gather enough of it, you can go into the overfocus mode where every hit becomes and instand kill and it is fun to zoom around in slow motion cutting every enemy in half so that when time gets back to normal they all hit the ground at once.
The game also allows you to both split bullets to hit enemies behind you with the shards as well as catching bullets on your sword and reflecting them at the enemy that shot it at you originally, all of these skills NEVER lose their appeal and make you feel cool while performing.
The graphics of the game are cel shaded like the anime and all in game cut scenes use the same style so the game feels much more like an immersive experience and although there is blood it feels more stylised a la kill bill than offensive and looks fantastic, as do the characters. It looks AMAZING in HD.
The music of the game is credited by the RZA who liased with various agencies and sent songs to be used in the game, as he also helped on the tv series, this music is amazing and comes in at the perfect time for fights. You really get into the game when a feudal japanese pan flute solo turns into a hip hop rap battle and this game is a true example of how a game can be improved by music.
The actors from the TV show lend their own vocal talents to the game, so we get Samual L Jackson voicing both Afro and his mentor Ninja Ninja as well as others, which makes this game even better.
The plot of the game is fantastic, however I don't want to get into it too much as playing it adds to the experience, but there are plenty of twists and turns along with emotion that will keep you going.
If I had to find a bad point it would be that the camera sometimes has to be moved to make things easier to see, however this takes seconds and never frustrated me or caused me to die as it has in other games.
The game has two difficulty settings, number one headband and number two, with the number one being harder and available after playing through on number two. However the game does allow you to keep all your previously earned skills to deal out death with, which you will need as the enemies and bosses especially will do their best to beat you down with clever combos and perfect blocking, however persevere and you will beat it, and in fairness you are going up against a God so you'll have to sweat a bit!
There is much more that I want to say on the plot of the game, however I will be doing a review of the blu ray tv series soon so I will put it there as I found the plot a key part of this game and wouldnt want to spoil it, however if you feel this is lacking or want to know more, hold out for the next review.
The achievements in this game are a fantastic list, although there are the average ones for levelling up and completing levels there are also some for killing enemies creatively, removing limbs, multiple kills etc. There is also body part poker, a game where you must remove certain limbs of certain enemies to get health boosts (and achievements).
A quick glance on amazon reveals that it can be purchased new for £38.41 however glancing to my right the boxout says it is £23.75 on amazon and I have seen it around the shops for £20 or so which is a bargin for the quality of the game.
In conclusion, I love this game, it is hyper violent, stylishly cool, hack and slash fun. I have long sinced finished it but I will never fully put it down!
Afro Samurai is a rather nicely done cel-shaded hack 'n' slash gorefest in the same vein as Ninja Gaiden. In the game, you take control of the eponymous Afro Samurai and embark upon a quest of revenge. The story is certainly present, but isn't anything to write home about - the reason you'll be playing this game is because of the fast paced, reasonably simple and excessively visceral action.
Although I mentioned it's in the same vein as the Ninja Gaiden games, it's kind of a poor man's version. That's not really a bad thing though, as anyone who's played Ninja Gaiden will know that it's intensely punishing. Afro Samurai is not. It's simple to pick up and you'll be slicing off heads and limbs before you know it. Although I enjoyed this, anyone wanting a game that will relentlessly punish them until they weep tears of very real pain, like Ninja Gaiden did, will be disappointed.
This is certainly not a game for the young or faint hearted. It's insanely violent, with limbs and heads flying off at a moment's notice, and enemies falling into halves and quarters with minimal effort. The game even makes fun of this and encourages you, with the rather hilarious 'body part poker' - slice off limbs in the right order for maximum points! It's great fun, but of course, not for the weak of stomach.
There's not much to dislike about Afro Samurai - it's funny, action packed, looks great, and is very violent. But at the same time, it doesn't really stand out as anything amazing. It's also rather short - I was probably finished with it in about 6 or 7 hours, and there's very little reason to go back to it after that.
In summary, if you can find this cheap, it's a worthwhile, fun packed game. Just don't expect to be blown away, and don't expect any kind of longevity.
Having played a demo of the game I downloaded from the Xbox website, I decided to play the whole game because of the amazing graphics and entertaining narrative provided by Samuel L. Jackson.
*** Type of Game ***
This is an action-adventure beat-em-up. You have to navigate your way around the levels and solve some puzzles such as moving levers and chopping ropes to progress past certain areas. The main part of the game though is killing all the enemies along the way! As with most games in this genre the difficulty increases as you progress and there is a Boss you have to defeat at the end of each level. Most of the killing you do is pure hacking away at enemies but there is a bit more strategy involved when it comes to killing the Bosses. There are also some bonus features such as the 'Body-Parts-Poker' where you have to slice off specific parts of your enemies which make you refine your killing skills rather than just button bashing and hoping it results in the correct moves!
*** Storyline ***
The game is based on the animated series which I have not actually seen. This meant that I gradually understood the plot as I progressed through the game and it all made sense at the end once I had defeated the final Boss. One of the big selling points is that the narrative is spoken by Samuel L. Jackson throughout the game which is very entertaining but you should be aware that there is a lot of very strong language from him so the game is definitely not suitable for kids!
*** Controls ***
The basic controls are straightforward for moving around, jumping, kicking and using your sword. Using different combinations of buttons will allow you to perform different types of attacks using your sword and kicks. As you try new combos, you unlock new moves and these can then be viewed at any time by pressing the start button so that you can carry on practising them and trying slight variations to keep unlocking new moves.
*** Graphics and sound ***
The silky smooth graphics are definitely the best thing about the game and the amount of blood appearing on the screen increases as you throw together combinations of moves which gives you an added reason to improve your fighting skills. The best part however is when you activate the 'focus' mode as this makes the graphics go into black and white and activates a slow-motion mode so you get to improve the accuracy of your sword strikes and see in precise detail the slicing of the blade through the enemy's flesh! The pumping hip-hop soundtrack throughout the game also suits it very well and adds to the overall game experience.
*** Playability ***
I found the overall difficulty setting to be about right although I did get stuck on a couple of the Bosses for a long time trying to work out the best strategy for killing them. Some of the platform sections requiring more strategy are also a bit slow and some movements such as running along walls can be a bit frustrating when you fall off and have to go through a whole section again until you get it right all the way through. The fighting is what the game is all about though and wielding your samurai sword against a whole group of enemies continues to be a lot of fun all the way to the end!
Once you complete the game and obtain the 'Number 1 Headband' you then have the option of playing the whole game again on a harder setting. This setting really is a lot more difficult and I didn't play it for long before giving up! The levels are all exactly the same as before but the enemies are just much harder to kill (it takes a lot more hits to kill them and their blows kill you a lot quicker). If the levels changed at all I might have put more effort into playing this more difficult setting but by then I had satisfied my thirst for killing and bloodshed and was happy to put the game away!
Afro Samurai is the latest slice em' up gore-fest for the Xbox 360, based upon the infamous five-episode anime of the same name. You play as the titular Afro Samurai (so named because his unruly hairstyle), a young man on a bloody mission for vengeance in a feudal yet somehow futuristic Japan. Many years ago Afro's father, the owner of the supposedly magical Number One headband, was decapitated by Justice, the current Number Two, who replaced Afro senior as the countries number one swordsman. Older and much more experienced Afro has now gained the status of the Number Two and will stop at nothing until he has vanquished Justice, and avenged his father's brutal demise. Aided by Ninja Ninja, Afro's foul-mouthed imaginary companion, and haunted by memories of his murky past, Afro must dice his way through endless hoards of thugs, assassins, an enigmatic man with a teddy bear for a head, and finally a cowboy zombie, all in the name of revenge.
Despite the amount of hype the game received (most of which was generated by anime fan boys), Afro Samurai will not go down as one of the greatest gaming achievements of the year. It tends to make the fatal mistake of all anime-game adaptations, and caters towards the fans of the original series rather than the gaming populace. The characters appear with little introduction and the plot is revealed through a series of disordered flashbacks, which makes the storyline incredibly hard to follow. Even after watching the anime I still struggled to come to grips with the game's plot, which meanders around like an alcoholic snake. If you haven't seen the anime, well you've got no chance.
Fortunately the game does have some good points. Samuel L. Jackson is expectedly hilarious as the voice of Ninja Ninja, whose constant R-rated quips never fail to make me smile. Although the villains are generally quite easy they appear in massive numbers and often vary in strength and skill, ensuring the game play doesn't get too repetitive. Plus the insane gore makes slicing the inept assailants into a crimson mist incredibly satisfying, even though Afro only has about four moves. The inclusion of 'focus,' a bullet time-esque method of slowing time, also increases Afro's homicidal arsenal, allowing him to deflect bullets and to mercilessly carve his enemies into dozens of pieces, all in glorious slow mo.
In conclusion Afro Samurai has incredible graphics and RZA provide a suitably epic soundtrack, although it can be incredibly frustrating. Some moves, such as wall running, can be difficult to master and often lead to an infuriating death, and the fact that the enemies have a nasty habit of slicing you from behind (something that completely contradicts the samurai code of honor) has often pushed me to the brink of mental breakdown. However, ignoring the blood boiling nature of the game play, as well as the hopelessly convoluted plot, Afro Samurai remains a highly entertaining way of killing the time, as well as people, and is a purchase I recommend. But I'd probably wait until the price tag drops a bit if I was you.
I bought this game because I knew a little bit about the manga and thought I would give the game a try. My first reaction to the game was how lovely the graphics looked, how awesome it was to have Samual L Jackson doing the voice over. The minute you begin to play you are thrown into Afro Samurai's life story which is pretty unpleasant. You have to work your way up by killing many other samurai, ninjas, assassins, weird robot creatures and various bosses. Along the way you have to make sure you find memento's which are murder of crows which couldn't have been made tinier or more obscure so you have to go back and find them all in order to unlock new fighting skills which are necessary to progress within the game.
Chasing the memento's became a bit of a chore in my opinion. Something I did not enjoy about Assassin's Creed. Chasing all those flags and god knows whatever else. But without the memento's you can't unlock all the combo's you need to fight against bigger and harder opponents.
Something unusual about this game is the lack of a health bar. Everything you need to know about the condition of Afro's health is visible on his body. The weaker he gets, the more wounds he sustains the slower he becomes. You hear his heart beatings and his body glowing bright red. That's a pretty big indication that he's not going to stay alive for long. Not having the health bar, seeing the weakness of your opponent visually on the body give this game a raw gritty feeling that it's all about the fighting and the winning.
Each new area will have a little teddy bear or two. This is what health is stored in. Using these wisely is a really good idea. Sometimes using them helps you level up. Something Afro Samurai does increasing his fighting capabilities. Another way to stay alive during a fight is to have Afro run around a few times. The glowing red around his body eventually subsides and his heart beat calms down. But his health is by no means restored. It just buys you a little more time to try and kill the last few ninjas.
The game tries to introduce a touch of sexiness in the shape of ninja strippers. They're naked lady ninjas covered in Japanese tattoos and they think they're really bad ass. They're pretty easy to kill actually.
Fighting with Afro Samurai is pretty smooth. He has some nice combo's. The more combo's you play the more bonus's he receives. Most of the moves revolve around the samurai sword but I like Afro's kick combo. The other cool thing about fighting with Afro is that he can speed down time while fighting, like something out of the Matrix. This function is called Focus and if you use it too much it runs out. The only way to make more is to fight using combo's. Sometimes Focus is really useful but at other time's it just seems to be a drain to Afro.
Controlling the camera angels is smoother than some games I have played but they can get frustrating at times. And trying to figure out where to go next can be a little bit daunting because there is no map to look at. You're only guide along the way is this strange character called Ninja Ninja. If you pester him too much he refuses to direct you. It took me a little while to get used to that and at times I found him a little annoying. The cool thing about Ninja Ninja however are his funny quips usually directed at Afro. And he also starts this cool card game with you. Whilst you are in the midst of battle! The card game is called Ninja Ninja's body part poker. The aim of the game is to basically slice and dice as many body parts of your enemies and hope you score a winning hand. It can be a little bit distracting but fun once you get the hang of it. Winning a hand means your character gets a free level up or restored health. So it's useful but not worth getting too distracted by it.
Overall Afro Samurai is an enjoyable game, it has a pretty good story to follow with nice graphics, interesting characters, other things to do besides fight such as collecting all the memento's and Ninja Ninja's body part poker. However the repetitiveness of the game eventually tired me. The music is rap with a nice oriental sound. I'm not a huge rap fan though I liked the lyrics and the cool oriental sounding music. But after a while the songs just loop round and round all starting to merge into one another. It just gives you a headache. And constantly slicing and dicing and trying to locate things and figure out all the things you need to do. All gets a bit much. It isn't long before the intensity of the story also gets dull and somber. Despite the efforts of placing some oddball humor in the guise of Ninja Ninja.
Overall this is a pretty good game, and great for anyone who obsesses over achievements. I wouldn't say it was a complicated game to pick up. At first it all seems a bit daunting but gradually you get used to not having a map and not having a health bar but it just needed a little variety and a little less intensity.
Based on the hit animation series, Afro Samurai is a cutting edge interactive adventure that delivers a new kind of cinematic game experience.