Samurai Jack: The Amulet of Time
Back in the heyday of Cartoon network when animated children’s shows we’re arguably at their peak, there were a few cartoons that were aiming to offer something with a little more edge and a focus on more dark or serious narratives. One such cartoon was Samurai Jack and its runaway success would lead to a Game Boy Advance licenced titles named Samurai Jack: The Amulet Of Time.
This game would stick to the core narrative and themes of the show. However, the gameplay would try and take inspiration from popular handheld, side-scrolling adventures provided by the Metroid and Castlevania franchises. However, as you would expect, the title struggles to come anywhere close to the refinement and polish of games from these series.
Fight The Futuristic Menace
The plot of this title is a microcosm of the shows own plot with the main goal being condensed down to finding all the pieces of an amulet so that Jack can return to his own time period. On the surface, it seems a little bit cheap but when you consider that this is merely a GBA title, it offers just enough to motivate the player and fits the narrative enough not to seem far fetched.
The gameplay uses these amulets to encourage a Metroidvania style format of earning new abilities to traverse to areas that were once unreachable. There are seven unique areas in total and each does offer a unique style and feel which is very welcome. Other similarities to the Castlevania series are the inclusion of a map layout, a very similar status screen and various other borrowed assets.
Sloppy is parts
The gameplay fails to reach the heights of its inspirations as it falls short in many respects. The actions and attacks are clunky, the movement is hard to handle, the hitboxes and detection are inconsistent and the difficulty spikes in areas are unfair even for the most capable of players. However, while areas are unnecessarily difficult, the game does offer areas that are a fair challenge and does give the players a good amount of tools and abilities to get the job done adequately, including an arguably more than fair potion system.
The game really does the source material justice with an outstanding art style that captures the charm, gritty themes and futuristic, dystopian tone of the show. The environments are repeated in some cases but offer enough variety considering the platform and the short run of the campaign. The mix of vibrant colours, barren landscapes, beautiful night-time vistas and warm tones in end game battles with the main antagonist, Aku. The sound quality also does a fine job of staying on brand with the show culminating in a presentation that does the cartoon justice.
A cartoon Castlevania clone
This game is a clunky, unpolished version of an all-time great. Which essentially makes this one a decent game in all respects. In terms of the content relating to the series, it handles this very well, delivering a game that really respects the Samurai Jack series. With great visuals, apt sound design and a plot that is in keeping with the overall plot of the cartoon.
The controls and gameplay are where this one falls down. The hitboxes, abilities, difficulty and enemy variation leave a lot to be desired. Perhaps it is the glaring similarity to Castlevania in its presentation that makes us judge this one more harshly than we might have otherwise. Though, if you borrow from the best, you have to make it as good if not better to not be criticised for it. Overall, a decent game that fans of the series will really enjoy and casual players who liked Castlevania may be able to tolerate.
- Great sound and visuals
- Varied environments
- Decent plot
- Varied abilities
- Uses some repeated assets
- Controls are clunky
- Unnecessary difficulty spikes.
Download Samurai Jack: The Amulet of Time
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP