Samurai Jack The Shadow of Aku
After the relative success of adapting the wacky, action-heavy cartoon, Samurai Jack into a video game in 2003 with the title, The Amulet Of Time. It was time for the series to plunge into the realm of fully-fledged console releases and would opt to present itself on the Gamecube as a Beat-em up meets platform adventure called Samurai Jack: The Shadow Of Aku.
This game plays rather similarly to other platform games with a focus on hack and slash mechanics. The game that perhaps most closely resembles this is the Maximo series that combines cartoon action with stylish combat mechanics and platform aspects.
Sticks to the script
The game’s plot sticks very rigidly to the themes and stories present in the cartoon. With sub plots and core characters lifted from the series making an appearance in the game. This is a welcome addition on a base level, however, these sub plots take precedence over the main storyline that seems to be wedged in with cut scenes to keep some sort of semblance of structure.
Though, there is barely time to notice the lack of cohesion between the action and the story as the campaign only lasts for about five hours and that’s with stopping to smell the roses along the way. However, the story is far from the biggest issue this title has.
Perhaps this was a theme of action platformers at the time but the combat mechanics are as basic as they come. The player is given a weak and strong attack that can be used to perform simple combos and there is also a range of projectiles you can use at range. This seems like a repertoire that is incapable of taking down the enemies synonymous in this series and yet you’ll have absolutely no struggle throughout the whole campaign. The difficulty is laughable with paper-thin enemies with little variation that will offer no hurdle to success what so ever. Plus, with an upgrade system that is more than generous, you’ll never find yourself underpowered or even matched for power throughout the entire run.
The platforming and puzzles are slightly more complex in their presentation but still over little difficulty as a whole. Some of the puzzles may have stumped a few players if they hadn’t been in such a linear level layout where even the most confused player will stumble upon the solution eventually. As a whole, the gameplay isn’t bad, it’s relentlessly mediocre and does nothing to push forward the platforming genre.
They don’t know Jack
The developers opted instead of using an engine that would accommodate the iconic Samurai Jack animation stuff, to use an existing engine which fails to deliver this style at all. The environments are drab and completely different from the tone of the series.
Almost no aspects are cel-shaded like the show, the animations are underwhelming considering the rather over the top style of the series and the game runs at an inconsistent FPS. The only saving grace is the character models that are accurate at least but overall, this is a big letdown. Especially when you consider the GBA game from the previous year’s success at replicating the cartoons art style.
A swing and a miss
This game aims to cash in on a popular series and the success of the handheld game from 2003. However, this game is not made with the fans in mind at all. The art style is generic, the animations are safe, the core gameplay offers little to entice even the most devoted platform gamer to play. Then the campaign although decent in parts, only lasts for a measly five hours at best.
The game does have the full cast of voice actors on hand to lend to the character’s likeness and the character models are handled well to support this. Though, this is a glimmer of hope in a game that is largely without merit. It’s not a game that should be condemned as bad as its not. What it does, it does fine. However, fine doesn’t translate to good and this game is not good at all, its forgettable and perhaps its better that way.
- Uses plots from the show
- Authentic voice acting
- Reasonably well designed puzzles
- Inconsistent frame rate
- Basic combat mechanics
- Ridiculously easy
- Generic, boring art style
Download Samurai Jack The Shadow of Aku
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
It's a classic story. Not unstoppable hero versus irresistible evil, although weve got that, too; the seen-it-a-million-times story here is great source material (Samurai Jack the cartoon) licensed to create a so-so game. But Jack isnt nearly as horrible as I feared. Yes, its bursting with boring action-platformer standards like key puzzles, a samurai version of slo-mo bullet time, and odd, glowing-green statuettes youve got to collect for no apparent reason, but it also does a decent job of re-creating the feel of the cartoon. The music is dead-on excellent, and the combat, though rarely challenging, looks pretty impressive at times. Still, the developers could have taken it much further. Zelda: Wind Waker-esque cartoony graphics style would have been perfect for Jack, who, now that hes 3D, looks kind of like Jay Leno or John Kerry what with his freakishly long chin. And the cut-scenes often the only good part of a licensed game like this are embarrassing. It aint bad, but my favorite cartoon samurai deserves even better.
Shadow ofAku em-ploys all the standard platformers mechanics double-jumping, scads of items to collect but deploys them well. Jacks strongest moves are too cumbersome to be useful, but his basic repertoire of sword slashes is more than enough to defeat Akus robots, whose patterns are satisfy-ingly easy to exploit. Vibrant, distinct levels and excellent music prove the games faithfulness to the cartoon. Its fun, a bit formulaic, and too short. But then, so is the show.
Your younger sibling could certainly do worse than Samurai Jack. Visually, its repellent, but tykes (and reviewer Paul low blow!) will be able to overlook the hideous backgrounds, simplistic structures, and busting-at-the-seams character models in order to enjoy the shockingly decent gameplay. Jack commands a sizable arsenal of moves chucking shuriken, bustin out arrows, and felling foes in bullet-time Zen mode feels almost like Ninja Gaiden-Wte. But formulaic levels and cakewalk difficulty will bore Jacks older fans.