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Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time – Game Review

The theme song is already in your head, isn’t it? It got lodged there for me as soon as I found out that we were getting a new Samurai Jack game. Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time is the latest from Soleil Ltd., published by Adult Swim Games. They previously made Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Strikers.

The conceit of this game allows them to make Battle Through Time a clip show – you dodge, roll, and slash your way through Jack’s greatest hits. It does this by interrupting the final battle in the new final season of Samurai Jack, so spoilers abound if you haven’t watched that yet. Jack must fight his way through his memories, whether it’s meeting the Scotsman or fighting Demongo, the Soul Collector.

Jack's iconic look, with sword drawn

The gameplay feels like a PS2/Gamecube-ish sort of action beat-em-up, in a good way. Once in a while the camera gets wonky, but on the whole it works. One tip I’ll give you – use all the weapons. I loved Jack’s iconic look with the sword but you get materials to level and skill up by using the other weapons.

The main story took me just under six hours to complete. There are challenge modes and collectibles, but I don’t feel the combat was SO good that I need to re-play levels or do the challenge modes to get all the achievements.

The graphics work well. It’s always difficult to translate a 2D traditionally animated show to 3D for a game, but they were successful here. Every voice actor is back except for Mako as Aku (may he rest in peace), but they have Greg Baldwin filling in, as he did for Uncle Iroh in the past.

Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time was a fun romp that took me back through all of Jack’s history. For me, $39.99 is probably more than I would spend on it (but YMMV if you enjoy this kind of action beat-em-up more than I do). It’s available on all the typical platforms, PC, Switch, PS4, and Xbox One. Thanks to Clara at Sandbox Strategies and the developers for the code to review! If you’d like to see my playthrough of the main story, this is the YouTube archive:

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Console Games

Old Game Tuesday – Final Fantasy VI

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The Title Screen

There was a time when I was perfectly happy just playing my original 8-bit NES. I had fun, time-consuming games like Final Fantasy and Uncharted Waters, and didn’t need any new console just for better graphics.

Then I was informed Final Fantasy II was coming to that newfangled SNES. Someone brought their system and the game and I was hooked.

I had to have it. So I got a Super Nintendo and FFI and played, and played and played. I couldn’t get all the way through, not without getting stuck or taking time away for a while…usually during the Earth crystal part, or the Tower of Bab-il. Final Fantasy III (which I came to know as VI later), on the other hand, I ripped through without stopping. It remains my favorite FF game in a landslide.

Why did I love it? For one, it was set in a more technologically advanced time, sort of steampunk-ish. That was pretty different to me, as the previous FF games and Dragon Warrior were all more medieval. The wide array of characters (with several battles that had more than one party in play) was something I hadn’t seen before. Graphically, it was an improvement over FFII (with the character sprites being larger and more expressive) and of course the music is fantastic. I was actually spurred on to write this (and play the game yet again) while searching ringtones for Final Fantasy VI. The story is a classic, with the typical ‘rebels fighting an evil empire’ motif…except the bad guy wins (for a while).

Exposition!
Exposition!

One other thing that stood out in going back to the game later in life is the sorts of issues the game speaks about, despite Nintendo of America’s normally draconian editing. Teen pregnancy, suicide, and the death of loved ones (not just vanishing into thin air) were all present. Notably, it’s also a game that did not suffer nearly as much as it’s US predecessor in translation (“you spoony bard!”, actually having no gameplay tweaks to make it easier). I mean, the game features an Opera performance for crying out loud, and I still enjoyed it. That should be all you need to know.

If you like RPG games at all, especially the Japanese style, you owe it to yourself to check it out. In addition to the original Final Fantasy III released in the US, you can also play this on Game Boy Advance and the original PlayStation.