Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC, Apple Arcade)

Samurai Jack was one of Cartoon Network’s most unique, artful, and beloved action cartoons.  A heroic samurai from feudal Japan battles a shapeshifting demon named Aku.  But Aku sends the samurai into a time portal to the future where Aku reigns supreme.  The first person who sees the samurai in the future calls him “Jack,” so that’s the name he goes by here.  Now Samurai Jack must find a way back to the past so he can defeat Aku for good.  The cool thing about the cartoon is that it actually had an ending, although it took it long enough to get there.  Nearly two decades after the initial run, they added one last season on Adult Swim that was a bit darker and bloodier, but Jack FINALLY beat Aku!  This new video game takes place when Jack and his love interest Ashi are in the portal going to the past.  Aku has one final trick up his sleeve and grabs Jack and sends him to a place between time and space where he must fight familiar foes.  Flimsy story aside, it’s a great way for fans to relive their favorite scenes, enemies, and friends in this 3-D action game.  Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time is available on nearly anything you can play a game on, but reviewed on PS4 here.

You play as Jack as you run though pretty straightforward 3-D stages, with a few 2-D sections thrown in here and there.  You’ll travel to familiar spots from the cartoon like the dog mines, futuristic cities, and the bug filled space cube.  Along the way you’ll fight all sorts of robots, ninjas, and bounty hunters from the cartoon, and at the end of each stage you’ll fight a boss that’s also one of Jack’s familiar formidable foes.  Jack can run, jump, guard, dodge, throw, swing his sword and other weapons, plus use special attacks.  You’d think using all the buttons on the PS4 controller would be confusing, but I didn’t have much trouble with it, and usually I do.  They just do a good job with button placement and easing you into the gameplay.  You have an energy meter and when you take too many hits and it depletes all the way, you’ll have to start at the last checkpoint.  One cool thing they do is as you take damage, your gi will rip and tear and show battle damage, just like in the cartoon!

Not only can Jack use his magic sword, but he can wield other weapons as well.  These include staffs and clubs, as well as long distance projectiles like bows and arrows, ninja stars, and even guns!  His magic sword will never break, but other weapons can with repeated usage.  You can find new weapons and ammo in treasure chests, or repair or buy more from a shopkeeper you meet every so often in the stages.  You buy items with gold from defeated enemies.  Enemies will also drop flame icons, which you can collect to upgrade your skills via a skill tree.  These skills include new moves, more energy and health, and the ability to hold more items.  I love how they reference the show in the skill tree, too.  One of the moves lets you jump higher, and the text for the skill read that you can “Jump Good.”  Fans of the show will get that reference.

The game does have a few problems.  Camera angles were rarely problematic, but it did happen sometimes.  The skill tree is neat, but I don’t know how you’re supposed to get all the upgrades!  Maybe you get more items in the harder difficulties?  Speaking of which, I’m glad there were multiple difficulty selections, but even on the easiest one, I was kept on my toes and it took me three times to defeat the last boss.  I can’t imagine playing the game on the harder levels!  Also, some may say the game is a bit short.   I didn’t mind it, as it just meant the game didn’t wear out its welcome.  Plus when you beat the game you unlock extra missions, and can try other difficulty levels, so there is some replay value.

But despite the problems, this is a really good licensed action game.  They got all the voice actors form the cartoon, which is neat.  Some of my family members even though I was watching the cartoon instead of playing a game!  It feels like something you would’ve played on the PS2, and that’s a good thing in this case.  I think there was a Samurai Jack game on the PS2, but it was different from this one.  At any rate, if you’re a fan of Samurai Jack and action games in general, then you’ll want to check this one out.

Kid Factor:

Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time is rated T for Teen with ESRB descriptors of Violence and Blood.  You chop and slice all manner of enemies in half with swords, guns, and other weapons, but most of the enemies you fight are robots, just like in the cartoon.  Late in the game there are a couple of scenes with cartoon blood and killing to reflect the darker tone of the last season, though.  If you’re OK with your kids watching the Samurai Jack cartoon, including the last season, then they’ll be OK with this game.  Younger players may find it too difficult, though.

One Response to “Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC, Apple Arcade)”

  1. I really liked the Samurai Jack cartoon, but there are a lot of episodes I haven’t watched. Cool that this game isn’t bad.

Discussion Area - Leave a Comment

Tired of typing this out each time? Register as a subscriber!