Samurai Jack: the Shadow of Aku
Samurai Jack, the Cartoon Network animated series, rocks. Samurai Jack: The Shadow of Aku, the not-so-animated game, stands as merely passable. In his first videogame outing, the sword-slinging, shuriken-tossing Jack destroys robots aplenty, rescues villagers, and collects little green artifacts—to be sure, the fun things in life.
Graphics here are grainy at best. With the advancement of animation over the last five years, Aku should be an almost-perfect reproduction of the show. Oddly, however, Aku for Xbox has a cheery sort of brightness not reflected by the cartoon that inspired it. Yet in contrast, close-ups of Jack and other characters during the various vignettes show off a muddy aesthetic.
All-too-sensitive controls and odd views sparked by a flaky camera detract from the experience. Moving Jack along a catwalk without the camera placed directly behind him means frustration when the samurai falls off and lives, or doom when the fall is fatal, and then it’s back to where the game was last saved. This is a bad thing, especially for a game emphasizing platform hopping and fighting.
Still, a person could easily waste several hours traveling Jack’s oversized stomping grounds. It’s just genuinely unfortunate that the cartoon consistently scores touchdowns whereas the game fumbles like a man with melted butter on his fingers.
Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in Xbox Nation.