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Why the hell haven't you played Afro Samurai?

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If you're over 25 and own a PS3, you must play this game

Every time I see a discussion of underappreciated or underrated games, it's always the same ole usual suspects: Spec Ops: The Line, Binary Domain, Ninja Blade, Deadly Premonition, and so on. Whenever I bring up Afro Samurai there's never anyone else who chimes in about it.

Sure, the sequel was so horrendously broken they canceled it after episode one, refunded everyone's money, and took it off all digital stores. But the first is a goddamn classic and shame on you if you haven't played it.

The hack-n-slash gameplay is simple but very engaging and makes for cinematic fights, especially when you have RZA blasting badass hip-hop while you clash blades with ninjas and samurai. The original soundtrack is one of my favorites of all time, right up there with Halo and Kingdom Hearts, full of high-quality tracks that put you in the exact right mindset.

Afro Samurai borrows the same plot from the anime, but in my personal opinion the game delivers the story far better, especially regarding Ninja Ninja and Justice. The voice acting is top notch, as to be expected from Samuel L. Jackson. The only thing it does not do as well as the anime is develop the backstory of Jinno/Kuma, but it's forgivable when the overall plot is solid and the Kuma fight is so cool.

Boss fights are unforgettable; there is nothing else like them. You have a former samurai turned into a tornado-creating half-robot who wears a large bear head. The final boss, from a storytelling perspective, remains one of my all-time favorite final boss encounters in any game. I still occasionally watch it on YouTube to feel hyped; but don't spoil it for yourself until you play it.

The "Okay, this game is something special" moment comes when you're crossing a regular old bridge chopping up ninjas. Out of nowhere (no lead-up or extended cutscene; it just happens) Afro Samurai's robotic doppelganger smashes through the bridge and carries him high into the sky, transitioning into a doppelganger boss fight while free-falling (look at this shit, LOOK AT IT) towards Earth with music so fucking cool they re-use it in a section of the final boss. I will allow such recycling when the song is that good and the recycling is limited.

Sure, it's not perfect. Some linearity and repetitive fighting will get to people. It commits the unforgivable sin of having unskippable cutscenes, but all is forgiven when the overall experience gets blood pumping in your veins and makes you want to go jump out of a plane (use a parachute please). This gem is probably only like a dollar or something on eBay, and takes only about seven hours to beat. Once you do, you'll understand why the sequel becoming an absolute train-wreck was so disappointing.


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Cory Arnold
Cory Arnold   gamer profile

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    Filed under... #Action #Hack n Slash #Namco Bandai #PS3 #samurai #Xbox 360

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