Review – Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time

Samurai Jack is one of those shows that was destined to become a cult classic the second the pilot episode was aired. It was completely different from anything else being showcased on Cartoon Network at the time. It featured a distinct art style, a big emphasis on stylish cuts, and very little voice acting when compared to the rest of the network’s offerings. Although didn’t last long, those who watched it loved it. Even to the point of succeeding at reviving the series in 2017, for one final (and more violent) season meant to wrap up its then-unfinished story. We also ended up getting a brand new game due to this revival, and boy, am I glad it doesn’t suck.

Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time

Sir Colin Bartholomew Montgomery Rothchild III making a comeback.

Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time is a passion projected published by Adult Swim Games and developed by Soleil, a small Japanese studio most famous for Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Striker and Ninjala, that F2P game everybody thought looked way too similar to Splatoon. Simply put, those guys know their stuff when it comes to fast-paced action games featuring cartoonish samurai and ninjas. They ended up being a perfect pick for the project, porting the world of Samurai Jack into a surprisingly solid hack n’ slash game clearly inspired by Capcom’s Onimusha and Devil May Cry games.

This is a retelling of the show, set immediately after the final showdown in the series finale. Although, instead of ending as you’d expect, the villain Aku manages to mess up with the time space continuum, throwing our protagonist Jack in a series of levels set in a void between timelines. This a perfect excuse to recreate all of the famous locales from the show without having to risk raising the levels of ludonarrative dissonance. Think of it as “Samurai Jack‘s greatest hits”, don’t pay too much attention to the plot and just rejoice with the fanservice and smooth combat.

Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time

Think of this as a Sekiro boss battle, but instead of fighting the Owl, you’re fighting a big and ugly Scotsman.

The gameplay is freaking sweet, albeit hampered by obvious budgetary constraints. Its main inspiration is Devil May Cry: you have a strong attack, a heavy attack, and a dodge button. You also have the option to equip a series of ranged weapons to either stagger foes or kill those who far from your sword’s reach. You can also acquire scythes, hammers, staves and so on. However, they don’t have unlimited durability like your main sword, so you need to pay attention to their “health meter” of sorts. You can repair them whenever you find Da Samurai, who acts as this game’s merchant. Finally, there is a huge skill tree that lets you purchase abilities by spending Kiai Fire, this game’s equivalent of DMC‘s orbs.

There are some clear nods to Sekiro and Dark Souls as well, believe it or not. Boss battles are much harder than what you would expect from a Cartoon Network game, often relying on precise parrying and dodging. The tried and true lock-on mechanic present in most soulslike games is also present in here. This is an absolute godsend whenever you’re thrown into a room with literal dozens of enemies in it, with the camera going absolute haywire if you don’t decide to focus your aim on a specific foe at a time.

Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time

The game features some out of place 2.5D platforming sections.

There are also some moments in which Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time just decides to become a 2.5D platformer from out of nowhere. These sections aren’t hard at all, but they often show up without any warning, making you initially think there is an issue with your controls and the game’s camera as a whole. It’s not exactly a standout feature, but it does add a small yet noticeable layer of variety to what would have otherwise been way too much of a straightforward 3D character action game.

Being a licensed game based on an animated show with a very distinctive art style, I was cautiously looking forward to seeing what Soleil would do regarding Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time‘s presentation. In short, it looks and feels like a Gamecube game, but one of the better looking ones.

Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time

Most unlikely bromance of the past two decades.

To my surprise, the developers didn’t decide to go with a cel-shaded art style, like they’ve previously done with their Naruto game. Instead, characters look like what you would expect from licensed cartoon games from fifteen years ago, but with vastly improved facial and moving animations. It still feels very much like a Samurai Jack product, complete with stylish scene cuts and a lack of black lines surrounding each character. It also runs at a buttery smooth 60fps, which is always a plus in a fast-paced action game like this.

Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time

If anything, Jack can start his own robotic pest control business.

The sound design is also pretty good. The developers have managed to bring the entire cast of the show back to reprise their roles, with the obvious exception of Aku’s original voice actor, Mako Iwamatsu, who sadly passed away in 2006. The soundtrack also feels like it was taken straight from the animated series, without any rearrangings or remixes. It still retains the show’s staple mix between hip hop and traditional Japanese music. Sadly,’s iconic theme song is not featured in here, that being the only instance in my life I’ll ever ask for the inclusion of one of his tunes in any piece of media ever. The show’s opening intro with Aku’s monologue is still present in here, however, it just ends right when the song was supposed to begin.

Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time

I remember this guy way back from his “Dial M for Monkey” days.

Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time feels like a relic from a bygone era. It’s almost like I’ve just unearthed a previously unreleased licensed title from the Gamecube and PS2 era. Don’t get me wrong, if this had been released back in the day, it would have been considered a classic. This is a surprisingly well-put licensed title that won’t simply just please fans of the source material, but anyone who’s into a good old hack n’ slash title. It might have some camera and control issues, but all in all, I never thought I’d ever play a Samurai Jack game in this day and age, let alone one as robust as this.


Graphics: 7.5

It would have benefited from adopting a cel-shaded visual style to resemble its source material with more fidelity, but it still looks quite decent. It also runs at a smooth 60fps.

Gameplay: 7.5

It’s a fast-paced hack n’ slash gameplay loop that fits perfectly with the cartoon’s premise. Some clunky combos and camera issues bring the experience down a bit, however.

Sound: 8.5

The show’s cast is back reprising their roles. The soundtrack and overall sound effects also feel like they came directly from the show itself.

Fun Factor: 8.5

Despite some issues regarding its level design and camera problems, this is a great love letter to the classic cartoon. With that being said, anyone who’s a hack n’ slash fan can have tons of fun with it, as mowing down dozens of enemies at any given moment always feels incredibly satisfying.

Final Verdict: 8.0

Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch.

Reviewed on Xbox One.

A copy of Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time was provided by the publisher.