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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published by: Bandai
Developed by: Grasshopper Manufacture
Genre: Action
Rated: T (Teen)
Players: 1- 2
Release Date: April 11, 2006

Usually when a new anime game comes out I pretty much completely ignore it. But seeing as Samurai Champloo happens to be one of my favorite shows (I own the entire series on DVD) and the game is developed by Grasshopper (Killer 7) I figured Sidetracked would be at least worth a look.

For those unfamiliar with the source material, Samurai Champloo is basically an anime show that mixes Samurai action with hip hop music. Thatís pretty much what the game is about as well.

When I first turned the game on it was pretty cool to see the showís rap music video opening adapted into opening credits for the gameís staff. From there on the game upholds the showís style well enough. Iím just not sure why they saw the need to replace the anime character designs with more realistic CGI models in the cutscenes when maybe they could have cooperated with manglobe to rip footage from the show into the game or even animate new footage. Some cel-shading might also have brought the gameís graphics closer to the graffiti-style art of the show.

Other than that, everything feels like it fits in with the show. The voice acting (only the absence of Mugenís original English VA is missed), the dialogue, the hip hop mix style editing, and even the episode structure makes this game feel like a part of the show. But the way this game plays makes me think that maybe thatís what it should have been - just another episode of the show.

To put it in short, you donít really get to play the game that much, and when you do itís pretty repetitive.

I will admit that this game does feature one of the most interesting concepts for a combo system Iíve ever seen and it even fits in nicely with the style of the show. While playing the game you have a rap record playing that has its own combo tree that you can use to fight enemies. You can have two equipped at a time which you can switch between instantly. You can even buy new records, each one with its own song and its own combo tree. I only wish that I could mix two records together like a DJ would and create my own custom combo tree, which really could have given more incentive to buy new records.

The problem with the battle system is that itís wasted on hack ní slash gameplay. With the exception of bosses the enemies in this game can all pretty much be taken down by mashing the square button. There are nice little minigames during combat, but those just require more button mashing. But thatís all just while youíre playing the game and not watching a cutscene or loading screen.

Probably Sidetrackedís biggest problem is that loadtimes and cutscenes occur far too often and are far too slow. There are parts in the game where you will play for literally seconds between one loading screen and another, and each one can last up to half a minute long. The dialogue in the cutscenes also moves much slower than it should, which only adds to the boredom.

Big fans of the show might want to play this game purely for the side story plot and the style, but as a game, Samurai Champlooís potentially genius combo system is wasted on repetitive button mashing and an obnoxious abundance of cutscenes and loadscreens. So the result a side episode of Samurai Champloo in which you watch the story through cutscenes and mash the square button every few minutes to advance the plot.


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