Afro-Samurai: The Dead That Can’t Acknowledge It’s Buried
By Gwendolyn L. Spelvin
When Afro-Samurai was released on consoles, the PC platform was intentionally skipped. No big deal, as its functions and character movement is identical to the Samurai Champloo game that was released a console generation back few years before. The game was just okay, and nothing to write home about. After all, if you have seen the films, you’ve pretty much know the plot.
For some odd reason, after lackluster sales a sequel was planned, and in the fall of 2015 both the console and PC platform was finally able to get their hands on the ironically anticipated follow up.
Understanding the story of the film is crucial into understanding the failures of the franchise itself; these parameters provoked the quiet arrival of Afro-Samurai 2: Revenge of Kuma Volume One, which was sullenly dead on arrival out of the box.
The aggravating plot point of the films is the bloodlust revenge; the main theme is Afro accomplishing revenge in the name of his father and obtaining his father’s previous title of Mr. Number One with a matching headband. Afro’s decisions affect all he encounters in the worst way imaginable, as death and destruction lay in his path.
Unknown enemies manipulate the situation by bringing Afro’s friends and/or family turned enemies back from the dead as Robocop type creations; the secondary theme of the franchise is these characters new life force exclusively feeds off their pain, anguish, and disgust at Afro abandoning and/or sacrificing them for his own motives.
Afro-Samurai 2: Revenge of Kuma Volume One continues this struggle of never ending self-loathing vengeful aspirations through the life of Kuma, who is a primary casualty of Afro’s quest. Early in life both he and Afro were orphan brothers, until their village was attacked and Afro abandoned his peers for a chance to advance his quest to find his father’s killer. Kuma bears witness to his orphan siblings and sister being killed, as well as his master by Afro’s hand for holding a headband that will advance the quest of drawing out Mr. Number One.
It’s unclear whether Kuma was killed outright, but he does go crazy ridiculous sociopath from the severity of his injuries. Due to enemy meddling, he is rebuilt to be Robocop with dual swords. And that is about all you have for a storyline and its only volume one!!!
What brings it down to hell is the constant repetition of pock shots and ass kissing of bringing up contemporary celebrities in a world where they never existed, rampant misogyny featuring enough female exploitation to make 2 Live Crew or Duke Nukem blush, and even by Grand Theft Auto standards, way too much cursing.
Don’t get me wrong, nudity and cursing is great in the right context and both are a part of life. However, when it is used as a distraction to the shortcomings of the entry, or just overkill without any justification ala Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas using the “N” word every other word, it doesn’t work and doesn’t hide the poor programming. There should have been full frontal male nudity to balance out the titty fest going on in random parts of scenes that had absolutely nothing to do with the plot point.
Cursing, overall, was just weird; no one in the films nor the first entry sounded anything remotely close to a sailor, so why all of a sudden Kuma has a potty mouth is a bit cumbersome considering it doesn’t match his vengefulness.
Just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, the actual indulgent gameplay takes root, and reminds you why sometimes a thought should never be spoken. Afro-Samurai 2: Revenge of Kuma Volume One is just so bad that it makes Rambo: The Video Game look like a Triple A title winning Game of the Year.
There is no definitive separation between play and cut scenes. Seriously, you never can tell what is a true cut scene and what is actual gameplay, as both are confusingly ambiguous to what you are supposed to be doing. Never ever go to the world map for clues. Navigating the tunnels of Vietnam all the way down to the bottom would be less work. And that is the fun to be had between random restarts, frozen glitches that require reboots, and losing your character in the background images of the screen.
No one likes this game. It’s just a piece of licensed shit milked way beyond its shelf life. The first Afro-Samurai was already at the death threshold after the oversaturation of the films and subsequent comic books releases. It had already worn on the nerves of the niche community that likes these types of Japanimation creations. Now with the release of Afro-Samurai 2: Revenge of Kuma Volume One, it’s just beating the dead horse.
If we have learned anything from Castlevania we should have learned that when the dead have arisen, stick a stake through the heart, bump out some holy water, and cast out the evil. Why developer Versus Evil didn’t get the memo about Afro-Samurai 2: Revenge of Kuma Volume One is beyond me; having to pull it from PSN Network and Steam, and cancelling the rest of this messy trilogy has cost them far more than a piece of wood and some water from a baptismal font.