Steam Game Review: Usagi Yojimbo - Way of the Ronin (2015)

Posted by Retrokaiser On Monday, March 2, 2015 0 comments

"Usagi Yojimbo - Way of the Ronin" is an arcade styled 2D beat 'em up based on the classic comic book character, Usagi Yojimbo, you might also remember him from the classic cartoon "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987 - 1996)" as he appeared as a guest from time to time.  This game opens up with a dark and mysterious character sent on a journey from the gods to gain a magic mirror that'll release the "Old Ones" from a cave to cleanse the world from evil.  We now cut to our hero whom is walking down a small town and notices a mean gang are beating up a priest.  Usagi stops the gang and is told by the dying priest that he needs to obtain the mirror and protect it as a clan of demons are after it, if they gain it they'll do something terrible with the mirror that will put the whole world in jeopardy (I'm going to take "We're doomed!" for $200).  Sadly it isn't that easy to retrieve the mirror as an evil gang has it and so thus he must get it from them while also battling everyone else who wants the mirror.  Run rabbit, run rabbit, run, run, run.  (Click "Read More" to read the full review).

That's right, as Usagi's last appearance in a game was back in 1988.  The game was called "Samurai Warrior: The Battles of Usagi Yojimbo" and was for the Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, and ZX Spectrum..
The story in this game is very generic and predictable and it was also missing the charm found in the Usagi Yojimbo comics and his cartoon appearances.  The story is also hard to follow at times due to some scenes trying to make this simple story more deep and complex but it just ends up confusing you.  The dialogue in this game is also very stiff and forced to where it doesn't feel like that the characters you know and love are talking as instead they feel like cheap imitations of the real thing.  Usagi Yojimbo was the character they came close to getting right but the problem with his dialogue is that they made him way too na├»ve and he just seems like an idiot during some of the cut-scenes.  I know that sounds really harsh but I'm not saying that to be rude as I'm just telling it how I see it.

Gameplay is that of an old arcade beat 'em up game like "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1989)" and that's perfect for this character.  The gameplay isn't as fast as the Ninja Turtles arcade game but more of a slower paced beat 'em up that has you beating up thugs and demons with your sword and feels more like a fantasy version of "Final Fight (1989)" or "Double Dragon (1987).  Sadly the gameplay is really flawed as the hit detection is really off most of the time to where you get weird bugs.  One weird bug I got was caused when I swung my sword towards the opposite direction of my opponents and ended up hitting and killing enemies that were not only behind me but were also at the opposite end of the screen.  The enemies can also spawn in weird places to where they can appear on top of the scenery and look like they are walking on thin air.  This also makes it very hard to defeat them as you won't be able to hit them with normal moves but the special moves will work on the broken enemies but you'll probably just end up restarting the level and hoping it doesn't happen again.

Usagi Yojimbo has several kind of attacks and you will really need an USB controller plugged in if you want to use them all comfortably as the keyboard is only comfortable for walking, jumping, and the basic attack.  Actually you shouldn't bother using an USB controller to learn all the special attacks as the special attacks are very useless for the most part and only come in handy for broken enemies, even then you only need to do the jumping special attack which can be done easily on keyboards.  Other than using the special attacks for broken enemies you'll be fine just playing through this game with the basic attack due to the difficulty being very easy.

The enemies in this game sure look tough and menacing but sadly this is a case of where the dog's bark is worse than his bite as the enemies in this game are push overs and you won't even find yourself using the heath items in this game until the last few stages.  You can find health items in this game by smashing certain parts of the scenery and they give you a good amount of health.  Some levels will have you partnered up with another character from the series and the A.I. (artificial intelligence) on the characters is decent as the characters didn't get in the way nor did they do stupid stuff like purposely get themselves killed.  When the other characters do get knocked out you can just walk up to them and revive them by pressing a button but I only needed to do that once during the whole game.  When you do kill enemies you get coins and you can use those coins to upgrade your health and strength and it was an okay feature but you won't find yourself doing much upgrading if any at all. 

This game has a decent amount of levels and most of them were fairly short and so you can beat this game in less than ninety minutes.  This game does have a password system that's used to unlock stuff but I have no idea how much you can unlock as I've only been able to use it to unlock one bonus level.  One major problem with the menu system is the lack of an exit button and so if you are playing this game in full screen you'll have to either reset your computer, Ctrl+Alt+Delete to exit the game, or find a way to switch to windowed mode as you can exit the game in windowed mode by clicking the good ol' red x button.

Graphics in this game have a 2D comic book style and the characters and backgrounds in this game look very nice and does help capture that comic book feeling.  There was a weird problem with the background scenery during one stage as when you walk past a certain part you'll notice that you can see Usagi Yojimbo walk behind it even though it's supposed to be background art and it does look awkward.  What does ruin the graphics for me though is the animation as it is very flimsy like a cheap flash game and it is very off-putting.  Music in this game is very generic but it does go well with every level.

Yep, a decent amount indeed.
Overall it was a very brilliant idea making a beat 'em up based on Usagi Yojimbo but sadly the execution was far from being brilliant.  This isn't a game I recommend playing and I do recommend you staying away from this game at all costs and don't even redeem the Steam key if this game was every to be in a bundle.  Disappointing game.

Game: Usagi Yojimbo - Way of the Ronin
System: PC
Developer/Publisher: HappyGiant
Genre: Action, Adventure, Beat 'em Up
Price: $4.99 (Steam)
Recommended: No


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