Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time is a 2020 hack-n-slash game based on the Samurai Jack TV series. It is a 3D hack-and-slash where players control Jack as he travels through different timelines towards his final showdown with Aku.
It was first announced on February 25, 2020 and was released on August 21, 2020.
The game primarily consists of Jack going to an area, defeating all the enemies in that area, then moving on to the next area, and so on. Some of the areas and enemies are optional for completing the level, while others such as boss fights are mandatory. There are four difficulty levels: Jack, Samurai, Master Samurai, and Master of Masters, the last of which can only be unlocked by completing each of the other levels on Master Samurai difficulty. Jack can use strong attacks, quick attacks, ranged weapons, combos, and Kiai Attacks. Kiai attacks can only be used after the player has filled their Kiai Fire gauge, but when used, Jack is temporarily invincible and deals massive damage in a manner specific to the kind of weapon he currently has equipped and his proficiency level in that weapon class.
In addition to his starting Magic Sword and bare fists, which are unbreakable, Jack can acquire a wide range of other weapons which can wear out and break. They fall under the following categories: Swords, Axes, Hammers, Spears, Clubs, Thrown Weapons, Handguns, Machine Guns, Bows and Arrows. He can also acquire Consumables (which can be consumed to give Jack health and temporary bonuses), Collectibles (Corrupted Emperor's Kamon), Prayer Beads (Bracelets which Jack can equip to provide non-temporary stat bonuses), and Jewelry (magic Jewels which Jack can sell or spend to unlock certain skills). Jack can acquire weapons from certain enemies by defeating them with a throw while his fists are equipped.
In exchange for enough Gold, Jack can buy and sell weapons, ammunition, and consumables at Da Samurai's shop, which you can access by talking to him at any of the various locations where he appears. But the kinds of items Da Samurai has in stock differ from location to location, and he has a limited supply of each per location. You can also spend Gold at his shop in return for repairs, which restore durability in weapons that have been worn out from use in combat, and weapon training, each purchase of which increases Jack's proficiency in one the various classes of melee weapons by one level. Some of Jack's other allies, Sir Rothchild, The Scotsman, and The Scotsman's Daughters, appear throughout various levels as well and can be interacted with for gameplay advice and a single item each.
Jack has a skill tree with three categories: Physical, Spiritual, and Combat. The various skills in each can be unlocked by spending blue Skill Fire, green Bushido Spirit, and occasionally specific kinds of Jewels. Jewels can only be acquired from allies and chests in certain levels, and specific kinds of Jewels can only be found by playing or replaying the specific levels they are available in. Skill Fire, Bushido Spirit, Kiai Fire, and Gold can be acquired by defeating enemies, finding them in chests and destructible objects, and collecting them floating midair in certain places. Blue Skill Fire can be found in overabundance compared to the green Bushido Spirit, which is much less plentiful and will ultimately be the limiting factor towards completing one's skill tree. Skill Fire can also be acquired as a reward for completing Challenges, various side-objectives the game keeps track of in the Records menu. One such challenge is opening all 100 different chests in the game.
There are 50 Corrupted Emperor's Kamon and 100 chests in all, and while many of them are in obvious locations, some are more difficult to find. So unless one is following a guide, one would likely require multiple playthroughs of each level to acquire them all. Many require shooting far-off medals or skulls with well-aimed bow-and-arrow shots.
The game picks up during the finale of season 5, immediately after Jack has freed Ashi from Aku's control and begins traveling back to the past with her. In a desperate, last-minute attempt to prevent his destruction at the samurai's hand, Aku transports Jack into a time pocket, a rift of time and space that is not affected by the main timeline and under the demon's complete control, forcing Jack to relive many of the challenges he has faced before in familiar locations. However, as Aku states at the start of the second level, everything in the time pocket isn't as it seems and the new dangers will stop at nothing to finish Jack off. Aku also corrupted the royal family's kamon crests with his black magic and scattered them throughout the world. As a side-quest, Jack must destroy them to weaken Aku.
Now separated from Ashi, Jack resolves to overcome Aku's final scheme, reunite with Ashi, and engage in a final showdown with the demonic shapeshifter, both in the present and the past, to ensure his ultimate destruction once and for all. He is aided in this by some of the various allies made over the course of his past heroic deeds, namely Da Samurai, Sir Rothchild, the Scotsman and his daughters. Curiously, many of Jack's allies and some of his enemies seem to remember the events of the previous timeline, but physically each appears to have reverted to the state/age they were when Jack first met them, and they remain that way throughout the game.
For most of the game, Jack fights through various robots, demons, and bounty hunters, as well a score of other past foes, destroying the bosses' Pendants of Aku to get to the next level, until he returns to the village where he fought Scaramouche having returned to his bearded, armored look. After beheading Scaramouche, the disembodied android tells him that Aku has gotten rid of the pendants, and Aku transports him to the Snowy Forest where he fought Ashi and her sisters, who attack him once again. The original Ashi implores Jack to save her sisters as he saved her, but despite his best efforts, he fails to do so. After slaying all the other Daughters of Aku, Jack convinces Ashi to lay down her arms, only for Aku to fatally shove her into his sword.
While transitioning between levels, the bearded, armored Jack falls into despair over killing Ashi. A second Jack, who is clean-shaven and wearing his white gi, appears to and has a conversation with him. The second Jack tells the bearded Jack that the Daughters and the other foes he's faced between time aren't real, they're just shadows Aku created because he knows the only way he can keep Jack trapped there is to break his spirit. The bearded Jack insists that he won't let Aku succeed, and the two merge back into a single Jack, in his shaved form.
Jack returns to the Prison Ship where he fought Lazarus-92 and slays it again, only to then be opposed by the Ashi he killed, now being puppeteered by Aku. The morbid Ashi thrusts him through a portal to the robot graveyard where Jack had fought the Guardian and Ashi. Aku transforms this Ashi into her blackened corrupted form, who Jack defeats in a boss fight, but he cannot bring himself to kill her again. Just as she's about to kill him, the real Ashi pokes her head out from a time portal and blasts her doppelganger into oblivion. She tells Jack he's close to reuniting with her and prompts him to travel through another portal. It takes him to Aku's Tower, where Aku and an army of Beetle Drones and Celtic Demons are waiting for him, but Jack's allies also portal in to aid him.
Jack cuts through the remains of Aku's armies with the aid of the Scotsman, Flora, Da Samurai, and Sir Rothchild, and engages in a final showdown with his hated nemesis within his fortress. Finally defeating Aku, the time pocket the demon created begins to collapse on him as the portal back to Ashi and the past opens back up for Jack. Expressing disbelief that his final plans have failed, Aku refuses to surrender just before Jack delivers the final blow, destroying the shapeshifter once and for all in the present/future. Jack is reunited with Ashi as both are transported back to the past where Jack finally destroys Aku, alongside his fortress, undoing all his evil in the future.
If the player defeats Aku after destroying all 50 Corrupted Emperor's Kamon medals, they will be treated to a unique scene similar to but separate from the original finale's conclusion. Ashi and Jack are able to finally marry in his liberated homeland and, rather than Ashi fading away and Jack standing alone (as the show had ended), Ashi and Jack happily embrace near fields and mountains of cherry-blossoms. Jack has finally destroyed Aku, both in the future and the past, freed his family and homeland, and is finally content and happy with Ashi, the woman who restored his hope.
- Aku's Mines / Swamp Village
- Castle of Boon / Mountain
- Cave Of The Ancient
- Undead Cemetery
- Aku City / Western Train
- Ruined City
- Snowy Forest / Ruined Tomb
- Sahara Desert / Prison Ship / Robot Graveyard
- Aku's Tower
- Sir Rothchild
- Da Samurai
- The Scotsman
- The Scotsman's Daughters
- Odin, Ra, & Rama (when using Gift of the Gods)
- Beetle Drones
- Beetle Bots
- Alligator Robots
- Bounty Hunters
- Celtic Demons
- Skeleton Warriors
- Dust Zombies
- Tick Drones
- The Scotsman
- Giant Beetle Drones
- The Lava Monster
- The Hag Witch
- Imakandi Warriors
- Josephine and Ezekiel Clench
- Scaramouche's Golem
- The Daughters of Aku
- Mako Iwamatsu as Past Aku (archive sound)
- Greg Baldwin as Aku
- Phil LaMarr as Samurai Jack
- Tara Strong as Ashi, Daughters of Aku, Computer Voice
- Rob Paulsen as Sir Rothchild
- David Alan Grier as Da Samurai
- John DiMaggio as The Scotsman, Zeke
- Grey DeLisle as The Scotsman's Daughters, Josephine Clench
- Kevin Michael Richardson as Demongo, Imakandi Warriors
- Richard McGonagle as Ancient King
- B.J. Ward as Hag Witch the Evil Spirit
- Tom Kenny as Scaramouche
References to the series
Due to the style of the game's plot, many references are made to the show across its history.
- Like in Episode CI, the show's original opening is included. In this case, it appears upon starting up the game. Aku's narration can also be heard periodically at certain points in the Aku City level.
- The game's title screen not only recreates the show's ending, it also pays homage to part of the Season 5 opening.
- Da Samurai's shop theme is a recycled version of his flashback music from Episode XCVII.
- The "Select Stage" screen includes an image of Ashi in the leaf dress she wore from Episode XCVII through to Episode XCIX.
- Breakable pots found in some levels depict various events from Episode XXXIV, Episode XXXVII and Episode XLVIII.
- The "Items" section of the pause menu shows Jack with the hat he made in Episode XCIX.
- The "Skills" section of the pause menu has an image of Jack in his meditative position as seen in Episode XCVIII.
- Aku statues seen throughout the game resemble the one worshipped by the Cult of Aku. These act in the manner of switches.
- The challenge named "Clubbing like DJ Stylbator" is a reference to the antagonist of Episode XXVIII.
- Jack can perform the Shaolin monks' hand signal and Water Beetle fighting style stance from Episode XXXVI by holding Light Attack and Heavy Attack respectively while Samurai Fist is equipped.
- Jack's ability to Jump Good, which he first learned in Episode XIV, appears as an unlockable skill.
- Aku's Mines
- Boon's Castle
- Based on the events of Episode XVII.
- The giant Beetle Drones fought at the end bring to mind the one seen in Episode XCIII.
- Cave of the Ancient
- Based on the events of Episode X.
- Undead Cemetery
- Based on the events of Episode XXX. The Dust Zombies themselves appear in this game as enemies, primarily in this level.
- Aku City
- Based primarily on the events of Episode XXII.
- Various poster adverts seen throughout the level make references to other episodes, specifically Episode VII, Episode XIV, Episode XVI and Episode XLV.
- One poster advertising acting courses is a reference to both Mako (Aku's original voice actor) and his performance company, the East West Players.
- The alien whose vehicle Jack stole in an attempt to stay ahead of the Imakandi appears as a newscaster on certain screens.
- In the bar, the skeletal fish creature from Episode XCV appears as a decoration. The "Funk-A-Chop" sign is also a reference to Episode XCVII. A preceding cinematic before the next Imakandi encounter also shows the Clenches looking at an updated version of Jack's wanted poster from the start of Episode XVII.
- The last section is based on a location from Episode XXIX.
- Ruined City
- Based on the events of Episode XCII.
- Snowy Forest
- Based on the events of Episode XCIII and Episode XCIV.
- Prison Ship
- Based primarily on the events of Episode XCIX.
- The final section where the corrupted Ashi is fought is the robot graveyard as seen in Episode C.
- Aku's Tower
- Repeats most of the events of Episode CI.
- The Leaf Spring Bow and Explosive Arrows are inspired by Episode III (even though the latter originally functioned like the Piercing Arrows).
- The Pistol and Assault/Battle Rifle previously appeared as enemy-wielded weapons used in Episode XI.
- The Lightning Spear and Machine Gun were previously wielded by Jack in Episode XCII.
- The X-28 resembles a smaller version of the X-49.
- The jewel from Episode VI reappears as a collectible item in early levels. Here, it is identified as the "Desert Oasis Jewel" (though it is also a different shape from how it was previously seen).
- The Neptune Jewel from Episode XII reappears as a collectible item. Weirdly, it is identified as the "Jewel of Neptune" (which it was refered to at one point in that episode).
- The Crystal of Cagliostro from Episode XXXIII appears as a collectible item in later levels (despite having been previously eaten in that episode).
- The Beetle Drones reappear in their Season 5 designs, even in levels that took place before Season 5 (though the "Defeat your Demons" trophy/achievement depicts one in their original design)
- The Tick Droids from Episode V reappear.
- Following his cameo in Episode VIII, Huntor reappears as a recurring enemy type (one variant is colored similarly to either the alien tigers from Episode XCIII or the tiger men from Episode XCIX).
- The Robot Alligators from Episode XI reappear as recurring enemies.
- The Beetle Bot from Episode XXVII reappears.
- The Shinobi from Episode XL reappears.
- This game marks the first time in nearly 10 years since Jack has appeared in a video game and the first Samurai Jack game in 16 years.
- It is the third known Samurai Jack-titled game since The Amulet of Time and Shadows of Aku, and the second known home console game since Shadows of Aku.
- This game is built in Unreal Engine 4.
- This game is canon and has an alternative ending separate from the show's original finale.
- All of the original cast members are returning to voice the characters they portrayed in the show.
- The title screen art is a recreation of the final scene from the show with Jack alone under the cherry blossom tree.