Game Reviews

Usagi Yojimbo: Way of the Ronin

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Usagi Yojimbo: Way of the Ronin

Personally, I've got nothing against evil-fighting rabbits.

I'm a massive fan of side-scrolling beat-'em-ups, too.

I used to rather enjoy watching the exploits of Bucky O'Hare when I was a youngster, and I felt pangs of sadness when it was cancelled after just one incredible series.

I also spent many of my formative days playing Double Dragon II and III on the NES at home, as well as Streets of Rage and Final Fight around the homes of friends.

So, don't think for a second that the following critical annihilation of Usagi Yojimbo: Way of the Ronin on iOS has been penned by a person with a deep aversion to brawlers or a lack of love for leporids.

Nope, this game's just plain awful.

Fan disservice

In Usagi Yojimbo: Way of the Ronin, you take on the role of an anthropomorphised rabbit during an era in Japan's history where there are samurai kicking about. In terms of gameplay, think Golden Axe, not Altered Beast.

If you're a fan of the ongoing Usagi Yojimbo comics, you'll probably know what era we're talking about here. The story at the heart of this game, though, is so paper thin and unmemorable that I am struggling to remember any more of the specifics. There are samurai, there are animals. Some of them are good, some of them are not.

The presentation here is poor, though it's not the weakest element by a long stretch. The world and characters within the Usagi Yojimbo: Way of the Ronin universe are of the quality you might find at a 48-hour game jam for industry veterans, i.e. clearly done by professionals, but definitely a rush job.

Take a peek at the gallery above for examples of effects obscuring text, and occasions where the developer has decided to repeat the 'standing' animation state for the 'dying on the floor' state.

Drums, pipes, and pretty much whatever else you'd expect to hear in a game about samurai assault your ears on a regular basis. There's just no inventiveness in the audio design whatsoever. The music loops far too often, and don't even get me started on the musical effects.


Put simply, when there are games in the genre over two decades old that play better than this, you know there's something wrong.

The combat isn't a patch on Captain Commando's or Turtles in Time's. Hell, it isn't even as good as River City Ransom's. You move about the screen, bashing two virtual buttons until the bad guys are gone. There are combos to unlock, but you'll never need to use them. That's because you can just spam light attack throughout the game and be just as effective.

Oh, I forgot. There's a single section in which you have to fire a bow and arrow to knock a boss out of a tree. It took me ten minutes of struggling with the imprecise firing controls to do this.

The one attack that is slightly interesting is a spin slash move. It doesn't hurt enemies, but instead puts distance between you and them. That's cool - more fighting games should have that. But you won't need it here as the difficulty's a joke. I mean, the game's 45 minutes long, and I only died once.

Enemies are underpowered, and the AI is moronic enough to walk straight into your attacks repeatedly until they die... while you're standing still.

I could list another bucketload of complaints, but I won't bother, as I think you've got the point. Don't buy this trash, no matter how much you like badass brawlers and bunny rabbits.

Usagi Yojimbo: Way of the Ronin

There are games you played 20 years ago that are still miles better than this utterly vapid licensed cash-in. It's almost insulting to discover how poor this is
Peter Willington
Peter Willington
Die hard Suda 51 fan and professed Cherry Coke addict, freelancer Peter Willington was initially set for a career in showbiz, training for half a decade to walk the boards. Realising that there's no money in acting, he decided instead to make his fortune in writing about video games. Peter never learns from his mistakes.