Samurai Champloo was first a manga and anime - and now Samurai Champloo Sidetracked fills in a missing piece of the storyline. It's an interactive, humorous adventure game.
You're up in the cold, northern world of Ezo back in the days of feudal Japan. Jin is the quiet, focussed one, while Mugen is the wild, reckless half. Both are fighters of high renown. With them is Fuu whose talent appears to be getting kidnapped to move the plotline along. Their comments are sometimes mature but usually quite funny.
The graphics are generally quite good - a mix of a feudal look, cel shaded smoothness but still with a bit of blockiness. They aren't as good as I've seen on a few other titles, but you into the feel of the atmosphere pretty quickly.
That's because this isn't a role playing game - it's a fighting game - and while you do have to do some wandering-and-finding, much of the game is about pulling out your sword and slicing people in half. This is where the game gets funky. You can choose different soundtracks for your characters. If you play a slow song, your character goes through gentle, solid moves, with blocks and sweeping blows. If you play a fast song, your character reacts - the combinations you get are far more furious and sharp. You can build your song collection as you go - meaning that as you face different enemies, you swap between songs to get the best attacks going to take advantage of your enemy's weaknesses.
Of course what actually happens is that you like some music and hate others, so you end up playing the music you enjoy the sound of - and then you get really good at those combos so they end up being your best moves. Which is of course a fascinating way to formulate a fighting game :)
I did find the loading screens to get a bit annoying. I also found the mini-games could have been REALLY cool if someone put a bit of work into them. For example the beetle contest - why not show us the 3 beetles? Give them names when we choose them? Let us see them in action? It wouldn't have taken much work to make it into a really funny game. I realize this is tongue in cheek, but it really could've been a fun mini-game with a small amount of work. Finally, it seems like there's a lot of running around.
Still, the humor and innovative fighting more than make up for any small problems with gameplay - and the story is quite an interesting one!
Buy Samurai Champloo Sidetracked from Amazon.com