Based on a popular anime TV show, “Samurai Champloo: Sidetracked” is an action-adventure game for the PS2 that combines a feudal Japan setting with hip hop culture. Like the cartoon that inspired it, the game follows the adventures of Mugen and Jin, two unemployed swordsman who vow allegiance to Fuu, a young woman who managed to save them from execution.
Players can use either Jin or Mugen. Jin is a calm, calculating swordsman, while Mugen is short-tempered, brash and quick to fight. Defeating the game unlocks a third playable character, Worso, who is the leader of Ezo Island’s Tsurumaki clan. While players can’t use her as a playable character, Fuu plays a key role in the game, with her personal quest and lust for adventure serving to drive the plot.
When the game opens, Mugen, Jin and Fuu have been traveling for days, with Fuu intent on tracking down a mysterious samurai who smells of sunflowers. Desperate for food and a place to sleep, the three companions end up taking passage on a ship headed for the island of Ezo. The friends soon get separated and embark on separate storylines, with the ultimate goal of reuniting and getting off the island.
A basic button-masher, the game requires Mugen and Jin to travel throughout the island battling a variety of foes, including an evil witch and the nefarious Matsumae clan. During game play, Mugen moves quickly, jumps well and incorporates breakdancing moves into his sword combat. Jin utilizes rolling techniques instead of jumps and employs multiple sword stances depending on the opponent. For either character, pressing the “Square” button initiates a standard combo attack. Pressing “Triangle” branches off from the typical combo for a more varied attack. Small speaker-like symbols called Tension Marks may appear in the lower-left corner of the screen, indicating the character has extended his combo tree and may enter Hyper mode though successful combos. The game’s Dojo mode allows players to train and practice moves.
Throughout the game, Mugen and Jin will encounter weapon shops and record shops. Weapon shops offer sword upgrades for purchase or weapon repairs. Mugen and Jin may carry up to three swords at any time. At record shops, Mugen and Jin may purchase tracks that include different combo trees for fighting.
Mugen and Jin utilize combo attacks during battle, with each combo tree displaying the precise buttons to push. Certain red buttons will enable Hyper mode, which allows for faster assaults. Attacking at the same time as an opponent opens up the Counter mode, which reduces everything to slow motion and offers one of four counterattacks.