Interview

Afro Samurai Interview (Xbox360)

Afro Samurai is finally receiving its first video game adaptation and StrategyInformer had a chance to interview Senior Producer David Robinson from Surge on the project itself. Read on to find out what to expect when the game ships for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 later this month.

Strategy Informer: To begin with a little introduction, whatís your name and responsibilities in relation to the Afro Samurai video game?

David Robinson: My name is David Robinson and Iím the Senior Producer for Afro Samurai.


Afro Samurai is going to be quite gory.
Style is one thing that Afro Samurai has going for him.

Strategy Informer: For gamers that are uninitiated to the Afro Samurai series, could you go in to detail about the story and central characters to the game?

David Robinson: Afro is a small part of a story thatís more than a thousand years long. It all revolves around the history of the two sacred headbands. The legend says that for thousands of years these two headbands have been sought after for their power. If a great fighter has the Number #1 headband he becomes a god, but only the owner of the Number #2 headband can challenge the Number #1. The Number #2 headband owner is the second best fighter in the world and anyone can challenge him to a fight to the death. Afro crosses paths with the legend when his father, the Number #1 fighter, is killed by a powerful fighter named Justice. He defeats Afroís father in a bloody dual at the top of a great mountain. After the fight he challenges Afro, who was around 5 years old and clutching his fathers severed head, to a dual when he gets old enough. Afro does just that, devoting his life to find his fatherís killer and appropriately enough, Justice.

Strategy Informer: What connections will the game have to the anime series?

David Robinson: The game follows the series on parallel paths. We allow players to go through all the major memories that Afro has, but we also allow them to visit areas that the series didnít have time to include.

Strategy Informer: How was working with Samuel L. Jackson as the voice of the title character?

David Robinson: It was awesome. Heís a real superstar but one that doesnít let it all get to his head. Heís like your uncle who can say anything crazy and your parents just shake their head in disbelief. Heís a fun cat indeed.

Sam was perfect for this role and our head writer and design director Paul Gardner wrote an amazing script which Sam loved. It was pretty awesome to see a professional at work. He really brings the character of Ninja-Ninja to life.

Strategy Informer: Will any of the other all-star cast of actors be lending their voices to the video game?

David Robinson: Absolutely, we got very lucky in that all the voice actors in the original series are in the game. It was really cool working with them as well.


Samuel L. Jackson lends his voice to the main character.
Many of the series regulars show up.

Strategy Informer: Could you explain the gameplay mechanics of Afro Samurai?

David Robinson: There are over a 100+ moves in the game, all of which really highlight how powerful a character Afro is. The Cutting System and Focus Mode are two of our crowd pleasers. Both are unique to Afro, but along with those he can do almost anything: wall run, jump, kick-combos, launch enemies into the air and perform complex cool combos to tear them apart. We really wanted the first five minutes to represent what the entire game could be, a roller-coaster of flying arms, legs, foreheads and pinky fingers.

Strategy Informer: Are there any concerns about the amount of blood that is shown on the screen and Afro Samuraiís chances of being banned in a few regions such as Germany?

David Robinson: Yes, of course. We all had issues with the blood at first, but itís such a huge part of the character, a part of the paint-brush that colors the world of Afro. The blood is less a biological function, than an artistic flourish that accents the movement of the characters as they dance.

In the end the game is really a big-kids game. Afroís rating is ďMĒ for mature. That says it all.

Strategy Informer: Having acquired the license back in 2005, when did development on Afro Samurai first begin? Has the development of the title been through a rigorous cycle of redesigns?

David Robinson: You have no idea how many times we started and restarted, but most of that was related to finding our core, the things that make Afro resonate today. Developing is a very hard thing, and there were a lot of gravitational pushes that got Afro to where it is today. It was like forging a sword, polishing, reheating, fights, black-eyes and name-calling.

Strategy Informer: What was the reasoning behind the delay from last fall to an early 2009 release date?

David Robinson: Everything took a little longer than we expected. We had a lot of tech that seemed to work on paper, but once we got it into the air we realized we should do a little more thinking, polishing and bug fixing to get it right. Typical dev stuff, nothing sinister.

Strategy Informer: Why wasnít there any consideration for a Nintendo Wii iteration of the title?

David Robinson: The game was simply too big in tech and scope.

Strategy Informer: Will Afro Samurai be utilizing the PlayStation Network or Xbox Live for any download content?

David Robinson: Absolutely, but thatís a secret that even my boss doesnít know about yet. We really want to jump the paper borders and try some very unique ways to offer players more options through online.

Strategy Informer: Can gamers expect a demo on either the PSN or Xbox Live to get their hands on the game early?

David Robinson: Unfortunately an early demo will not be available.


He doesnít take no for an answer.
The graphics are stylish and highly unique.

Strategy Informer: As the first title under the Surge publishing label, how important is Afro Samurai to Surge?

David Robinson: It's definitely important as we want to create games for a more sophisticated western audience that want in-depth storylines and intense action.

Strategy Informer: Lastly, are there any foreseeable plans for a sequel of the title in the future?

David Robinson: We currently donít have anything planned, but itís something thatís definitely worth exploring.

Afro Samurai releases January 27th in North America. Check back later this month for our full review of Surgeís stylish action game.

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Comments

By Masterspeed (SI Newbie) on Feb 27, 2009
Masterspeed
ive rented the game...i thought it was pretty damn cool and i might check out the anime because i never heard of it until the game came out and DAMN samual l jackson is pretty good at video game voice acting...and heres me thinking most actors couldnt do it lol but who else can you get a actor to make any movie game or anime damn awsome...SAMUAL L JACKSON THATS WHO!