Fight the Good Fight in Usagi Yojimbo: Way of the Ronin

Usagi Yojimbo, a solo ninja warrior who stars in his own comic book and is a sometimes-ally to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, makes his app game debut in Usagi Yojimbo: Way of the Ronin. The long-eared rabbit, who carries a katana blade, is on an epic quest that fuses beat-’em-up button taps with a role-playing plot. It’s packed with action, flashy moves and crispy clear graphics that will gain the approval of kids and adults. Find out why you should grab a sword and join Usagi on his noble journey after the jump.

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Get Going Down the Rabbit Trail

Usagi Yojimbo’s mission is to retrieve a mirror that is being held onto by priests. Somehow, obtaining this mirror will free the Old Ones, who are currently in a cave. Once they’re freed, they’re capable of ridding the world of evil, so what valiant hero wouldn’t take up arms to help out?

Start Usagi’s journey and follow this map through forests, mountains and various villages.

Start Usagi’s journey and follow this map through forests, mountains and various villages.

Usagi will engage in dialogue with the rogues he runs into. After waxing poetic grunt speak about how they plan to hurt the hero, battles ensue. Some opponents will simply be muscle, while others may carry a weapon or fire off arrows with their bows. Regardless, keep track of who’s on the screen and who has Usagi in their crosshairs, because once the rabbit’s life gauge is empty, that’s it for this hare.

The Bunny Battles Back

Of course a good offense can be a great defense against bad guys. The red and blue buttons on the bottom-right portion of the screen represent strong and not-as-strong attacks, respectively. Use them at their most simple to fend off the thugs trying to take Usagi down.

Get slicing against the variety of foes that are ready to rip Usagi Yojimbo apart.

Get slicing against the variety of foes that are ready to rip Usagi Yojimbo apart.

As Usagi progresses from one stage to the next, he’ll unlock attack combos that will make short work of his enemies. Make a note of the order of which red-blue-button combination will complete the fierce techniques.

For example, double tapping an attack button may get the long-eared hero to strike someone twice or perhaps cause him to jab his sword with more force to take out the enemies. One of the more fun power-ups earned is a technique that allows Usagi to jump and spin in the air, wielding his sword to thrash enemies standing on either side. That move is helpful during fierce fights where the odds aren’t in the ronin warrior’s favor.

Learn new attack combos as Usagi progresses through fierce battles.

Learn new attack combos as Usagi progresses through fierce battles.

Friends and Other Benefits

Since a two-player game isn’t an option, Usagi Yojimbo gives players the next best thing. Throughout the anthromorphic adventure, Usagi will meet up with allies, and it usually isn’t long before a gang of toughs follows. Like some role-playing online and video games, Usagi’s allies will join the fray, controlled by the app’s internal computer, and help him slice and dice his way to the next part of the stage. This is no small advantage, so let them get in a few hits or tackle tough guys that may be more difficult to conquer. Be warned: their help is only temporary and the cast of sidekicks changes throughout the game.

Don't worry, the rhino in the purple kimono is on Usagi’s side when the app helps out our hero.

Don’t worry, the rhino in the purple kimono is on Usagi’s side when the app helps out our hero.

Once an enemy has been exterminated, he’ll fall flat on his back, exhale a skull and crossbones, and may leave behind a goodie such as a coin or even a heart, which can revitalize Usagi’s health meter. Coins can purchase Health, Damage and Armor upgrades, each of which will improve how strong our hero becomes and improves how long he will hold up during the vicious battles that come his way.

Get chatty with friends and enemies.

Get chatty with friends and enemies.

Keep track of how much progress Usagi has made by giving the map a glance every now and then. Downward pointing arrows will indicate which stages have been completed and players can get an idea of the terrains they will battle in during future fights. During gameplay, what look like movie reels show up on the screen that ends each stage. These will rank players as to how well they have completed a level. They’ll also transition players into an educational session, where they will be schooled on a new ninja technique or weapon that they can use to Usagi’s advantage during battles. Pay special attention to these tips!

Grab the Rabbit by the Ears

Usagi Yojimbo: Way of the Ronin is a treat among iOS games. The graphics are impressive — characters are nicely drawn and have detailed facial expressions. It’s almost always easy to identify which creature they are a caricature of and it’s fun to have some underused members of the animal kingdom (walruses!) present and accounted for. The background scenery is also well done, be it the intricate design of the forest or the obvious thought put into the distinctive look of the rooms of home and buildings in village.

The action gets intense, so keep your hand close to your sword.

The action gets intense, so keep your hand close to your sword.

Gameplay is simple enough, but players bored with button mashing can use finessed techniques to add some style to their fighting. Usagi is also very responsive to the controls given to him, executing moves fluidly and efficiently during the violent confrontations.

Some of the conversations that take place between Usagi and his friends and enemies within the game can be too frequent and too long. Players who love a good story might enjoy the interludes, while those looking to beat up Noah’s Ark may get annoyed at the delay.

But overall, the intensity of the battles is challenging, as are the opponents. This is an app that will draw in and keep entertained the casual gaming fans as well as those who take the craft seriously.


Summary

Usagi Yojimbo fights on his noble quest to save the world from evil.

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