For the first time in more than 25 years, Stan Sakai’s top-knotted samurai bunny is the star of a videogame; HappyGiant has released a side-scrolling 2D hack-and-slash game illustrated in Sakai’s distinctive art style. The game is currently available for iPhone and iPad, coming soon to desktop, and is currently under consideration for addition to the Steam gaming site.
Concurrent with the release of the new game, Dark Horse has announced the release of the newest Usagi collection, Usagi Yojimbo: A Town Called Hell on July 17. Sakai put his comic on hiatus for a year to work on the five-issue miniseries 47 Ronin, the third issue of which was recently released. He is now back to work on Usagi and the regular schedule will resume soon.
Usagi Yojimbo, which Stan Sakai began in 1987, tells the story of a Ronin (masterless samurai), an anthropomorphic rabbit, who is on a warrior’s pilgrimage. In each story arc, Miyamoto Usagi (Usagi means “rabbit,” and the character is largely inspired by legendary swordsman Miyamoto Musashi) wanders into a different town, occasionally selling his services as a bodyguard, and encounters enemies both new and old. The series is heavily influenced by Japanese cinema, particularly the work of famed director Akira Kurosawa, and each issue is meticulously researched; details about the traditions, dress, architecture and technology of feudal Japan are extremely accurate. The character is perhaps best known for his recurring guest appearances on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated cartoon series.
“It’s been far too long since the last Usagi game, and I am so excited to be working with HappyGiant to bring Usagi and his friends back to these new platforms,” said Stan Sakai, “The game turned out great!” The last Usagi game, Samurai Warrior: The Battles of Usagi Yojimbo, was released in 1988 for the Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC platforms, by the now-defunct label Firebird.
Fans of Usagi Yojimbo are encouraged to drop by Steam’s Greenlight section and upvote the game.