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Joystiq visits: The Afro Samurai launch party in Los Angeles

Kevin Kelly

Namco Bandai, er ... we mean Surge rented out the Geisha House in Hollywood last night in order to throw a party for the launch of Afro Samurai, and Joystiq tagged along to check things out. The best thing about the night? Plenty of stations to play the game on both PS3s and Xbox 360s. Sadly, the sound was so loud in the place that you couldn't hear the hacking and slashing from the samurai with the gigantic hairdo.

Also puzzling was the fact that Samuel L. Jackson was listed as a co-host of this party and was a no show. That was a real surprise, since he provides both the voices of Afro Samurai and his sidekick Ninja Ninja and is a co-producer of the series. Either he didn't show at all, or he really does have ninja-esque skills and we just missed him. Update: he actually did show up, we just missed him. Plus he was dressed for freezing weather.

Check out the gallery below, and highlights after the break including a video performance by an afro-bedecked The RZA, who provides music both on the show and in the game.

Gallery: Afro Samurai Launch in Los Angeles | 25 Photos

The Geisha House is normally a nightclub / restaurant in the "going out" part of Hollywood, although last night all of the tables and chairs were cleared out to make room for gaming stations with massive screens. While they were serving up fare like miniature chili dogs and sushi, and drinks like "Samurai Hard Lemonade" and "Afro Crush" (is it a rule that game launches are required to have wacky cocktails named after the game?), we ran right for one of the setups and grabbed a controller. Is it a sign of pure geek when you bypass free food and drinks and head straight for a video game? Wait ... don't answer that, we already know. Don't add to our gaming shame.

So yes, the best part of the evening was playing the game and learning how to use Afro's "Focus" mode (pull the left trigger, that's easy) in order to eviscerate and dismember your enemies. There's just something both creepy and satisfying about chopping off the top of someone's head and revealing their brainpan. It was tough to master his wallrun and jump mode, especially when we've been used to making Faith do the same with slightly different controls, but we eventually got the hang of it.

One thing is for sure: the game sure looks gorgeous. They've done the cel-shaded cartoon style justice, and at times it looks like you're watching a 3D version of the show. As far as the audio goes, we have no clue because it was drowned out by the sounds of the DJ. We know The RZA provides music in the game, but he was also on hand with a band and backup singers complete with giant 'fros to rock in the game. Check out the video below (warning: contains language) from our dinky partycam.

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