Written by  :  Zovni (10666)
Written on  :  Jan 05, 2003
Platform  :  DOS

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Come grasshopper, Budokan awaits.

The Good

Sort of a predecessor of Bushido Blade (but without the emphasis on swords and samurai stuff), Budokan was the first game that I know of that tried to take a realistic approach to martial arts ass-kicking with no sho-ryu-kens, super-human moves and with realistically modeled moves and a real-life feel to things. The main gameplay feature of Budokan was that you had both a Stamina and a Ki bar, which was depleted by the moves and actions you made. Jump around and waste your moves and you'll be left a tired, vulnerable gaijin. Take your time and judge each attack and defense carefully and you'll mop the floor with each and every opponent that comes your way. Challenging? Yes, but excellent and much more engrossing than the average beat 'em up.

The graphics were particularly amazing for it's time, they weren't flat out spectacular, but somehow managed to capture the quiet beauty associated with martial arts and were truly pleasing, with beautiful backgrounds and fantastic animations.

The gameplay options were also quite interesting, you had an entire portion of the game based in your dojo, in which you trained and perfected all the moves you could master in each of the available weapons/techniques (either solo or against a computer opponent) and the "tournament" section in which you went against a variety of different opponents, each with some unique graphical look, for the grand title of Budokan (yeah, not to save some sister or the free world... can you believe that??!). This was the main attraction for the game, and challenged you to standard one-on-one fights which involved some strategic selections as well as fighting prowess (since you had a limited amount of times to use each technique).

Also available was a simple yet serviceable 2-player mode, which provided some additional though limited multiplayer fun.

The Bad

There were some nasty balance issues involved in the various techniques/weapons, for instance you are a demi-god when fighting on full Kendo get-up, yet you are pretty wimpy when brandishing nothing but Karate. I realize this is actually realistic, but if you are going to have a fighting game which mixes all these different techniques (name one tournament in the world which would allow these matches!) then you should at least balance them out.

Oh, and it totally defeats the purpose of the "serious" martial arts-sim when you start fighting shuriken-throwing Ninjas and katana-wielding Samurais in the Tournament! I know it's cool to start throwing "Jap stuff" at the game at your leisure, but there are limits... plus it's incredibly cheap gameplay-wise!!

The Bottom Line

Not your average fighting game. If there's one image that comes to my mind when I think of Budokan is of practicing my Bo moves on the quiet solitude of some far-off Japanese dojo. That's Budokan. A quieter, more thoughtful and realistic version of kicking ass. Different, innovative and cool. Extremely cool. Someone really needs to remake this game.