Budokan: The Martial Spirit

Moby ID: 588
DOS Specs
Buy on Genesis
$25.00 used on eBay
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Description official descriptions

Budokan is a martial arts game covering Karate (unarmed combat), Kendo (using a wooden sword), Nunchaku (using piercing chain weapons) and Bo (using a staff). The player has a realistic range of moves and must use them wisely, as Ki (life-force) is drained for every move made, whether successful or not, and both this and your stamina level must be kept high.

You can practice your skills alone, or spar against the instructors or your friends. Finally, when you feel you are ready, you can travel to the martial arts world championship tournament at Budokan.

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Credits (DOS version)

18 People

Additional Programming
Music / Sound
Art Director
Cover Photos
Associate Producer
Project Manager
Graphics / Artwork
Cover Artwork



Average score: 71% (based on 26 ratings)


Average score: 3.2 out of 5 (based on 69 ratings with 2 reviews)

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.

DOS · by Zovni (10504) · 2003

Way cool.

The Good
One of the best games for early computers (read: 286), Budokan was one of the most popular games in Israel around 1991 and 1992. Seems as though everyone has it, and finally there's a version of a game which is actually just as good as its Amiga counterpart.

Budokan has great graphics, excellent controls and decent sound, but what's really good about is the sense of realism it gives the player, which is definitely something considering how old it is. The movements were realistic, the controls were realistic and battles were spectacular. Everything in this game is simply great.

The Bad
It's a little slow, but it runs on modest hardware so no complaint what so ever.

The Bottom Line
An amazing and original game. I wish I could play it with the same sense of wonder again.

DOS · by Tomer Gabel (4536) · 2000


Hidden message

If you try to list the contents of BUDO.COM with the DOS command "TYPE", you will see a nicely formatted full screen message about software piracy.


If you wait long enough in front of the tournament building, you can see the Godzilla walking in the cityscape.

Cover Art

The samurai character for the cover art of some home computer versions was directly lifted from a Japanese propaganda poster that originally featured the axis powers and included a swastika. The original poster can be seen e.g. here.


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  • MobyGames ID: 588
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by IJan.

Amiga added by EboMike. Commodore 64 added by Quapil. Genesis added by RKL. Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum added by Kabushi. MSX added by Martin Smith. BlackBerry added by MAT.

Additional contributors: Havoc Crow, Patrick Bregger, Christian Werner.

Game added December 17, 1999. Last modified May 2, 2024.