Warning: This review contains useless thoughts and phrases. It also contains numerous segments not even relating to the game being reviewed. You may completely lose interest or fall asleep in that bowl of Frosted Flakes right in front of you if continue reading. You have been warned.
I've had a really bad week. Not that you really care, but I figured I'd toss that in there to keep things in perspective. Anyway, during this bad week, I happened to come across "Kabuki Warriors" for that big black and green box that's sitting under my Dreamcast at home. At a price point of a mere $9.99, how could I go wrong?
My mind however began working just as I asked the Meijer clerk to open the big glass case that protected thousands of dollars worth of merchandise. "Hey, idiot! Don't you remember all of those terrible reviews that XBN, Game Pro, EGM, and OXBM featured inside their money hungry corporate magazines about this game?" I responded quickly and sharply "Yeah, but that's THEIR opinion. I'm choosing to make my own! Idiot." The Meijer clerk, standing there with her stunned look could only respond with "Uh, you want this one...right?" I nod my head, realizing that I just said that out loud.
So, to make a long story somewhat shorter than it could be, I plunked down my $10.61 (after tax of course) and waddled on home. I carefully removed the shrink-wrap and those infinitely annoying "security stickers" that ruined half of the DVD's in my collection. My week almost instantaneously got better. Regardless of every other review you've read, this game is not that bad. In fact, given a few minutes of your time, it's pretty enjoyable. See, once you've removed the shrink-wrap and the annoying sticker from your copy (assuming you've bought your copy new of course...otherwise you'll have fight through those even more infinitely annoying Electronic Boutique used stickers) you'll enter the world of the Kabuki Warrior.
Your goal is not only to hack and slash your opponent, but also to entertain the audience. You begin with a generic Kabuki guy but as you begin beating down your adversaries, you can trade your generic Kabuki guy for a much newer model. Each, as usual, varies in their abilities ranging from speed to strength. You'll have 54 different cities to travel to and perform. The better you perform, the more money you earn. (I'm still trying to figure out how exactly these guys pick up this money when it's thrown at them during the heat of a battle. Do that in an NBA game and you get kicked out of the arena.) If you earn enough money, you can skip a few cities, but if you run out of money, it's all over.
You'll do battle with various weapons ranging from ugly sticks to katanas. Strangely, no matter what weapon you take into your battle, it still manages to draw the same amount of blood. Lot's of blood. It even has artery sprays, possibly a tip o' the hat to Samurai Shodown. There's a bunch of polygon clipping on the characters, but their mostly well put together with some of the Xbox's more impressive graphical effects tossed into the fray for good measure. The only major issue are the lack of decent backgrounds. Almost all of them are the same, only varying in the painting used to depict the town your in. Basically, this is kind of like real low budget Broadway. Which brings me to another question.... Why do these guys bleed like this if it's supposed to be a show???
Every review I've read (and I've read a lot of 'em) gripe about the one attack button. Yeah, yeah, only having one attack button is pretty weak. However, the attacks vary depending on which direction your pressing on the D-pad. They also vary depending on whether you're jumping or running. Blocking and jumping are done through button presses, something I've never been very keen on, but it works here. You have to also remember that special moves are available once the crowd is on your side completely (you'll know thanks to a conveniently placed bar on the bottom of the screen) with only a press of a button. Taunting also plays a major role, not only with the crowd, but financially as well. You'll need to time these precisely however as your completely vulnerable to an attack when doing these. It's kind of funny to taunt and then let the opponent hack away at you, spewing blood all over the place as you continue to dance.
As an added bonus, if you can find a friend willing to play along, you can actually challenge them in the main game. In fact, if you can find 3 friends, they can all play along. It's a mad dash to the final city to take on the best Kabuki's Japan has to offer. It's kind of like the Kabuki version of Monopoly. Unfortunately, this is about all the game has to offer. There are no unlockables, no secret characters, stages, or anything like that.
Would I have had a better week if I paid $50 for this game? No. My week would've gotten a lot worse as a matter of fact. At $10, you can't go wrong though. Even $20 wouldn't be that bad. There's a highly strategic 2-D fighting (only the characters are 3-D) game here that only has a few minor quirks that keep it from sheer greatness. The again, if your still with me here after this overly long, exhausting review, thank you. For those of you who gave up, you'll never know what you're missing.