Review by tolonius
I enjoy the, err..., rarer and more unique NES games. So when I saw Kabuki in a specialty shop I figured I'd give it a go. Well, this game has given me some good times and some evil times. So should you invest your time in this game? Let's find out.
An evil virus like being has taken over the world's defense systems and all of its computers. This gives it total control of all the world's nuclear weapons, and guess what? The viral being is going to destroy the earth with these weapons. Looks like nuclear winter is imminent for the inhabitants of Earth, but that's where you come in. You are a beefed up Colonel, who must use untested equipment to transport yourself into the mainframe and seek out the virus to save the world. You then become the strange robed samurai guy who kills with his hair. In case your wondering, I believe that the reason that the Col. appears this way in the game is because this is how he perceives himself in the computer world. An original plot, but not very credible or electrifying.
The music in the levels is awesome, at least by NES standards. Each level has its own theme and they are not only catchy, but they don't become annoying after 30 seconds. The music adds to the gaming experience and help to set the mood of each level. I have only two beefs with the music; both the boss fights and beginning/cut scene music are terrible. These tunes cast a dark shadow over the Kabuki soundtrack. The sound effects are also decent, and many are cool. The sound when you kill an enemy with your hair is really neat, though not what you'd expect to hear (what does hair killing something sound like?). Most of the sound effects have the desired effect - except the bosses. These are strange ''bloop'' sounds, I don't know what they're supposed to be. Nice job overall, though.
Sound FX: 6
The graphics are not the best, though they are not horrible. Your character and the bosses are OK, but some of the enemies need work. The cut scenes aren't too impressive either. The backgrounds are actually really cool and they don't take too much away from the game play, in fact they add to them. The terrain and some enemies are hard to distinguish, and may get the occasional cheap shot in. The colors are what really bugged me, especially the sky blue. In a game with dark earthy overtones and feel, the sky blue was a kick in the mouth. Why on Earth would the programmers ruin this nice dark, underground setting with something commonly associated with daylight? Maybe they ran out of colors.
This is the area where the game's uniqueness really shines through. Aside from the Colonel's killer headbanging, other features leap out. For one, you get a gun that upgrades to include different features as you progress. When you first get it it's practically useless, but as the game wears on it may become your best friend. There are two problems with the gun. The first is that you are limited in your use of it to how many energy bars you have, as each shot with the gun takes up a different amount of energy (depending on the mode you have it in). The mode system also needs work. You can only scroll through the different mode options one at a time with the select button, which can be terrible if you need a certain weapon fast. Your character has a fine range of movement and control, and his only problem is his reaction time and agility can seem a bit slower than his enemies' sometimes. This is really evident against the bosses. If you can't tell already, the bosses are the low point on this game to me. They are more agile and powerful than you, and they can be annoying. I do think this game has an interesting feature in the time limits it gives for each level. They won't rush you too terribly, but you won't loiter that much either. You only have so much life, and anything that hurts you will steal a life square and you need those! Energy squares and life hearts are far and few between, but the game makes up for it. Whenever you finish the level, the game will boost your energy and life relative to how much you had when you finished. Basically, it will double your totals. I thought that was pretty cool. Other than that, it's pretty basic.
The game, with all its oddities, grows a bit old after beating it the first time. Since I've beat my copy it's hard for me to trudge on past the third level. I enjoy the game, but it loses that special something after long tiresome play. Still, if you want to play something right quick this may be your game.
I enjoy playing this game, even though its not the greatest on the planet. Even better you can get it real cheap from a game place here on the Internet relatively easily, as I got my copy for only $2.99. I have no idea how much it may cost you, but it can't be much more. This is an excellent buy and if you can get it I would suggest that you do so. Oh, just in case you're wondering, Kabuki is a form of Japanese play acting with elaborate costumes and masks.
Final Score: 6
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 06/05/01, Updated 06/05/01
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