Review by Frostmanblues
Needs a hair extension.
Them Kabuki people in Japanese plays are a funny lot; their wigs seem lethal even though I doubt they would ever slice someone's head off by accident. This game seems to have started a trend here and there, being that hair is one of the lethal weapons you will be using. Other videogame characters using said Kabuki style of fighting have been featured in games like Konami's The Simpsons Arcade game and Samurai Showdown, whether or not this game was what started the entire lethal hairy business is yet to be discussed.
Gameplay - 7
Although the weapons of choice are very short in range and weak, you will eventually get used to them, and you will receive upgrades after each defeated stage. One word of warning though, this game's difficulty is similar to that of NES' Batman, where the AI seems to go all out to get your digitized behind from the very start. The level design guarantees losing a chunk of your life points, and you will lose a life or two before you map out the tricky parts of the areas. All this can be avoided with precise jumping and Kabuki's ability to hang from some ledges, granting him some advantage of taking alternate routes over some difficult parts. Some enemies are not worth destroying if you can successfully avoid them, but that means you will lose the chance of getting more weapon points and health. One good thing is that at the end of every section of the stage, your life is replenished as well as your inventory, so you can start fresh every time you advance through the game. The bad thing is if you lose a life (which happens often here), you will go through the pain of repeating the stage from the very beginning, practice and patience makes perfect here.
Story - 7
In the year 2056, the world is threatened by an unknown entity that hacked into the nuclear weapons program. Colonel Scott O'Connor volunteers to access a mission inside the virtual world to stop said threat by using an untested program. As dangerous as it may be, he is the only hope to save the country from nuclear annihilation.
Graphics/Sound - 10
The level design is quite something here. Since the entire thing is based on a virtual world, you will find oddities in every stage such as live hearts embedded on walls, frogmen with swords, gargoyles spouting water that pushes you to spiked-filled floors and the like. This reminds me a lot of the NES game version of Batman, even if both games were designed by completely different companies, and they shared such unique features in said designs. The music is quite catchy and addictive, adding mystery and playability as you try to avoid some tricky areas of the game. Baddies make squishy sounds but it doesn't interfere much; I am happy that Kabuki himself just makes a deadpan noise than some garbled sound effect when hit.
Play Time/Replayability - 7
It is very difficult and very addictive at the same time, most likely, you will spend hours trying to get past that tight spot in latter stages, or find yourself being beaten on the same stage all over again. Two continues is never enough to get through all those irritating spots and enemies who cry out for your digital blood. You will put on that red wig again and lash out at them any other time however.
Final Recommendation 7
Kabuki is one of those little treasures that are a gem to enjoy and play, but are as tough as nails and at times infuriating, like Werewolf, Batman, and any other platformer that made it harder for the gamer to chant victory thinking he could beat it in one setting. These types of games are what the 8-bit generation was all about: unforgiving gameplay and difficulty. Even so, Kabuki was not as difficult in some instances, and you got your health at maximum, thing that most games didn't bother to do between sections of the same stage. That is a nice bonus in my opinion, a good game to your NES collection.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
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