Review by Yeuh Fei Long
Reviewed: 01/10/04 | Updated: 03/21/04
Epitome of Wushu based action.
Taito and Red Entertainment summons the team that worked upon both Cowboy Bebop and Trigun, to bring forth an action game that puts many to shame with it's amazingly fluid and extremely fast paced Chinese-Taiji-fencing-swordplay, that's just a marvel to witness.
The protagonist, Lau, has quite the design, with red hair, some eye liner, donning some eccentric rags and wielding a Kuan Dao and Jian, makes him slightly quaint. What makes this character even more so, is that he's based off of Gackt, a Japanese Pop star who's slightly enigmatic when it comes to picking a different genre each week. Not being a J-pop fan, it wasn't exactly enthralling to play one, but can be overlooked in mere seconds when focusing on the combat and level of detail in just about everything, with the very small exception of some backgrounds and how they're shadowed. All backgrounds aren't that well rendered per se, but tend to capture some semi-gorgeous settings. A few even have minute detailing. Bujingai could of definitely benefited from pre-rends or extensive detailed interactive settings, however, I digress. The characters and special effects are what completely dominate in the graphical settings. They are absolutely beautiful. From the very fluid mechanics of combat to the magic abilities that are awe-inspiring are done with such a high level of detail that is truly appreciated.
It is up to Lau Wang Yu to stop his friend/rival Lei Shen-Long from destroying a satellite that happens to be the very life support for Earth. A bunch of action to satiate the players, and dramatic boss battle fights as well.
The music is fantastic, Oriental instrumentals with some electric and guitar based themes provide some wonderful battle tunes, or are otherwise a pleasure to listen to. The effects are wonderful, the magic sound effects couldn't possibly be more lucid, and equally of that is Gackt providing the name of the magic before or right as the magic animation ensues.
A great addition to any action gamer's library. Bujingai boasts numerous aspects that instill amazement in it's extremely fluid animations.
Aspect number one- Incessant combos.
Lau is able to perform some lengthy combos with his two swords-Ryugatoh and Tenreiken, especially when leveled up, as they gain more attack animations. Mashing of the square button accomplishes a long execution of sword techniques that pile up around twenty hits, perhaps more when both swords are leveled up all the way. During any point of the square combo, save for the finishing hit (obviously), you can subsequently chain those attacks with the triangle attack, which triggers a couple of hits before the default spinning tornado slash. After chaining the triangle attack, you can then execute the x button attack in which case performs a Wong-Kei Ying or Wong-Fei Hong-esque Shadow Kick. For the uninformed, or just not a fan of Hung Gar/Manchurian Monk/Folk Hero/Chinese History or Kung Fu movie buff, Lau will perform a small jump and follow suit of his opponent with these insane continuous jump kicks while in air at an angle. This attack racks up some mad amount of hits. One more attack string is the juggle. Initiating the combo with square, chaining with triangle, hit square again to juggle the enemy, hit x immediately after to take to the air and follow up with either square attacks or the triangle attack.
The problem here is that there aren't enough combos. Lau has two chaining variables, the triangle button and the X button, not to mention the cancel into a juggle. These are it folks, even though Red/Taito seemingly threw in consistent attacks, it's not enough to prevent the monotony that enslaves the combat halfway through the game.
Aspect number two-Gorgeous Magic
Magic can be found throughout the seven stages. These are very entertaining to behold to say in the least. Some provide some attribute enhancing properties, while the rest are purely offensive. Lau has the Shouryuken, very different then the SF counterpart. There's the Gouenken, a fireball, Senraken, a hurricane attack along with the Tensieken, a raining arrow attack, just to name a few. There are different levels of certain magic's to be found, which are needless to say, more powerful.
Aspect number three-Nice Counters
Lau has two counter attacks called the Kengeki counter-which is the combat counter, and the Youjutsu counter-projectile counter, the aesthetics behind them are very entertaining. Both are very easy to activate, Lau has to be facing the direction of the attack, from there you input your command counter. The Kengeki is activated once an opponent attacks Lau (Lau has to be locked on to the opponent), from there Lau blocks the attacks all on his own, until the crystals in the upper left hand corner run out. Pressing square starts the counter attack, a flurry of sword counters are executed at double the damage, or x evades the attack by jumping or by 720ing out of the way. The Youjutsu is activated once a projectile reaches Lau's position (have to be facing the projectile), from that point, assuming you have the magic to do so (the whole bar!), Lau builds up his power against the projectile by swinging his sword violently side-to-side warding off the projectile, hitting square to build up your magic resistance and then O at the right time sends the projectile back at the opponent who threw it, only it's even more devastating then it was before.
All this adds up to a slightly in-depth combat system that doesn't necessarily grow stale per se, with the number of options you have during the battles. Acrobatics are captured as well, Lau can dash in air, run up, across or jump off walls. He can evade by doing a 720 diagonal twist, a version of a butterfly but vertical, which is certainly acrobatic, along with some wire work choreographed fight scenes when countering some specific enemies. Barrel-rolling/butterfly in mid air while slashing in a circular motion only then to come back down into a stance while a gong sounded was definitely a sight to see. Watching the Kengeki counters really hit home in regard to Chinese choreographed fight scenes you'd see in numerous HK flicks.
In retrospect, a few problems. A handful of the faint backgrounds that have an unwanted glare on the pupils. More stages could of been enlisted into the mix. It was surprisingly short and linear, unfortunately, but good games aren't synonymous with a long play through. The levels are fairly big and have a decent length, just not long enough. Not enough attacks to keep the gameplay fresh and intricate. There's kind of a non-existing story as well, bits and pieces are seen throughout the game, but nothing is elaborated on whatsoever.
One could probably discern by playing the game that Red and Taito were keen on the whole replay value jazz in Bujingai. They integrated coins to seek for in the game that unlock a plethora of things, including, press release conferences, interviews, images, motion capture video, a new outfit for Lau, and upon beating the game, stage select and acquired magic and levels are maxed, ready to play through again.
Over All, Bujingai is a must buy for action/fighting game aficionados. Even more so for the HK-Wushu noir lover.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
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