Review by sempaidan

"Even in a video game, Gackt has style!"

Bujingai is one of those stylized action games that has become oh so very popular in recent years. The 3D battlefield where melees get crazy, enemies come from all over and every move you make is some kind of flashy action hero stuff. The main reason I played this game to begin with is that the game's main character is portrayed by the popular Japanese rock singer, Gackt.

I was surprised to see this game released in the U.S. because the singer has only a small and loyal following, but as they did with Way Of The Samurai, BAM! Entertainment has brought another obscure title into the hands of american gamers. Even during the intro movie (which is a reply of a battle in which the player participates beforehand) has a Gackt logo splashed across the screen. The main character, Lau, really does look just like him.

The game's visuals really do scream Gackt, from the colorful character designs to the endless special effects. If nothing else, Bujingai is a treat for the eyes. The true virtue of the game rests not in the stunning visual effects, but in its overall style. Every move Lau makes is acrobatic somehow. Even when slashing his two giant swords he spins and moves with energy waves following the blades at all times. A limited number of very flashy combos can be executed as waves upon waves of enemies attack the hero. While your combat abilities are rather limited in normal combat, boss battles are very dynamic. Some bosses force you to absorb and counter their magic attacks while others engage you in a back-and-forth volley of evasions, combos and counter attacks. These battles get pretty crazy and it becomes difficult to tell just what's going on. I personally wind up hitting the evade and attack buttons in random order because I'm not sure who just countered or who just did a counter to the counter... you get the idea. Even with the defense, evasion and counterattack system in place the battle system still comes up a little short of being as deep as it makes itself out to be.

The game's flash is it's main selling point and after each of the sequential levels you get an evaluation for several factors, incuding how much style you wasted the enemies with. You are rewarded with more orbs which can be used to upgrade everything from Lau's health to his defense guage. These orbs are also placed all around the level and collected from enemies, so you will be collecting them in the thousands. Furthermore, Lau can do just about anything... wall running, triangle jumps, gliding through the air and hanging on ledges.

The game's major failings are the repetitive nature of the sequential levels; many times you must climb towers and explore forests. It is easy to get lost because many of the routes are identical. While there are many hidden passages it is sometimes difficult to tell which direction you came from and which you are going in. On top of that, the game's learning curve is very steep. If you aren't very familiar with the complicated platforming system of jumping, hanging, bouncing and such you'll be stuck for long periods of time trying to get an item that has been placed in a very stupid spot. Also, if you haven't mastered the battle system it will be nearly impossible to defeat the bosses without continuing several times.

In closing, I can say that while Bujingai is a fun game I don't think it's the type that you'd want to invest in. It's a good game to rent and play, but I wouldn't pay full price for it. Other than the appearance of Gackt and some flashy moves it doesn't really bring anything particularly unique or special to the world of action games.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 08/30/04

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