Action games have been undergoing somewhat of a renaissance. Well, take an action game, mix in elements of some of the more visually distinctive titles from the past few years and add in Hong Kong cinema, complete with superhuman abilities. Taito’s latest action title, Bujingai, combines a number of conventions from all different sources to make one of the most visually distinctive games since Otogi and Shinobi. In actuality, Bujingai significantly builds upon these two, incorporating some of their best features to deliver a new post-apocalyptic game.
Set in the 23rd century, Bujingai is centered on an experiment gone horribly wrong. In an attempt to generate a new source of energy, 70% of the world’s population was immediately wiped from the face of the earth. The few surviving members discover new ways of producing energy from their bodies, which manages to give them superhuman abilities they call Skill. Developing these skills over 400 years, the survivors create new martial art forms and fighting styles. Unfortunately, a rift in space opens up, allowing demons to pour through the dimensional gate. One Skill master named Lau is dispatched to attempt to close the rift forever.
The first thing that stands out about Lau are the twin swords that he carries. Both large blades that he swings with incredible speed, Lau can unleash a number of damaging combos with these two weapons simply by hitting the attack button. While that sounds like the mechanic of a simplistic button masher, Bujingai alters this formula with a much more in-depth combat system. As Lau racks up hits, he can augment his combo with a spinning attack that literally turns him into a whirling top of razor sharp steel. He can also choose to cause damage with any number of spells and magical attacks, as well as acrobatic leaps and rolls to construct strings of attacks that eliminate any foes that come his way. The great part about the battle system is that it’s incredibly responsive and intuitive, so even novices can pick the game up and fire off 100+ hit combos.
While that takes out most of the minor enemies, demon bosses are much more skilled, blocking or parrying most of Lau’s attacks and countering with blows of their own. In fact, you won’t be able to land anything on these creatures without learning to counter their attacks, timing your hits exactly right and opening up a window in their formidable defense. These duels, which look like they’d be right at home in an action movie, are striking battles to see. Once defeated, bosses and minor foes will leave behind a number of items, such as blue orbs or coins, which can be used to increase your magic or health bars. While some of these items will be found within combat, still others will be found by breaking apart environmental objects. Reminiscent of Otogi, boxes, bamboo forests and signs, among other things, can and will need to be shattered to gain access to new areas. Lau will also be able to run up sheer surfaces, a la Shinobi. However, instead of falling off the wall, Lau can actually sprint up these walls indefinitely (or as high as the surface is). He can also “fly” for short distances, gliding across areas with a burst of aerial speed before landing on the ground.
Visually, Bujingai is incredibly distinctive, with plenty of flashy action and incredibly slick animations. With an amazingly smooth frame rate and eye catching attacks, the numerous attacks within the game seems like they’ve been ripped from a movie instead of a game. Combine that with a number of melodramatic vocal performances and hard wailing guitar rock, and you’ve got a game whose visual and aural flair are backed up with substantive combat mechanics. Bujingai should be flying and settling onto shelves soon, so check back here for a full review!
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