Retro Game of the Day! Kabuki Quantum Fighter
Kabuki Quantum Fighter (yeah, there's a mouthful for you) by HAL (developed by Human) fpr NES, released 1991 in the States. Get zapped into the computer Tron-style and go kick it with.. your hairdo!
Certainly a rather unusual premise, the catch here was that once you entered cyberspace, your player-character took on the form of his ancestors, who were Kabuki (ancient Japanese performers). The gimmick here is that you use your long hair as a weapon to attack foes - I don't think that was taken from Kabuki lore, but then I am no expert on these things...
The game received incredible reviews in the media upon its release, and so I was very excited to pick this up. Unfortunately, what played out was just another average NES experience. Seeing as how I was fairly spoiled by the likes of Ninja Gaiden and Batman, which Kabuki would ultimately be compared to, this title seemed a letdown in several areas - graphics, memorable gameplay elements, technique, characters, and so forth. There were some decent chiptunes playing in the background, and the main character had some nicely-animated moves (inconsistently). Overall the notion of getting beamed into a supercomputer was rather lost in what turned out to be another substandard demon-infested hell, yawn...
This is not to say that Kabuki belongs on the"Crappy Nintendo Games" list, of course. The game was worth a playthrough in its day, and it was still a fun quest that kept the player pushing to see what was next. Nothing terribly exciting ever surfaced, but overall the experience was rather smooth and fairly palatable. Perhaps if I had rented this instead of shelling out 50 clams I wouldn't be so bitter!
The game's most memorable moments included some fairly well-designed puzzle-like areas, where you had to carefully plan your jumps, falls, and grabs - and make good use of your secondary attack systems. It never got to a point of frustration as in, say, a similar segment in a Mega Man game, but it was a nice and thoughtful break from the normal run-of-the-mill action and otherwise conventional level design going on with the rest of the game.
Overall, I will give Kabuki a half-hearted recommendation, if only for its clean presentation matched with the fairly groovy theme and some nice 8-Bit melodies. It feels like a very "Japanesey" 8-Bit game and I will always have a soft spot in my heart for those titles which did make it out over here without severe localization! If you're a wimpy player who has a hard time getting halfway through Ninja Gaiden or the like, then maybe this title will be easier on you. Otherwise, spend your retrogaming time elsewhere, 'cause Kabuki was just a great opportunity wasted on a rather bland platformer.