TGS 2001 Fall: Hands-onKabuki Warriors

Lightweight's latest fighter was playable at TGS.

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Think of Kabuki Warriors as Kengo Lite--it misses some of the more precision-based elements of Lightweight's other fighter, and it focuses on arcade-style mashfests, with a few herrings throw in to mix things up. It's based on the kabuki form of Japanese theater, which is popularly known for its elaborate costume design. You will take the role of various armed performers in their quest to arrive at Edo in ancient Japan, all the while gaining new members in their traveling troupes.

During each match, the audience will shower you with money for performing impressive moves, which you will use to fund your travels. Traveling to each stop on the tours will cost you a certain amount of money, which is acquired battling onstage. Further, all the characters have a "performance" move that, when performed, both tips the audience's graces in their favor and increases the flow at which they'll shower you with yen. Your popularity is measured by a meter on the bottom of the screen--a communal supermeter, if you will--through which you and your opponent will enjoy an extended tug-of-war. Once it's sufficiently in your favor, you'll be able to execute a super.

The fighting system is extremely simple--you can block, slash, and activate performance moves. You can also enact supers once your meter is sufficiently filled. Combos that are several hits long are possible, and they're strung together by repeatedly entering slash commands, which you'll sometimes combine with directional presses. You can also dash at your opponent and jump very, very high.

The performance moves make the game's pacing a bit strange. Often, both players will stand at opposite ends of the screen, doing their dances and such, to curry the crowd's favor. These in effect become wars of attrition, wherein you'll hold out just as long as you think your opponent will. Dance too long, of course, and you'll likely not recover when your opponent comes charging. Strangely, if you're slashed while dancing, you'll simply continue.

Some of the game's costumes look amazingly elaborate, while other characters' designs look frightfully simple. The bright-haired warrior in the flowing fineries is especially impressively modeled. Overall, though, the game's presentation looks a little barren, though some of its elements--like the world map--are particularly elegant.

Whether or not Kabuki Warriors' quirky, yet toned-down fighting system will capture the interest of fighting fans is yet to be determined. We will know soon, though, as the game is slated to release alongside the Xbox in the US. Look for a review soon.

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