Kasumi Ninja

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Kasumi Ninja
Kasumi Ninja
Cover art
Developer(s) Hand Made Software
Publisher(s) Atari Games
Designer(s) Hank Cappa
Jim Gregory
Joe Sousa
Ted Tahquechi
Sam Tramiel
Composer(s) Stephen Lord
Platform(s) Atari Jaguar
Release date(s)
Genre(s) Fighting
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

Kasumi Ninja is a 1994 fighting game developed by Hand Made Software[1] and published by Atari Corporation for the Atari Jaguar. It is one of a few fighting games released for the Jaguar home console system (other games being Ultra Vortek, Primal Rage, and Fight for Life) that unsuccessfully sought to capitalize on the trend of ultra violent fighting games started by Midway's Mortal Kombat.

Gameplay[edit]

Kasumi Ninja features a three-dimensional battlegrounds using parallax scrolling technology. The game's control system feature punch, kick, and special move buttons. The two player versus mode requires the use of a code for players to choose the same character.

The game was given a "Mature" (17+) rating by the Entertainment Software Rating Board for its graphic violence and gore. Kasumi Ninja was one of the first video games to allow parents to censor the level of violence allowed in the game by using a six digit password. When the parental lock is enabled, a code is needed to select the "Gore Fest" gore level. The possible gore levels are: None (no blood), Combat (small amount of blood, but none from swords), Disturbing (more blood than Combat, and blood dripping from the swords), and Gore Fest (the only mode with death moves, the most blood, and it has to be unlocked with a parental lockout code).

Plot[edit]

In single mode, the player is initially only able to choose between two characters (Habaki and Senzo). Other characters are unlocked progressively at the successful completion of each stage. The game is named after the setting, a mystical island called Kasumi Island. The objective of the game was to kill the game's boss, Gyaku, in his true form: a demon. Only by killing Demon Gyaku can the player reach the best ending.

Characters[edit]

  • Habaki and Senzo: Habaki is the eldest son (by ten minutes) of the Kiri-ga-kure family. At an early age the twin brothers were left in the care of the monks at the Dragon Cloud Temple. The two brothers were equally adept at the arts, both spiritually and physically. The Elders, noticing the great skill of the twins, offered them a chance to advance their arts by training as disciples under one of the Elders. Habaki was chosen by Kaioh and Senzo was chosen by Hiei. There have also been rumors of Gyaku taking a disciple, but no one has ever seen his student. During tournaments held at the Dragon Cloud Temple, the twins always cause a special interest because of their fierce competitiveness. The final match always comes down to the two brothers and each have won an equal number of championships over the years. Carbon copies of one other, their only difference is their respective death move.
  • Chagi Nelson, five time world kickboxing champion, has never lost a professional bout. Even at the age of sixteen, Chagi KO'd his very first opponent in the first round. Chagi has trained all over the world, mixing different martial arts to develop a style all his own. Loud and obnoxious, Chagi has the ability to back up his big mouth with a dazzling display of speed and skill. Chagi currently owns a chain of successful kickboxing schools and convenience stores. He has also been seen in many popular action films such as: Under-seize; the Sci-Fi dance thriller the Lambadanator; and the most famous of his films, the Kickboxing Kidd Series I - XII. He can also be seen currently on TV's Trudger: Lodi Private Eye. Chagi's name is a reference to the Neri Chagi, a taekwondo move. One of his death moves was voted #9 on the "GamesMaster Gore Special - Top 10 Death Moves", where he grabs and hits his opponent with his knee, then kicks a hole through his opponent's body.[citation needed]
  • Pakawa is the chief of the Comanche fighting tribe, the Tu-Wee-Kah. For many years the Comanches lived in harmony with nature. When the colonists settled in, the Comanches welcomed them with open hearts. As time went on, the colonists grew greedy and started to forcefully take the land from the Comanches, with no respect for the Comanche life. Pakawa decided to train a group of elite warriors and called them the Tu-Wee-Kah. The Tu-Wee-Kah were the equivalent of the Green Berets of their time and they were the ones who were sent in first to stealthily assassinate the opposition and disable key positions, the rest of the tribe would then attack. Pakawa has been in many battles and he is proud of the many scalps that he has collected. Pakawa scalps his foes in a death move.
  • Thundra is the queen of a lost tribe of Amazon warriors. These warriors have taken a solemn oath to protect the rainforest from modern industrialists who wish to destroy it for their own profit. This is done by surgically sabotaging vital equipment and assassinating high ranking company officials. Thundra is their greatest warrior and as a result, she was appointed queen. She has trained her warriors in a fighting art handed down for generations. This art was taken directly from the forces of nature and those who have mastered this art can channel their inner power to imitate the fury of nature.
  • Alaric is the most ruthless of some of history's most feared and ferocious warriors, the Goths. The Goths were a nomadic tribe from Northern Europe who would travel the continent in search of battles to join so that they might pillage and kill, their two greatest joys! Not only was he a renowned fighter, he was also a skillful tactician, leading his tribe to certain victory time and time again. One of his greatest accomplishments was his imaginative use of gunpowder in many dangerous and unique ways. Alaric is loosely based on a real barbarian king also named Alaric who once sacked Rome. In the beta version, Alaric was named Eksel, & his outfit was a different color. This could be seen in a GameFan issue around the time of the game's launch.
  • Danja Ureda: by day she is an assistant DA fighting in court to lock up criminals and keep the streets safe. By night, she is a vigilante. Danja grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, but she studied hard in school and became an exceptional student. As a result, she was persecuted by her classmates and had to quickly learn the laws of the street to survive. When Danja graduated from high school she was quickly offered multiple scholarships for her academic and athletic abilities. She worked hard in college, and studied self-defence and exotic weapons to increase her street fighting skills. She earned straight A's and was accepted to Harvard Law School, where she specialized in criminal law. Graduating at the top of her class, she was offered many prestigious positions, but decided to take a job with the District Attorney in the inner city instead. She soon realized how corrupt the justice system really was and decided to use her street fighting skills to take the law into her own hands. Danja has mixed the martial arts she learned in college with her streetfighting tactics and her personal preference for a weapon, the bolas. These bolas have been modified to administer her brutal brand of justice, giving them a real bang for their buck. Danja's look has been described by game reviewers as "a prostitute wearing a catsuit", & noting her paltry moveset despite being a "street vigilante".
  • Angus MacGreggor is the blacksmith of his village Loch Katrine, as was his father, and his father's father before him. The constant pounding of hot iron has made Angus a burly man. Legend of Angus' strength quickly spread to the other clans of Scotland and as a result he was constantly challenged to tests of strength. These tests included wrestling, boxing, weight lifting, and the caber toss. Angus always won easily, and soon became obsessed with fighting. Any pub Angus visited encountered a severe lack of both furnishings and patrons. Angus soon ran out of those who would challenge him, causing him much anger. Now Angus has dedicated his life to finding a worthy opponent, one who might be able to give him the fight of his life. One of his death moves was voted #1 in the "GamesMaster Gore Special - Top 10 Death Moves", where he rapidly punches his opponent's head, decapitates him with a kick, and headbutts their head offscreen when it's airborne.[citation needed] Angus is most noted for the special move in which he shoots a fireball that inexplicably comes from underneath his kilt. Featuring him among the most bizarre fighting characters in 2008, GameDaily wrote that "nowhere else will you find an Scotsman that launches fireballs from beneath his kilt."[2]
  • Lord Gyaku is the final boss of Kasumi Ninja. One of the eldest ninjas, Gyaku went berserk and killed all of the other elders on Kasumi island and proclaimed himself Lord of Kasumi Island. It is said that Gyaku is possessed by spirits from the Demon World. With the Dragon Cloud Temple also in his possession, Gyaku is planning his overthrow of the Island. The Dragon Cloud Temple is said to have a portal to the Demon World, and with such awesome power, Gyaku plans to rule not only Kasumi Island, but the world. If the player does not use a death move on Lord Gyaku during the final battle in single player mode, Lord Gyaku will transform into "Demon Gyaku", a stronger version of Lord Gyaku that resembles a Red Frill Lizard Humanoid Demon. Defeating "Demon Gyaku" will reward the players with the "Best Ending." It is also possible to play as Gyaku with a secret code, whereupon he replaces Senzo and Habaki in the Versus Mode.

Development[edit]

Kasumi Ninja went through several changes before it was released to the public. It was previewed approximately eight months before its original release by Interactive Entertainment Magazine, a now Out-of-Print video game magazine that was distributed via CD only.

The early build of Kasumi Ninja that was featured in this preview had a very heavy story element to it. Players were represented by a guardian spirit of Kasumi Island and could only begin the game as Senzo or Habaki (who originally was represented by the charcoal-colored Gyaku character sprite). The spirit would take possession of either Senzo or Habaki and, during the main game's storyline, the characters would have to do battle with the other champions of Kasumi Island in order to free their spirits. This would enable them to do battle against the evil polluting Kasumi island. Beating the game with each character would produce a specific key which, when combined, would unlock the gates to the final confrontation with Lord Gyaku. This method of gameplay would have required the player to invest more time in order to complete the story mode. Players would have to navigate the labyrinth to find their opponents, and characters would be unlocked for play only as they were defeated by Senzo and Habaki. Players would subsequently have to play through each character and defeat all others as they became unlocked, as only certain character's keys could unlock other parts of the labyrinth, thereby finding more opponents to confront.

Many of the backgrounds and character designs went through several revisions. For example, Alaric was named "Eksel" and his default outfit had red trim, as opposed to blue. Habaki was garbed in black, but this was changed to represent Lord Gyaku. A fourth palette-swap ninja, garbed in blue, was seen in previews but apparently never made it to the final game. This blue ninja was thought to be either Gyaku's original outfit, or the 'unknown disciple' mentioned in Senzo and Habaki's character profile, possibly featured as a secret character yet to be discovered. The name "Tsuba" appears in the beta versions character selection room, but it is unknown if that was another characters "working name".

Other changes included Habaki/Gyaku's fatality. In early builds, the black-garbed Habaki would grab the opponent over his head, jump upward, and then break the opponent in half over his head when he lands. This was changed, with the final version featuring Habaki throwing the character upward and punching into them as they fell. The ninja version of Gyaku shares Habaki's fatality.

The final game was a rushed project. The development team tried to get Kasumi Ninja finished in a 'timely fashion' (holiday season 1994), but was unsuccessful in launching the game in time for Christmas. Instead, it launched on Tuesday, December 27th. As a result of the rush, the story mode was dropped in favor of the fighting concept minus the storyline. The labyrinth exploration and key gathering concept was condensed, but the character unlocking system remained intact. Players were not required to use unlocked characters to defeat every other character before opening up another character for play, however.

A list of the most dramatic changes from the Beta version to release are:

  • Renaming of "Tsuba" to "Senzo"
  • Recolor of Habaki to orange
  • A mountainous, desert-like arena (modeled after the American mid-west) which served as Alaric's background, was removed
  • Senzo's indoor temple background had many of the lion statues removed, and the static green (orange in earliest builds) background was replaced with a large shoji, featuring the silhouettes of two women praying over incense.
  • Habaki/Gyaku's outdoor palace background had columns and lion statues, which were removed for final product
  • A more ominous, unnerving soundtrack was changed from Beta to release
  • The announcer voice was more serious and dark in tone during Beta, but was modulated to sound more ridiculous and stereotypical for the final product
  • The labyrinth was removed entirely and turned into a single room with a gate on one wall that led to final boss Gyaku after all opponents were beaten
  • Alaric's dynamite fatality added more gore and a more dramatic explosion, throwing the lower body of the opponent high into the air
  • Habaki/Gyaku's fatality originally had them lift the opponents over them and break them in half over their head
  • Pakawa's scalping fatality featured only a few blood drops in Beta, whereas copious amounts of blood would drip in the final version

Reception[edit]

Reception
Review scores
Publication Score
AllGame 2/5 stars[3]

The game was universally panned by critics. It has been criticized for being a blatant rip-off of Mortal Kombat (including gameplay, digitized graphics and graphic violence) with poor controls. GamePro commented that the graphics are technically impressive, but often unpleasant to look at due to aesthetic choices such as the palette swapped characters, the massive blood drops, and Angus's kilt-lifting move. They also criticized the controls, the music, and the announcer's voice, and concluded "Kasumi's a 64-bit warrior destined to remain in the shadows of deeper 16-bit fighting games."[4] Next Generation Magazine gave it one star out of five, calling it "a tragic example when good ideas are poorly executed" and citing "jerky animation", "sluggish control" and "baffling gameplay mechanics that discourage close-up fighting".[5]

In a retrospective review, Allgame praised the game's visuals, but criticized the controller and concluded the game to be no more than "a horrible cash-in" Mortal Kombat clone that "should be ignored by all but the most devoted 64-bit Atari Jaguar fans."[3] GamePro summarized that "Kasumi Ninja was a terrible, terrible Jaguar title - bad controller, bad controls, terrible menu set, forgettable characters, and an utterly unoriginal premise - that, thankfully, history has forgotten."[6]

In 2009, Topless Robot ranked it as the fourth worst Mortal Kombat rip-off.[7] In 2011, UGO.com included it in their list of the 102 worst games of all time.[8] That same year, Complex called it "one of the worst Jaguar games ever released in a sea of awful Jaguar games."[9] In 2012, Complex also ranked it as the fourth worst fighting game of all time, adding, "It was hard choosing amongst Ultra Vortek, Fight for Life, and Kasumi Ninja for the worst Jaguar fighting game, but we’re going to go with the last one mentioned because it’s probably the most famous. And also the worst."[10]

References[edit]

External links[edit]