Kensei: Sacred Fist

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KenseiSacredFist NAfrontcover.png
North American cover art
Developer(s) Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo
Publisher(s) Konami
Director(s) Hirotaka Ishikawa
Producer(s) Gozo Kitao
Composer(s) Suzuki Kyoban
Norikazu Miura
Akira Yamaoka
Platform(s) PlayStation
Release
  • JP: November 19, 1998
  • NA: November 30, 1998
  • EU: 1998
Genre(s) Fighting
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

Kensei: Sacred Fist, known in Japan as Bugi (武戯 -BUGI-), is a 1998 3D-based fighting game developed by Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo and published by Konami. It was first released in Japan on November 19, 1998, in North America on November 30, 1998, and in Europe the same year. It was later re-released in 2001 under the reissue title Kensei: Sacred Fist Value Series. The game is a straight-to-console release, without an arcade counterpart.

Gameplay[edit]

Kensei uses a button distribution style, separating them into punch, kick, throw and guard. The system provides the player with a large array of moves and combos, and multi-step throws are available, though both normal and multi-throws can be countered by pressing a button that flashes on the screen. Game speed is rather slow (one of the reasons for it not to become an arcade game), and relies more on timing, strategy and accurate knowledge of attack ranges to land successful combo strings and juggles. Button-mashing is often a bad tactical choice, since the characters remain vulnerable for long times after performing an unsuccessful combo. Jumping is realistic, albeit for some extra height. Sidestepping is allowed but is a much slower move, aside from some characters who integrate special sidesteps in their movesets.

The guard button acts rather as a "dodge" button, as the characters' animation shows them avoiding the attacks rather than taking them on their guard. Characters may assume rapidly a counter-offensive position or be "bounced back" to dodge, and the recovery time relies on the player's ability to press the guard button with sufficient time. Low attacks must be guarded by pressing Down + Guard Button, while pressing Up + Guard Button may allow the character to sidestep at the end of a combo.

The Arcade game structure of Kensei comprises 10 stages, with the first eight being made up of random opponents. The specific playing character will encounter a sub-boss in the ninth stage while the tenth one will have them facing off against the crime lord Leimeng and the eleventh (and final) one will have the playing character battle against Leimeng's bodyguard Kaiya. Along with the classical Survival, Training, and Time Attack modes, a special mini-game can be activated once all characters have been unlocked: it's a "racing" mode where the player controls a character and makes it run through a circuit, using button mashing to gain speed.

Playable Characters[edit]

The game features 9 initial playable fighters from around the world with their own varied fighting styles and 14 hidden characters that can be unlocked through the completion of the game. Most of the unlockables share a moveset with one of the main characters, with slight modifications regarding the attacking range and combo length.

The following is a list of the 9 main characters, with their unlockable counterparts:

  • Yugo Sangunji (Karate, Japan): Yugo was forced into fighting his brother Akira as a result of their parents' disagreement over training methodologies. Now, he finds himself leaving home and embarking on a journey in a bid to test his own strength. His surname is actually 三軍司 ("Sanguuji") in the original Japanese version. Voiced by Masaaki Ōkura
    • Akira Sangunji (Karate, Japan): The older brother and sub-boss to Yugo Sangunji.
  • Hong Yuli (Drunken Fist, China): Yuli became curious about the true art of Drunken Fist Fighting while training under a Drunken Kung-Fu master called Su Qingtao. She is determined to prove herself as a first-class Drunken Kung-Fu artist. Voiced by Kumiko Watanabe
    • Su Qingtao (Drunken Fist, China): A master of Drunken Fist and sub-boss to Hong Yuli.
  • Douglas Anderson (Jeet Kune Do/Koppo, USA): Douglas has spent years trying to hunt down a global crime syndicate. After a major breakthrough in the case, his partner Jim was gunned down in cold blood. Douglas is looking for a little payback... (Note: Douglas' character design is strongly based on real-life actor and martial artist Steven Seagal.)
    • Yoko Cindy Matsudaira (Koppo, USA): The sub-boss to Douglas Anderson. Voiced by Kimberly Forsythe.
  • Allen (Muay Thai, raised in Asia): Parentless since infancy and raised in an orphanage, Allen's Muay Thai expertise was acquired to defend himself against a dangerous and pitiless world. He fights only for survival, one day at a time.
    • Steve Laettner (Kickboxing, USA): The sub-boss to Allen.
  • Ann Griffith (Amateur wrestling, Great Britain): Ann loves amateur wrestling and plans to expand public interest in it by staging a street fight event. Voiced by Sarah Selleri.
    • Arthur Stewart (Amateur wrestling, Great Britain): The sub-boss to Ann Griffith.
  • Hyoma Tsukikage (Ninjutsu, Japan): Left as an infant at Oomiwa Temple, along with his older sister Kazane, by their parents who subsequently disappeared. Hyoma has been training at the temple since that day. But one day, he comes across a clue to his parent's possible whereabouts and decides to search for them.
    • Sessue Kanoh (Ninjutsu, Japan): The ninjutsu master who is a guardian to both Hyoma and Kazane Tsukikage. The sub-boss to Hyoma. Voiced by Kōji Ishii.
  • Heinz Streit (Pit fighting, Germany): Heinz was born into a family of known aristocratic ancestry but quickly grew tired of his wealthy and pampered life. Now he spends his days picking and joining fights. He enjoys the status of being the black sheep of the family.
    • Natsuki Kornelia (Pit fighting, Germany): The sub-boss to Heinz Streit. Voiced by Kimberly Forsythe.
  • David Human (Professional wrestling, USA): A popular pro wrestler, David hears rumors that his friend and rival Mark has joined forces with an underground organization, and decides to find out the truth.
    • Mark Galeon (Professional wrestling, USA): The sub-boss to David Human. Voiced by Eric Kelso
  • Saya Tsubaki (Kenpo, Japan): Saya has a father who walked out five years ago, and a family who avoids answering her questions about him. Tired of the evasions, she decides to search for him herself, despite her grandfather Genya's attempts to stop her. Voiced by Yuriko Fuchizaki.
    • Genya Tsubaki (Kenpo, Japan): The father of Kaiya Tsubaki and the grandfather to Saya. The sub-boss to Saya.

Other unlockable characters are:

  • Zhou Leimeng ("Original Style", Hong Kong): The first boss of the game. A Hong Kong Chinese man dressed in a business suit who rules an evil crime corporation. He is far shorter than the other characters in the game, therefore moves that target at his head's height usually fail against him.
  • Kaiya Tsubaki (Kenpo, Japan): The second and final boss of the game. The father of Saya and son of Genya, the manual implies that Kaiya serves as Zhou's bodyguard.
  • Jelly Thomas/Billy Thomas ("Original Style", USA): Two American brothers who wear animal masks over their heads: Jelly (presumably "Jerry") wears a parrot mask while Billy wears a penguin mask. The two of them share the same character slot, much like Kuma/Panda in the Tekken series.
  • Kazane Tsukikage (Ninjutsu, Japan): Kazane is the older sister of Hyoma. Her name was mistranslated as "Fuune" in the American manual, and entirely changed to "Kimiko" in the European manual. Voiced by Saeko Shimazu.

Reception[edit]

Reviews
Publication Score
IGN 5.5 out of 10[citation needed]
GameSpot 4.7 out of 10[citation needed]
GamePro 3.5 out of 5[citation needed]
Official PS Magazine 9 out of 10[citation needed]

References[edit]

External links[edit]