Kabuki Quantum Fighter
Box Shot
Kabuki Quantum Fighter
Platform: NES
Publisher: HAL
Designer: HAL
Genre: Action
Players: 1
Published Date 1991
Reviewed by: Kurt Kalata

With a name like Kabuki Quantum Fighter, you have to expect a wacky experience, with a bizarre setting, containg a strung-out plot. And it's all true... HAL (who also made Kirby's Adventure) turns a slightly above average side scroller into one of the weirdest games in NES history (barring those ridiculous Wisdom Tree games like Bible Adventures anyway.)

Well, you play as a kabuki dancer who has to kill bad guys. The designers needed to think up a really weird-ass plot to get this to work, so they took the Terminator route and the whole "computers are bad" schtick and whipped up a plot. It seems like this evil computer that controls all nuclear weapons has gone haywire (running Windows 95 no doubt) and is going to destroy everything. Instead of doing something simple like formatting the hard drive, scientists develop this machine that can translate humans into binary data, thus allowing them to actually "put" a human into a computer. A dude named Scott O'Connor is going into the computer to destroy whatever evil data circuits may lurk. Only, see, nobody knows what form the person would take when they enter the computer. Since Scott's grandfather was a kabuki dancer (a sort of Japanese performast, but I don't know much else) and thus Scott has taken on that form. There are little cutscenes between each level detailing what little other story there is, but seem to have actualy little bearing on the game (for instance, the cinemas mention that Scott's brain waves stop, yet you proceed onto the next level like normal.)

The main weapon you have is to whip your brightly red colored hair as bad guys, although you can also punch (when ducking) or kick (when hanging on overhead bars.) Each level also yields a new weapon that consumes chips, much like ammo. I personally never realy use these weapons (used for killing at a distance) because they are often pitifully weak. Plus most seem to be a waste of chips, which can be helpful at a boss (during a fight you can exchange chips for life by pausing and press Up) There are a total of five levels (not including the final boss) but most are a bit on the short side, and most consist of only one sublevel and a boss. At first, the game seems to be pretty standard fair...walk forward (or vertically, in some levels) killing things, jumping over spikes and obstacles, climbing up a ladder here and there, until you reach the end. There are also little bars that you can grab onto. Many times there are jumps you have to make by swinging from bar to bar, making sure you don't jump too far or too high so that you hit the spikes on the ceilings. There are also points where you must make really quick jumps upward while timing your swings in between flamethrowers. This would be okay, if it weren't for the quirky play control.

See, if you take the A button while on these bars, you'll quickly jump off but without much height. If you hold it down just a tiny bit more, you'll jump off very slowly, but you'll jump really high. In this case, it's probably that you'll take damage if there's an obstalce blocking your ascent. It takes a bit of getting used too. Also, jumping while on conveyor belts is a bit odd...if the belt's moving in the same direction you are, you'll go flying. But if its the opposite direction, you'll make a pathetic little leap that goes almost nowhere. Again, this would be forgivable if there weren't so many annoying jumps that relied on perfect timing.

The game's graphics are really just OK...the enemies are very, very stupid looking, and the bosses have no detail, but the kabuki fighter is well animated, and at least the backgrounds look okay. Still, I never imagined the inside of a computer looking like this. I thought water would destroy computers, yet its found regularly in the game. I guess it's meant to be more biological than computers are now. Some backgrounds are a bit scary actually, but nothing that approaches Contra-quality creepiness. Like the game itself, the music is suitably quirky...yet I like a lot it. Most of the tunes have a nifty beat, even if they aren't the sort of things you'd listen to outside of the game. I've already mentioned the play control quirks, but the rest of the game controls fine.

Overall, Kabuki Quantum Fighter could've been an original game experience to fit the unique setting, but really doesn't take effect like it should. The game is really fun though, at least until Level 3 or so, where the game turns into "dodge the obstacles and make precise jumps", a veer away from the fun "hit enemies with the hair" routine. There aren't many levels either, and the game really isn't too hard, even though you're only given two continues. Overall, Kabuki Quantum Fighter is worth playing as a game, but is ultimately better suited as bragging material to your NES illiterate friends. ("Hey guys, forget Tomb Raider! I played a game called Kabuki Quantum Fighter!" You'll get stares from everyone. I know. I've tried.)