Released in 2003, game developers Taito Corporation and Red Entertainment teamed up to create a third-person hack n’ slash/beat em’ up video game for the Playstation 2 that used a fighting style often seen in martial arts action films. Titled Bujingai in Japan, (Bujingai: Swordmaster in Europe and Bujingai: The Forsaken City in North America) players take on the role of the protagonist Lau. Set a century after a global incident that wiped out most of the world’s population survivors found themselves given special abilities which they mastered through magic and swordsmanship. Formerly exiled, Lau returns to Earth to battle his former friend and practicing partner Rei, who has been possessed by an evil spirit, giving him the power to create portals to allow demons to come through and take over.
Bujingai has the player running around different stages, each one being set in a different environment, completing minor tasks while engaging combat with numerous enemies at once, eventually leading to the powerful end-stage demon boss battle. Armed with dual-wielding swords and magical attacks the player can experiment with various attack patterns and combinations. These patterns can be furthered through leveling up Lau’s abilities and utilizing his jump, dodge, and spin abilities to chain attacks that reach into the hundreds, and even chaining a 1,000 hit combo on a single enemy.
Although Lau has many offensive abilities, he also has mastered the art of defense. Using the defense gauge next to the health bar, Lau can defend against both physical and magical abilities where he can counter with his own attacks or evade to break to get out of the way. However, after each attack blocked, the defense gauge will deplete and when it empties, Lau will be open to attacks until he refills. As the game progresses, stronger enemies will eventually be able to clash, creating a back and forth of offensive and defensive attacks, which will last until either Lau or the enemy runs out of their defense gauge, or until somebody makes an evasive move. Be careful when you clash, as if an enemy hit Lau while he’s clashing, he’ll take damage and will be at a disadvantage. Progressing through the game, magic spells will be found ranging from shooting out a fireball, summoning a whirlwind, or even stat boosting spells. Spells use up Lau’s magic gauge which can be refilled by attacking enemies or finding power-up items during the stage.
Diving further and further into the game, the game gets harder, which means harder enemies and bosses. In order to make sure Lau is ready to take them on, players collect blue orbs which are dropped from defeated enemies. These blue orbs serve as points to level up his total health, defense gauge, magic gauge, and his physical and magical attacks. More orbs and a letter grade are awarded based on the player’s total performance after completing a stage.
While Taito Corporation and Red Entertainment developed the game, they called in help from two well-known names. Toshihiro Kawamoto was the character designer who also designed the characters for the anime series Cowboy Bebop and Wolf’s Rain and Yousuke Kuroda was the game’s scenario writer, the same man who worked on Gungrave, Please Teacher! And Trigun. Even the pop Gackt had a role in the game, taking on the voice acting of Lau (there are no actual dialogue lines, but his voice is heard during gameplay.) Bujingai was was praised for the battle system, character design and the game’s visual style, but it was also criticized for lacking in terms of the jump mechanics, the level designs, and having a plot that was on the weak side. However, that doesn’t mean the game shouldn’t be played.
Fan of the Devil May Cry series will surely find fun out of the hack n’ slash nature found in this game. Just like how many spent hours trying to find every possible combination Dante can do using all of his weapons and abilities, players will spend hours as Lau trying to clear the game without taking a single hit using his abilities and even taking that challenge to achieve the 1,000 hit combo.
Pick up Bujingai and master Lau’s abilities with flare!
If you want to check out a quick peek into the game, check out this video made by our mathematician for Nerdier Tides: Bujingai: The Forsaken City Intro Sequence. He’ll also be doing gameplay videos for it so if you want more, go ahead and watch!