Budokan review - Sega Megadrive

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Let's get one thing straight from the start - this isn't your standard beat 'em up. That isn't to say you don't hit people - far from it; but skill and thought play more of a part than in most games of this ilk.

The player takes the role of a young, ambitious martial arts novice attempting to learn four different skills: Kendo, Karate, Bo (using a long staff), and Nunchaku (a weapon consisting of two short sticks connected by a chain).

First a discipline is chosen by walking into the corresponding dojo, or school. There you have the choice of practice, or sparring with one of three opponents.

During a fight, your stamina and Ki levels are very important - the former displays how tired you are, and the latter determines the power of your blows. They both increase the longer you avoid being hit, but decrease when you move, or get hit. An opponent has similar levels, and the object is simply to decrease both his levels before yours diminish to zero.

There are an enormous array of combat moves to learn, all of which are detailed in the manual. You have to study this, or be beaten to a pulp every time!

After every bout, Tobiko-Sensei, your mentor, gives you a rundown on your performance so that you can see where you can improve your abilities.

All this leads up to competing in the Budokan itself. In this championship you can select a discipline and are then shown information about your foe. Studying this reaps rewards in the arena, as you have three attempts at defeating him (or her!). There's even a two-player option so that you can knock the stuffing out of a friend. Are you ready for the challenge?

What the Mean Machines staff thought


" I was ecstatic to see this game come on to the Megadrive, which has a number of good beat 'em ups - but nothing like this! Sure, the controls are difficult to master, but perseverance soon reaps rewards: there's nothing like delivering a spin kick to the head! I particularly like the range of options, as all four arts require different skills and tactics (my favourite is kendo). It's a gorgeous-looking game, with real excitement to be had. It's maybe not as immediately grabbing as some arcade game, what with Ki playing such an important part, but has a depth and sophistication rarely seen. Highly recommended! "

" Budokan really adds a new twist to the beat 'em up genre - it's a thinking man's fighting game. You have to use both your brain and reflexes as you balance stamina, Ki and pure skill to outwit the opponents. The sheer variety of moves take time to master, but practice reaps its own rewards - you really feel a sense of satisfaction and achievement when you start to make headway in the Budokan. The graphics and sound are both top-notch, and with tough opponents to beat, Budokan is highly recommended to beat 'em up fans who are looking for a real challenge. "


Overall Score87%

Retrospective comments


Compared to Street Fighter II or Fatal Fury, Budokan looks very dull and uninteresting. However, the game has plenty of depth to it. The focus is on hitting your opponent with a killer move, rather than punching them into the ground with fireballs and the like. This is a 'thinking mans' fighter and no mistake, and is well worth picking up if you're after a brawler that forces you to 'engage brain' rather than 'bash buttons'.

Dan - 19 Feb 2009, 10:50 GMT

This was wank, thinking man's BEU my arse, it was as boring as you get and lasted about 2 days before I swapped it. No major flaws, just not fun to play, around the 40% mark for me.

Be interesting to find out if this was reviewed by Matt himself or Rich being the Matt stand-in, as I just get a weird vibe of Matt's review.

GM - 18 Jul 2010, 04:19 GMT

There is this sense of realism to Budokan which makes it a uniquely enjoyable game for me (much the same feeling I get from playing the arcade version of Karate Champ). It's definitely not your run-of-the-mill fighter and worth trying out if you have the patience to learn the game.

Mean Machines Issue 2 - November 1990
Beat 'Em Up Sega Megadrive
Electronic Arts
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