Budokan - The Martial Spirit

a game by Electronic Arts

Platform: Sega GenesisGenesis

Genre: Fighting Games

You beat Bad Dudes, wasted Double Dragon I and II, and out-ninja'ed Shinobi and Revenge of Shinobi. Maybe you've even wiped up the streets with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. So what do you know about martial arts? Nothing. As Tobiko Sensei would say, "You fight like a headless chicken."

It's the Real Thing

Most fighting games may be great games, but they leave you with little real understanding of martial arts. They usually mash comic book ninjitsu, karate, and kung fu into "video-fu."

Budokan, Electronic Arts' first Genesis game, combines great game- play with a true-to-life depiction of classic Okinawan Karate and Japanese Kendo. In fact, comparing the martial arts action in typical beat-em-ups to Budokan is like comparing "bait" to "sushi."

The School of Hard Knocks

Your task is simple: master four martial arts well-enough to represent the Tobiko-Ryu Dojo with honor at an all -- star tournament in Tokyo's Budokan.

You start off in the courtyard of Tobiko Sensei's martial arts school. Here you learn four fighting arts -- Karate, Kendo, and classic karate weapons the Bo (long staff) and the Nunchaku (double clubs). Of course, you can skip class and go directly to the Budokan, but bring along plenty of Band-aids.


  • Mastering the controller requires accuracy over speed. Learn to time your button pressing to the character's onscreen movement.
  • Fighting with Karate, Kendo, and the Bo you repeat strikes each time you press a button. But with the Nunchaku, just hold the button down tor lightning quick multiple strikes.

The courtyard fronts five buildings -- Sensei's hall and one dojo for each art -- and a Free-Spar Mat. In each dojo you can practice by yourself or face-off against a computer opponent with three degrees of skill.

Learning the moves is challenging but fun. They're intricate and numerous; Karate alone has 31 possible moves. Many of the best (and most effective) moves require precise, simultaneous button presses. Your controller gets a real workout.

The forward jump strikes in Karate and Kendo (simultaneously press Upper Right Diagonal and any button) are their most powerful moves. But they eat a lot of Stamina.

But in addition to the fancy finger presses, it's essential to learn patience in order to build up Stamina and focus Ki, your internal life force. Stamina gauges your physical strength and Ki governs the force of your blows.

Resting builds Stamina, but it you hold a block Stamina doesn't increase.

The Free-Spar Mat is only practice but it's a kick, in more ways than one. Pit your skills against any other fighting form, for example, Karate versus Kendo. Here you can also face-off against a second player, but this is the only time two people can play each other.

Learn the lower spin moves for Karate and the Bo, no one can defend against them. But stay alert, your opponents try to counter quickly with low blows.

Fight to the Finish

At the Budokan you confront representatives from other dojos, twelve opponents in all.

The Budokan's highlights are encounters with rare martial arts in addition to different styles of the arts you know. For example, you'll face masters of the Tonfa (double sticks), Kusari-gama (sickle and chain), and the Naginata (long lance) -- all classic Okinawan and Japanese weapons. You even face a ninja, who should please both martial arts purists and Shinobi disciples alike.

  • The Bo Is best versus the Nunchaku and the Kendo masters.
  • Karate's Grouch Sweep Kick is a very effective inside move. Press Down, then simultaneously hit Lower Left Diagonal and a button. For multiple sweeps, keep the button pressed down.

In the tournament you need all your fighting skills, but you're only allowed to win with any one martial art a maximum of four times. You get three chances to defeat an opponent. Win and you move up, minus one usage of your winning skill. Lose and you fight a previous opponent again but without losing a skill. Use up your skills and it's back to the dojo for more training.

  • You need room to maneuver. Don't let an opponent force you to the edge of the mat. When the match begins quickly advance to the center of the mat and fight from there.
  • Karate's High Block (press Upper Left Diagonal and a button simultaneously) is very strong defense against the Nunchaku.
  • Longer is better. The weapons in order according to length: the Bo, the Nunchaku, and the Kendo shinai (bamboo sword).

Why Do You Think They Call It "Art"?

Budokan accurately portrays martial arts in a sophisticated, almost elegant way. Even the manual is well-done. The animation and graphics are smooth, clean, and detailed. In fact, get a wooden staff and the onscreen Bo movements are good enough that you can really learn some cool moves!

Here's a martial arts game that emphasizes the "art" over the "martial" without scrimping on the action. Budokan is a smash that ought to give other fighting games a swift kick in the pants.

Other games by
Electronic Arts

Budokan - The Martial Spirit Downloads

Sega Genesis Budokan - The Martial Spirit download
  • Theme: Sim.
  • Players: 1
  • Difficulty: Hard

E.A. began it all with the first martial arts simulation. You'll need to train, keep fit, and be ready to take on the toughest competitors around the world.

reggie posted a review

Budokan is a martial arts game covering Karate, Kendo, Nunchaku, and Bo. In this game you can practice your skills alone, or spar against the instructors or your friends. Finally, when you feel you are ready, you can travel to the world championship martial arts tournament at Budokan.

reggie posted a review
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