As you may have noticed last week, I’ve been doing a little tinkering with the way my reviews are formatted. It’s in an effort to deliver more information to the gamers and the game collectors. I’ll still include my own personal thoughts and feelings about each game but at the same time, I’ll try to focus more on the details of each game and what each one can bring to your own retro game collection. Retro game collecting is nothing new but the hobby seems to be picking up some steam as more people are seeking out their favorite games from their childhood. My goal with my reviews is to transform them into something the gaming community can use, not just for entertainment, but as a tool to help you build your gaming collection.
China Warrior was released in Japan back in 1987 and then the U.S. in 1989 for the PC Engine and the NEC Turbo Grafx 16. It was developed by a little developer known as Hudson Soft, maybe you’ve heard of them? They’re behind games like Bonk, Bomberman, and Mario Party 1-8. For those of you that have suffered from Mario Party rage or have ended friendships, relationships, or even Marriages over the game, now you know where to send your hate mail. Moving on, China Warrior was one of the first games released for the Turbo Grafx 16. In 1987, the game was well received in Japan since it sported large character animations with a fair amount of detail that didn’t look all that bad for a game released in ’87. Two years later in ’89, the game was released to American audiences which were playing games like Golden Axe and Shinobi. The “Nice for 1987 graphics” of China Warrior didn’t stand a chance against newer games and the title wound up flopping in the U.S.
China Warrior follows the story of a young martial artist named Wang. You control Wang as he battles against the minions of the Dark Emperor who resides in the Lu Hao Yang castle. This game suffers a little from the Star Wars syndrome meaning that why you’re battling the Dark Emperor is never explained nor is the Dark Emperor shown doing anything bad. I think what it comes down to is that he’s the Dark Emperor and because of his darkness, that makes him evil and his whole empire must be brought down. This unexplained hatred for the Dark Emperor becomes even more confusing once the game starts.
China Warrior Game Play
China Warrior is a 2D side scrolling brawler but not in the style of Final Fight. It’s setup more like Super Mario where you constantly move from left to right encountering enemies one at a time. The enemies range from Dark Monks to unexplained fireballs to even butterflies, yes, Butterflies. There’s a power bar displayed at the top of the screen to track your damage which can be refilled or charged up with random energy power ups found in each level. You work your way thru each of the 12 stages punching and kicking anything that comes at you from the right side of the screen.
The most common enemy you face in this game are the Monks. This is where the games story gets a little fuzzy. The Monks come at you donning full body robes with their heads down and their hands crossed almost as if they’re meditating. That’s all the Monks do, they walk towards you and nothing else. They don’t punch, they don’t kick, they don’t throw anything at you, and they don’t even look threatening. The worst thing these Monks can do to you is run into you which takes health away from your power bar, that’s it. Yet, Wang feels the need to beat the living shit out of each Monk that crosses his path. These guys don’t even fight back when you unleash a flurry of punches and kicks on them. They just go flying off screen one by one. It looks totally ridiculous as you whale on these peaceful Monks who are guilty of nothing more than bad manners while walking. As the game progresses, some Monks can dodge your attacks which shows that these guys are even going out of their way to avoid any sort of conflict with you.
The thing that kills this game is the repetitiveness of the game play. You beat up rows and rows of Monks and then face an end boss at the end of each level, you do this for the 12 levels. The bosses are various types of Martial Artists that go toe to toe with Wang in a fight to the death. Some bosses are women, some are mirror matches as you fight a guy that’s the identical character as you except black, and one guy is a drunken master that actually has a bottle of booze in his hand while he fights you. The end bosses can punch and kick but nothing more. There’s no super strong attacks or weapons to worry about or any weak spots to focus your attacks on. All you have to do is land a few moderately well timed kicks and punches to defeat each boss.
Like I said earlier, this game doesn’t look all that bad for a game released in 1987. The character artwork is decently detailed as Wang almost appears to have light reflecting off the sweat of his body. The backgrounds aren’t bad either, they’re not good, but they’re not bad. Wang’s journey takes him through various areas of China including some coastline, some mountains, some caves, and a Palace. The backgrounds get repetitive as well but the clever developers at Hudson Soft made an effort to hide this by simply changing the colors of the backgrounds to make them appear different…clap….clap….clap.
The movement of the characters is another nail in the coffin for this game as each character moves like a marionette puppet. The movement is jerky and spastic and it makes timing jumps over obstacles and attacks on end bosses hard to judge at times. In the end, the movement almost makes this game look like a bad browser based java game from the late 90′s.
Pass. Ok, it’s bad. The music isn’t terrible as it’s the highlight of the sounds in this game. The sound effects though, they’re flat out horrible. They’re generic thud and strike sounds that are made when you hit enemies. Occasionally, you will hear a nifty little sound when you collect an energy power up but it’s nothing that even comes close to redeeming the overall sound effects in this game.
Collectibility – Weak
China Warrior was one of the original launch titles for the Turbo Grafx 16 but that doesn’t make it valuable. This game does make for an odd ball addition to a game collection but nothing more. It’s not particularly valuable or rare so unless you’re working on collecting every single Turbo Grafx 16 game or you’re just a game hoarder in general, there’s no reason to feel obligated to pick this game up when you spot it in the wild.
Average Value – $4.45 loose, $25 complete with box
Rarity – Very common with a 17% rating on rarityguide.com
Happy Gaming and Happy Collecting!
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