Review: Kaze Kiri (1994 PC Engine)

Kaze Kiri is one of those rare late PC Engine CD games that is ridiculously overpriced (150-200$). The Play Station, Sega Saturn and PC-FX were just around the corner and an action game like Kaze Kiri had some big shoes to fill because the game would be compared to games such as Shinobi 3, Hagane and Rondo of Blood.
Kaze Kiri might not outperform any of these games but it is certainly worth playing if you emulate it or get a repro cd from PCE Works.

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Off to rescue another princess!

Being a CD game, Kaze Kiri impresses right of the bat with great presentation. Sweet looking anime cutscene and appropriately crafted tunes to go with it. Immediately I had a great first impression and i hadn’t even started playing the game yet.
Kaze Kiri borrows the much popular plot of Super Mario Bros. as in the main character has to rescue a princess, except this time with some no bullshit, fast paced slice and dice ninja action.

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Slice’n’dice!

Kaze storms an enemy base with a moveset so bloated that you would hardly believe that it can all be easily performed on the 2 button PC Engine/Turbografx controller. The controls are very tight and the gameplay is fun, seamless and just easy to enjoy. One button slices/throws a ninja star based on you distance from the enemy while the other button jumps. Holding up while moving in a direction lets you sprint, double tapping a direction let you slide attack, holding down/direction and jump button lets you side step a la shield stepping in Smash Bros, you can down kick form the air, press select to disappear for a short while and then you can grab an enemy like in Street Fighter.

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One of the earlier bosses

In fact, the game kind of plays like a side-scrolling beat ’em up/fighting game hybrid, perhaps like Tekken Force in Tekken 3. The reason I say this is that Kaze Kiri places its emphasize on fighting rather than platforming. The stages are all flat, side-scrolling with no holes or stairs, and the goal is just to wipe out enemies until the boss shows up. These enemies can take a punch and most of them are not just your average Final Fight grunts. Fighting takes strategy as well as lighting fast reflexes. This is especially true with bosses who are as diverse as they are many (about 12 bosses for 19 stages). These bosses have their strengths and weaknesses and require some thinking to take down, at least in the higher difficulty settings. The boss fights and the bloated moveset are the highlight of Kaze Kiri’s gameplay and they keep the game fresh in a game that might otherwise need some variety which is often the case with side-scrolling beat ’em ups.

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Character skin and a flexible option menu

Kaze Kiri has 3 difficulty settings as well as number of lives of your choice so the game can range from pretty easy to almost impossible which is a great feature. The game is 19 stages long  and has 2 endings. Then, when you beat the game for the first time you unlock a female skin for your character and a stage select option which is an extremely comfortable and welcome option.

To sum up, Kaze Kiri is an easy to digest fast paced ninja action beat’ em up game that is really easy to enjoy. Even though the plot is simple the game has a strong identity that comprises of great anime cutscenes, solid graphics, old school high energy ninja anime-ish music and amazing artwork.
Kaze Kiri plays like a side-scrolling beat ’em up/fighting game hybrid with super tight controls that make 150% use of the PC Engine/Turbografx 16 controller. Even though the action can get stale after a while and perhaps a bit generic, a well programmed persistent boss usually shows up to spice up the action just in time.

Gameplay 8
Visuals 8
Music 8
Lasting appeal 8
How has it aged? 8

Overall 8 a very good game

Check out this longplay for a closer look at the gameplay

 

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