Budokan: The Martial Spirit is a video game by Electronic Arts, originally released in 1989. The game saw release on multiple platforms, including Amiga, DOS, Sega Genesis, ZX Spectrum, MSX, Amstrad CPC, and Commodore 64.
The game starts with the player at the gates of the Tobiko-Ryu Dojo, the training hall headed by Tobiko-Sensei. In order to continue and enter the courtyard, the game requires you to identify a family crest which is displayed on the screen, typical of the copy protection methodology employed by PC games in those days.
The game mechanics are vastly different than what are commonly employed in the 2D fighting game franchises that followed it (Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Samurai Shodown, et al). Combat is heavily focused on single strikes from a variety of stances, which you engage and disengage by pressing towards and away, respectively. (Movement is handled with the diagonals, down-towards and down-away.)
Thus, where other games mix up your attacks by employing multiple buttons and mixing in the distance from your opponent, Budokan allows you specific control over whether you strike with (for example) a front kick, side kick, or a reverse roundhouse kick, and whether that kick is aimed at the head, chest or shin, using only the d-pad and a single button. Which strike you use is determined by (a) the stance that you engage to open the attack and (b) the directional button that you end up pressing when you finally press the Strike button. (Blocking is handled similarly, and requires the same amount of attention to precision with regards to high, medium and low.)
- Street Fighter II, Dhalsim's stretch double punch: Stay far away, press Fierce punch
- Street Fighter II, Dhalsim's two-hit headbutt: Get in close, press Fierce punch
- Budokan, Karate side-kick: press away to engage side-kick stance, then press attack
- Budokan, Karate front-kick: press towards to engage front-kick stance, then press attack
- Budokan, Karate reverse roundhouse kick: press towards to engage front-kick stance, then press away and attack
- Budokan, Karate chest punch: press and hold attack to engage punching/blocking stance, then press towards
- Budokan, Karate mid-block: press and hold attack to engage punching/blocking stance, then press away
While it offers maximum control and is arguably what makes Budokan unique, the mechanics can also be a bit cumbersome and lead to slower, more plodding matches when compared to the faster-moving 2D fighters of today. There are no physics-defying special moves such as fireball or body launcher attacks.
Below your stamina meter (which recovers slowly over time), there is a "Ki" meter that builds up very slowly when you're not attacking, and though it's not really analogous to today's "Super" meters, the higher your Ki is when attacking, the harder you strike (after which the Ki empties out). Thus it's entirely possible (though quite difficult) to knock out an adversary in a single strike after defending and withholding attacks long enough to fill up your Ki entirely.
Throughout the game, you have the ability to choose from four different fighting styles. The following styles are available:
- Karate: Unarmed martial arts style
- Kendo: Form of Japanese fencing with use of a wooden sword
- Nunchaku: A weapon consisting of two sticks connected by a chain or rope
Once in the courtyard, you can select from five different dojos, all of which allow you to practice individual fighting styles. The available training options are jiyu-renshu (practice), kumite (sparring against instructors), and Budokan (tournament). By entering the dojos, you will enter the training mode and be able to practice your moves.
Aside from training, you also have the option of entering the tournament at the Budokan. In this tournament, you will face challengers which use fighting styles that are not practiced at the dojo. The player can only choose a single fighting style a maximum of four times. The tournament pits you against twelve different challengers.
While the game only features one playable character, you do face a variety of challengers in the Budokan tournament, all with their own individual styles and weapons.
Goro is better known for his sushi-eating ability than his karate skill, but don't underestimate him. He's got a good punch and a hefty kick. You'd better stay alert.
Known around town as the "kamikaze kid," Eiji knows only one thing -- all out offensive fighting. He'll want to take you out early, so watch out for his opening combination.
Jimmy was introduced to karate when his dad was station on Okinawa. He quickly fell in love with the beauty of its form and its spiritual depth. Dedicated and serious, Jimmy is solid karate-ka.
Rank: No Rank
Shigeo has spent the last two years on a deserted island striving to perfect his nunchaku technique. Undefeated in local tournaments, he'll crush your spirit if it isn't strong.
He quit his full-time job as a "salary man" to devote his life to the study of budo. Okabe-san's hard and diligent training shows in his strong techniques. Keep your guard up and the pressure on.
Martial arts continue to thrive in Europe as exemplified by Arnie. His strength has earned him top rankings worldwide. His kicks are fast, powerful, and accurate. Respect him.
"Mountain Man" Ikeda lives in a small secluded village high atop Mt. Ueno. Once a year, he travels to Tokyo to compete in the Budokan. Unfortunately for you, he has returned again this year.
She started training at age ten and continues to improve and refine her technique. Don't let her delicate appearance fool you - it may be the last mistake you will ever make.
Randy started his training in Honolulu but then decided to move to Japan and study under the notorious "White Tiger," Mizukami-Sensei. His style may be rather unorthodox, but it is deadly.
People speculate that Ayako studies a very ancient and obscure form of Ninjitsu. Though many argue about its origins, there's no arguing about its effectiveness.
"Fight hard, fight fair, and fight with honor!" are the words that Kazuo lives by. He abides by the strict Bushido code of honor, so mind your etiquette in battle.
"Tokage," the Chameleon, has the unnerving ability to mimic and copy his opponent's fighting styles. Your most formidable enemy turns out to be yourself!