Patreon button  Steam curated reviews  Discord button  Facebook button  Twitter button 
3DS | PC | PS4 | PS5 | SWITCH | VITA | XB1 | XSX | All

Kabuki: Quantum Fighter (NES) artwork

Kabuki: Quantum Fighter (NES) review

"Scott finds himself in the body of a kabuki performer that attacks with his hair. Why? It was 1990. Why not?"

I absolutely adore revisiting retro titles and coming across some of the insane premises upon which some developers chose to build a game. Kabuki: Quantum Fighter is one of those games that sounds like it was created by throwing darts at words on a corkboard. I canít even say the name with a straight face. Ridiculous premise aside, though, this is one of the better action games on the NESÖ and relatively easy to come by, as well.

The year is 2056, and the defense computer that governs most of the countryís nuclear weapons has been hijacked. The system isnít responding to any of the attempts to crack into it, and time is running out. By happy random happenstance, a new, experimental piece of equipment has been developed that can temporarily transform a human mind into binary data. What form that data will take once inside the system is a mystery, but itís the only way to get into the defense system before missiles start flying. Thatís where Colonel Scott OíConnel enters the picture. He volunteers to infiltrate the computer system and the viral defenses put into place by the ones responsible for this threat. Once inside, Scott finds himself in the body of a kabuki performer that attacks with his hair. Why? It was 1990. Why not?

Kabuki: Quantum Fighter is an action game that pilfers a few elements from all manner of NES games. Normally, Iíd ding it for the lack of originality (you know, aside from the head-banging kabuki character), but developer Human Entertainment stole the right aspects from the right games. The result is an entertaining experience in its own right.

Scott--who Iíll call Kabuki from now on--doesnít have much in his arsenal to start with. His primary means of attack is to strike with his mighty mane of red hair, which is far more dangerous in digital form than any real-life counterpart would be. In a maddening design choice, however, Kabukiís crouching attack doesnít utilize his lethal locks. Instead, he relies on a piddly little punch with terrible range. This is a problem because so many of the enemies come in low, and such skirmishes offer the greatest likelihood that you will take damage from foes. The main hair attack that is available in most circumstances is plenty effective, though, and I especially enjoyed the satisfying ďsnapĒ it makes on contact.

Besides his default moves, Kabuki also uses ranged attacks that are powered by chips gathered from fallen enemies. As bosses are defeated, new weapons are gained (on a very Mega Man-esque screen), giving Kabuki a lot of different attacks that are best saved for boss fights. I wished that there were a way to power up his attacks, though. Even though most enemies go down after sustaining only one or two hits, the lack of range with the normal attack and the need to conserve special weapons for boss fights limits the action to a degree.

Kabuki: Quantum Fighter features some amazing animation, and this is most obvious during the boss fights with humanoid characters. The second boss, for example, backflips and jump kicks around the room with such fluidity that it was tough to get his patterns down. Similarly, Kabuki himself moves through the computer environment with obvious grace. One of his main methods of traversal involves grabbing onto small handholds and flipping onto the next platform. Itís a movement that needs to be seen to be properly appreciated; few characters on the NES ever moved as well as Kabuki does.

Flipping from handhold to handhold is a vital skill for you to master before you attempt the gameís many platforming sequences, which offer most of the challenges youíll encounter throughout the adventure. When it comes to maneuvering through levels and avoiding obstacles, this game feels a lot like Sunsoftís Batman game, with just a bit of Ninja Gaiden thrown in for good measure (like I said, they borrowed from the best). Precision is the name of the game here, and it takes a deft hand to get Kabuki through the environmental defenses of the computer mainframe. Once I got the finer points of flipping from the handholds, I was able to reach that zen-like state normally reserved for really tough shooters.

When it comes to presentation, it seems like most of the developersí care went into making Kabuki really stand out with his look and animation. The backgrounds are mostly static and the regular enemies offer little variety and animation. The detail on Kabuki makes up for this, though, and his distinct white kimono and red hair are quite striking. The level cutscenes that unfold between stages boast a strong, anime-inspired art style and expertly tell what little story there is to tell. As for the music, it rocks. Fast tempo, strong backbeat tunes move the game along at a brisk pace and perfectly contribute to the zen-like feeling that youíll get once you grow accustomed to the platformingís demands. As I played, I often found that my moves synced perfectly with the beat, as if I was playing a rhythm title.

Iíve always had a soft spot in my heart for Kabuki: Quantum Fighter. It was a game I initially played because the title intrigued me. As a kid, I had a lot of fun with it. Years later, it remains a high-quality action title for the NES, although the skills Iíve honed over time have made me realize how tiny this game is. Six areas fly by, with only the high challenge offered by the platforming and boss battles keeping the adventure from ending in less than a half-hour. Kabuki: Quantum Fighter doesnít quite stand toe to toe with the many games it borrows from, but itís still well worth checking out.


AlphaNerd's avatar
Freelance review by Julian Titus (May 21, 2013)

A bio for this contributor is currently unavailable, but check back soon to see if that changes. If you are the author of this review, you can update your bio from the Settings page.

More Reviews by Julian Titus [+]
Conquest of the Crystal Palace (NES) artwork
Conquest of the Crystal Palace (NES)

If you happen across Conquest of the Crystal Palace, youíre likely to get your moneyís worth, but thatís mostly only because youíre probably not going to pay much to acquire it.
Metal Gear (NES) artwork
Metal Gear (NES)

If you can go into this game with the knowledge that itís a flawed version of the original game from the outset, it can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience.
Flying Warriors (NES) artwork
Flying Warriors (NES)

These warriors fly about as well as I do when I put on a cape and jump from the roof.


If you enjoyed this Kabuki: Quantum Fighter review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

You must be signed into an HonestGamers user account to leave feedback on this review.

User Help | Contact | Ethics | Sponsor Guide | Links

eXTReMe Tracker
© 1998-2020 HonestGamers
None of the material contained within this site may be reproduced in any conceivable fashion without permission from the author(s) of said material. This site is not sponsored or endorsed by Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Microsoft, or any other such party. Kabuki: Quantum Fighter is a registered trademark of its copyright holder. This site makes no claim to Kabuki: Quantum Fighter, its characters, screenshots, artwork, music, or any intellectual property contained within. Opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily represent the opinion of site staff or sponsors. Staff and freelance reviews are typically written based on time spent with a retail review copy or review key for the game that is provided by its publisher.