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Bujingai: The Forsaken City (PlayStation 2) artwork

Bujingai: The Forsaken City (PlayStation 2) review


"Bujingai is the perfect example of the pros and cons of going to your favourite game store, skipping past the shelves full of God of War and Devil May Cry (also beat’em-ups) and heading straight for the bottom of the bargain bin, that one with the games based on local TV shows and other productions you’ve never heard of. As it so often happens with low-budget games, Bujingai is highly irregular: it has several flaws, but also certain points of interest. "



Bujingai is the perfect example of the pros and cons of going to your favourite game store, skipping past the shelves full of God of War and Devil May Cry (also beat’em-ups) and heading straight for the bottom of the bargain bin, that one with the games based on local TV shows and other productions you’ve never heard of. As it so often happens with low-budget games, Bujingai is highly irregular: it has several flaws, but also certain points of interest.

This brand new paragraph is when I ought to start summarising the plot, but there is none. I suspect there was a plot, at some point in development, but maybe someone forgot to add it before the finished product shipped to the distributors. “Oops!” It was probably a story about mystic warriors of the Far East who seek revenge through modern cities and ancient ruins, if what’s left of it is any indication. There are some cutscenes, certainly, but they’re few and short and they rarely make sense. Other characters appear, all of them colour-blind if we’re to judge from the bizarre Chinese clothing they don, and I have reasons to believe a damsel in distress needs to be rescued, but the the few dial- er, monologues, actually, since the main character doesn’t speak- give me the strong impression of referring to events that took place in a previous game: what they say never seems to have any actual connection to anything we see during the course of the game. I have played it, and I honestly don’t really know what it’s about.

What you need to know is that Lau, the main character, has two kickass swords and it is necessary to hack and slash at anything that moves with them (for variety, sometimes you get to hack and slash at things that stand still, too). This would be boring right from the very start were it not for the fact that Lau is actually a good and skilled fighter: his standard combo, which you obtain by mashing Square repeatedly, can be upgraded to chain up to approximately 30 (thirty!) consecutive hits, each one of them an individual and distinct animation in a fluid chain of kung-fu stabs and slashes. I’m used to games that think six consecutive hits is a big combo and display all said hits as a weapon swinging wildly left and right, so Lau’s super-chains are satisfying to pull off and a pleasure to watch. One of the swords leaves a shiny yellow trail when it moves, and the other one, purple. Seeing this flashy combination of colours is “strange” at first, then “strangely hypnotic”, and then “hypnotically awesome”. Each standard combo can be finished in any of four ways, depending on how you want to continue the battle; for example, casting a spell or doing a 360º spin.

Of course, this gets old, too, so there is a gimmick: parrying. If you receive an attack from the front, you will parry it automatically and have the option to counter with your regular attacks, strengthened. The catch is that there is a limited amount of times you can parry, and the stronger enemies and bosses also have this ability, so you will find yourself parrying an attack, counter, and have your move re-countered. So, if you engage an enemy with seven parries and you have five, well, chances are you’ll be the one to end up being hurt. These advanced swordfights are difficult, but exhilarating.

There’s also a fair of platforming going on, stemming from Lau’s ability to temporarily wall-run and glide. The platform sequences aren’t challenging, but frustrating, because neither the wall-run nor the gliding have been implemented particularly well and it takes a lot of trial-and-error to finally take Lau from one end of a chasm to the other.

It shouldn’t be all that hard, really, because none of the levels in Bujingai are big enough to feature huge platform-filled sceneries. The level design is heavily influenced by the idea of “corridor”: whether you’re in a city or in a Buddhist temple or in a freaking bamboo forest, you’ll spend the majority of your time running along corridors infested with cannon fodder enemies that don’t really try too hard to differentiate themselves. Take a break every five minutes by arriving at a big-ish room and doing some platforming (jump, double-jump, glide to your doom, try again), and well, you already know what playing Bujingai is like.

Do I recommend it? No, I can’t –the bland textures of the blocky graphics, the nondescript background-noise/music, the repetitive gameplay... It’s not a remarkable game, by any means. But it’s not that much of a waste of time, either, since all the swordfighting does have some interest for a while. I don’t regret having played it, but I doubt I’ll ever pick it up again.

Rating: 5/10

MartinG's avatar
Community review by MartinG (September 04, 2007)

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