Just a few short years ago, a little fighting game changed the way we looked at the genre forever. Bushido Blade, and it's successor Bushido Blade II, were a revolution among the fighting genre, as the games discarded all the standard fighting conventions. Doing away with life bars and other such gimmicks, the Bushido Blade series was a fresh entry into a stale market. When the first Kengo title was announced, it was billed as a 'spiritual sequel' to the Bushido Blade series, and because of that, many were disappointed to see that Kengo wasn't exactly that. Employing life bars and more enclosed stages, the first Kengo wasn't at all like the original games. With Kengo II now in development, Lightweight's focus is to build upon the first games strengths while at the same adding enough innovation to make it stand out.
Much like the first Kengo, Kengo II allows you to build your own Samurai. However, in the sequel there will be improvements, like the addition of female characters that you can choose from. When you first start out with a character, players will find them to be fairly weak and inexperienced. Most fighters will start out with only two different attack stances and precious few combos. However, through the course of the game, you can build your fighter up to become a master Samurai, with a plethora of moves, attacks, and combos. There will be over 40 characters available in the game to choose from, but most of them must be unlocked before you can use them. In fact, there will be several famous names among the list of characters, including the oar wielding Miyamoto Musashi of Ganryu Island fame. However, famous characters such as Musashi are only available in certain modes such as versus mode.
At this time, there are a total of 3 different modes to choose from. The main mode, of course, is the Career Mode, where you build up your Samurai by honing their skills in several duels. There is also a versus mode in which you can fight one on one with a friend or CPU enemy. The last mode is a new option to the Kengo series, one in which you can fight multiple enemies at once. This mode pits you against several CPU controlled foes, similar in style to hack and slash fighting games. You can auto face one opponent at a time, taking out each one with one or two well placed swipes. This mode is also presented from a more distant vantage point, giving players a wider view of the playing field, and more room to work with.
Kengo II will also receive improvements in the graphics department as well, with the addition of more cinematics and character detail. Visuals are one area in which the first Kengo lacked, but look for that to be remedied due to increased character detail and more engaging and varied backgrounds.
Kengo II is currently set for a late summer release.
7/22/2002 Ryan Hartmann