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 PLATFORM: PLAYSTATION 2
FANCY-PANTS HACK N' SLASH

aisins are boring. But add a little bit of chocolate coating, and those shriveled little wads become one of our most delicious and celebrated snack foods. Though sadly inedible, Bujingai is essentially the same situation in game form; it has a mediocre action framework at its core, but the polish and flair that surround it makes for a surprisingly engaging and enjoyable play.

A unique sense of style, reminiscent of Hong Kong cinema, permeates every aspect of this title, from the slick character design to the high-flying action sequences. Swinging your swords cuts an intricate multicolored swath through your foes. Gliding through the air looks like the wirework flight featured in kung fu movies. When you complete a level, one of the categories you’re graded in is "stylized action points." No matter what you do, you do it with flair.

You don’t do it for long, though. Bujingai is short, with only seven stages and a linear "kill the enemies, go through the door" progression. This leaves no opportunity to explore alternate or branching paths, and ultimately results in little incentive to play through a second time (unless you want to see an interview with Gackt, the Japanese pop star who the game’s main character is based on).

Though Bujingai will provide some great moments for hardcore action fans, it doesn’t make great strides forward in any department. It has a simple combat system, a weak story, and a lot of repetition. However, it is also a prime example of how a little bit of polish and style can go a long way. It doesn’t sport the same array of killer moves as Ninja Gaiden or Devil May Cry, but it looks gorgeous, and has that elusive fun factor that can make an otherwise standard game stand out in the crowd.  -JOE

MATT   7

Bujingai is a great example of how expectations can trick you. If this was the next Shinobi or Devil May Cry title (two series that clearly inspired the game’s creators), I would have assailed it for lackluster game design and terribly simplistic levels. But, since this was a little sleeper that sailed under my radar, I was initially impressed that it didn’t achieve Seven Samurai 20XX levels of hack n’ slash suckiness. There are some things to like about Bujingai (like slick sword animations and cool-looking characters), but all in all this is strictly a mediocre title with illusions of making it in the big leagues. Despite its inherent flaws, this is solid action for those who don’t crave anything more.

7.25
CONCEPT:
Create a post-apocalyptic version of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
GRAPHICS:
The action looks amazing, but the enemies and environments will bore everybody
SOUND:
A traditional Japanese soundtrack helps to set the mood…for fighting!
PLAYABILITY:
All aerial controls are awkward, making precise jumps and glides impossible
ENTERTAINMENT:
Despite its ordinary elements, the look and feel will keep your blood pumping
REPLAY:
Moderate
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