Fighting games were always pretty popular on the old computers... not with me, though. I'm not very good at them, so generally speaking, I tend not to like them. There have always been exceptions... International Karate was fantastic, for instance, and some of the old arcade beat 'em ups have always appealed.
Budokan is a bit of a different beast, in that half of the game is devoted to training and learning.
This is a nice place. Now, where should I get beaten up first?
The game starts with you in the courtyard of the Tobiko-Ryu Dojo, where you will undertake your training. There are four training halls, each specialising in a different discipline. These disciplines are Karate, Kendo, Nunchaku and Bo. As you make your decision and walk towards the dojo of your choice, it's clear that you're disadvantaged right from the outset... your character doesn't half move with a limp!
Once you're in the dojo, you can choose to either practice your moves or take on a sparring partner. There's a decent selection of moves for each discipline, so practicing is a good idea at the beginning. When you've got a few moves down pat, it's time to try them on an opponent. Budokan gives you three different sparring partners, and it's worth taking them all on in turns, just to see how different opponents might come at you.
Welcome to Budokan! If you come back next Friday, there's a gig on.
Once you feel your skills are at a high enough level, you can finally travel to the fabled Budokan arena, to take part in the martial arts tournament. There, you'll fight a range of opponents, each with different skills and weapons, some of which you won't have encountered before.
Budokan has an interesting gameplay mechanic, in that you only get to use each of your disciplines a maximum of four times throughout the tournament. You can, if you wish, use kendo against a karate fighter, which is quite amusing. But that might leave you vulnerable later in the tournament. It also means that there's no point developing a favourite and sticking with it... you're going to have to mix and match your styles. It helps to keep the game a little fresher.
Hah! Know karate, do you? Well, I know stick, and now, so do you!.
At first, it seems that all that supposed depth counts for nothing, as you'll probably dispatch your first couple of opponents easily. But things soon change, and you'll find yourself eating mat on a fairly frequent basis. A problem rears its head, in that fights are quite short and loading times are not, so you end up spending more time watching and loading than actually fighting. Still, Budokan is a cut above your average early fighting game... although having said that, it's a bit like a kind of advanced Yie Ar Kung-Fu. That's no bad thing in my book.