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Budokan: The Martial Spirit

DOS - 1989

Also available on: Amiga - Amstrad CPC - Commodore 64 - Genesis - MSX - ZX Spectrum

Year 1989
Platform DOS
Released in United States (1989)
France, Germany, United Kingdom (1993)
Genre Simulation, Sports
Theme Martial Arts, Versus Fighting
Publisher Electronic Arts, Inc., Hit Squad, The
Developer Electronic Arts, Inc.
Perspective Side view
4.76 / 5 - 49 votes

Description of Budokan: The Martial Spirit

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Okay, so this may not qualify as an "underdog", since it did pretty well in stores. But I thought I'd put it here anyway, for nostalgia's sake. :)

For the uninitiated, this is one of the best fighting game ever made for the PC - featuring 4 Japanese sports. The excellent and thorough review of the Commodore 64 version at Stadium 64 says it all about why this game should be on your hard drive:

"After some neat graphics and a great little tune which sets the mood you find yourself outside the gates to the Tobiko-Ryo Dojo where, before you can enter to train under your new Sensei, you must match a crest to a list provided (less brain cells than fingers required here). A little care is needed 'cos get it wrong an' you can only practise. A courtyard lies beyond, off which are the four dojos where you train in the disciplines of Karate (chop, chop), Kendo (big stick), Bo (even bigger stick) and Nunchaku (sounds like nutcracker and best describes it).

The next thing that strikes you is the mind-numbing selection of moves available, no fewer than 29 for the Bo! Plenty of joystick bending required here (at one point the guys had to unite my fingers). In the dojo start on Jiyu-renshu, to practise the mass of wicked, bone-crunching moves alone. When satisfied with your control, move on to Kumite, the sparring section where a white-haired instructor knocks seven bucketfuls out of your unworthy hide until you get it right.

There are three instruction levels: Sankyu (easiest), Ikkyu (more difficult) and Shodan (most challenging). When sparring, your stamina and Ki bars come into play: Stamina's lost as you move or strike but mostly when you're hit. However, it can be regained by avoiding the other huy and not attacking (a bit like Chris Eubank).

Ki is the energy of the universe, the essential life force that flows through and around us (the silly notion that if you concentrate really hard you can put your head through a block of ferro-concrete). The idea's to build up Ki by not attacking and not getting hit, the more you collect, the more damage you inflict when you kick butt. Ki is lost when you wallop someone, when they wallop you and if you're pushed off the mat during a bout.

After each bout, the instructor analyses your performance, telling you if you need to improve your speed or style and how your Ki is flowing - and let me tell you mine was flowing like Niagara (my Ki, you filthy beast!). Do this for all four disciplines then toddle along to chat with Tobiko-sensei who lives in what looks like a lrage garden shed at the top of the courtyard. It's time to hunker down for some serious wisdom-getting as Tobiko tells how you probably aren't ready for the Budokan tournament but you can go if you want (how kind!).

So off you go all over the world in search of fame, fortune and a fat lip. The Budokan consists of 12 different opponents of increasing levels of difficulty who, in some cases, have moves you won't have seen, not to mention completely new fighting styles.

Such was the case with Jimmy on Level Three: blow me I thought, the little yellow fellow's got a Wok on his head. I then proceeded to get a right good wok-ing myself! Ah well, I'm off to compose great soiritual death poem... 'My life was like a bowl of rice pudding, fully rounded but over, too soon'. Not bad eh? (Get on with it pillock - Man Ed.)

There only a couple of niggles with the game. One is the faffing around changing between the two double-sided disks: quite time-consuming but not as I had at firest feared, leading to frustration, as the anticipation levels remains high throughout. The other is slow gameplay which at first made the thing look very pedestrian. However, what this really achieves is to give you time to plan and choose your attack (time well needed bearing in mind the array of moves available and the need to build up Ki). As a result it doesn't degenerate into a frenzy of joystick waggling with the sprites leaping about like the epileptic March hares.

On the whole this sums up Budokan, a game treading the fine line between frustration and anticipation and just coming down on the right side." Multiply the fun of the C64 version by 10 times, and you have this wonderful PC game that, for once, is far superior to the other versions. Make sure you know some "secret" moves before entering the tournament by downloading the moves list below. ;)

Review By HOTUD

External links

How to play Budokan: The Martial Spirit

To get past the Family Crest Identification in the game, check out this image on abandonia.

Comments and reviews

Andy Woodliffe 2024-04-05 0 point

Criminal that this game never got a sequel.
It has its flaws, but it is one of the most addictive fighting games I've ever played.

There is so many different ways of attacking, blocking and moving. Half the enjoyment is discovering new techniques.

Plus it's a bonus that you get to choose which style to fight in the tournament.

I think it would be a good idea if they remade the game but added in more fighting styles (tonfa, bokken, whips, etc.)

Nicolas 2023-10-23 1 point DOS version

When you enter the tournament, after the character enters the stadium, If you leave the animation runing for a couple of seconds, you will see GODZILLA attacking the buildings in the background!

Thulias 2023-03-20 1 point DOS version

There is an Easter eggin the game: In the main screen, where you have to select which martial art to train, head to the lower right corner of the screen, there is a tree. Once you are hidden by the tree, press B to activate a secret Arcanoid mini-game

blahblah 2019-01-02 -2 points

Rented this on Sega Genesis back in the day. If you're expecting a Street Fighter II type game.. look elsewhere. Even original Street Fighter plays easier then this.

The moves are difficult to pull off, and you shuffle around back-n-forth. It's more like a live-action strategy game then a fighting game. You need to position yourself in just the right place and then do just the right key combinations to do just the right move to hit your opponent.. who is also shuffling around trying to do the same to you.

Some of the coolest-looking moves (eg: flying roundhouse kick) are some of the hardest to pull off (key-combination-wise), and even if you do pull it off you're not guaranteed to really hit or get the result you want. So, it's often better to just use basic moves that are quicker and easier to pull off.. which sort of defeats the purpose of having advanced moves in the game.

If you like more realism, slow-pacing and strategy to your fighting games, then this is for you.

If you've ever played Wind Walker, the fighting is similar to that, but with way more moves and strategy.

Doomguy 2018-12-06 0 point DOS version

I used to have this game for my Packard Bell when i was a teenager, i got extremely good with the Kendo and the Bo Staff.

Ace1000ks1975 2016-09-04 -1 point

This game was fun, and you had a lot of different moves. You can use different types of attacks, like low punch, mid punch, high punch, low block, mid block, high block, power moves, jump, crouch, etc. It was a great martial arts game.

If you played against the computer, it wasn't a challenging game. You do need some practice to become proficient, you spar in the Dojo(Martial arts school), and you go to Budokan to win the world championship!

GadZombie 2015-11-20 -1 point Commodore 64 version

wow! C64 version looks incredible!

DH 2013-11-26 1 point DOS version

Good lord, take that 25 years back in your face, me! xD

Screwball 2013-08-14 2 points DOS version

Very addictive gameplay when you play it versus another human player.

If find it very astounding that until today I´ve found no martial arts game that atmospheric came close to that special feeling of Budokan. There must be something going wrong in modern times...

Sigit 2013-05-10 0 point DOS version

Thanks a lot. I can play it well with DOSBox.

cassava 2013-01-13 -1 point DOS version

I've downloaded it and it runs well with dosbox but I cannot access the password.

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Download Budokan: The Martial Spirit

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DOS Version

Amiga ROM

Amstrad CPC Version

Commodore 64 Version

Genesis ROM

MSX Version

DownloadSide A
CAS format Spanish; Castilian version 7 KB
DownloadSide B
CAS format Spanish; Castilian version 33 KB
DownloadSide C
CAS format Spanish; Castilian version 8 KB
DownloadSide D
CAS format Spanish; Castilian version 39 KB

ZX Spectrum Version

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