Kendo RAGE

Sometimes I forget why I do anything at all. Yes, even the mighty and aloof me have moments when I look around my room, decorated with game posters, DVDs and MechWarrior pieces and just wish I could turn back time and play sports or something. But something always seems to come along and bring back the warm fuzzies to my destructively nerdy pastimes, and today that something is the Super NES thumb-scarrer, Kendo Rage.

It really all began when I played that shitty Miracle Girls game all those years ago. It instilled in me a love of irrational, random Japanese SNES games, with their odd mix of soothing pastels and synthesized music, and horribly frustrating controls and really skewed hit detection. Kendo Rage is a game which against all odds, made it into the USA with a suitably screwy translation in the vein of the Samurai Pizza Cats. You are Jo- no, I don't care what your real name is. For the purposes of this rant-slash-review, you're not just named Jo, you ARE Jo, and you're adorable and knock-kneed and you're always late for school.

Jo lives in a remote part of the mountains, with a mere six mile commute to school every morning. She trains with the fearsome Kendo master- BOB. Who is in no way at all suspicious in his trenchcoat, or with blue skin and pointed ears. I'll let the green hair slide since it's a Japanese thing. So, again terminally late for school (4 AM is late?!), she embarks on the journey with a fetishistic golden elephant that gives her a frilly foo-foo outfit in which to fight evil. I think the icing on the cake is the implication she does this every single day, since this is her school route.

The funny thing about all the localization they pulled, is that even after turning the heroine into an American (Jo), they gave up trying to excuse the very Japanese setting by just saying she's going to school in Japan. Woo.

Basically, gameplay is as follows. Jo arrives on the stage. She makes a sarcastic quip. Jo runs around killing things. Jo gets mauled by a bear. Jo runs around some more and finds a boss. They get in a fight, Universe wins. Universe Man. Then Bob descends from the heavens to deliver a sound bite stolen from Samurai Shodown as the bus comes to take Jo to the next stage. I'd always assumed that Japan had better mass transit, though, considering even in my piddly little hometown I never have had to battle anything during transfers and layovers.

The first boss you encounter is a monster in an unflattering mascot-type Jo costume, proclaiming itself the new you. Again, these forces of evil must be pretty well acquainted with her in order to lie in ambush at the right bus stop, dressed up like her. Maybe she ought to look into getting a used car or something.

Visually, it's good but not great, and feels sort of unfinished. For instance there's a water stage where you don't have a swimming animation. You just keep jumping and jumping and every time you come down, she falls holding her skirt down like when she drops from real high. Seems like they had fanservice priorities to keep there. Anyone care to venture what sort of power up system is in place? It's a platformer where the heroine uses only a magic weapon. If you guessed 'beginning slash/stab attack, followed by various fireballs launched by attacking,' you're correct! And possibly played too many of these! I'm sorry. Let's go drink and forget about it all a while.

Jo has many hit animations. Apparently her being hit and killed was very important to the developers. She gets a standard knockback, an SD flail, and when she dies an SD-flail croak fadeout thing. And when her final life goes down the can, the elephant thingy forsakes her and leaves her as normal-Jo to be beaten and mauled further.

Bears HATE you. That Perfect Hair Forever anime parody thing on Space Ghost was on the money with that one. And if you missed that cartoon, don't worry. There are many exotic drugs available in your own home town to reproduce the bewildering, "Did that really happen???" sensation said cartoon instills in lab rats and people alike. But yeah. Bears fucking hate magic girls. They pop out of bushes and snow drifts to swipe at her. They're much more ruthless and brutal than even many of the bosses in their hate of Jo, and frankly I was sorely let down that there were no SCUBA Bears in the water level. The karaoke men in the snow stage are amog my favorite enemies for no real reason other than... they ARE men in suits... singing karaoke... in five foot drifts. And apparently so into it you suffer grievous injury from bumping against one. This again calls attention to the fact that to remain identifiably 'hot,' Jo is about twice as tall as most enemies. Fair enough. Bear in mind though that the game occurs in a left-to-right, horizontal scrolling pattern, with enemies predominantly moving on the X-axis (also horizontally.) This means you're basically a tennis net in a tutu, and the enemies are tennis balls being served by someone who thinks they're the next Serena Williams. Or Venus. Which one sucked less?

So what else is there to say about this thing? I think I saw it on Nick Arcade or something once, which I'm sure is worth a few raving, nostalgia fueled paragraphs on its own, but I'm tired and sort of losing my steam for this bit now. Maybe I should take a walk down to the Rite-Aid for some caff-

BOB: You must now embark on a quest against evil. You have thirty minutes to walk across the overpass, battle a horde of ninja, your old principal, and a robot killer you, then give correct change to the cashier, since she's out of quarters.

Really, that's a bit much, I think I'll settle on water.

BOB: Don't forget your training! Repeat the drill with me one more time!

(wearily) X,Y,A,B, X, Y, A, B.

BOB: Good luck and godspeed. Jerk.



Jo battles another magical girl in a no holds barred stock footage death match. PAY PER VIEW!

Not since Konami in the mid 90's have we had enemy names this corny. There's also a steel girder named Bob the Beam.

Uh, forget what I said at left about the no sperm thing. Damn.

The Part where I Go On about Shit: Kendo Rage's original Japanese title was Makurena! MaKendo! which loosely means Unbeatable Magic Kendo girl. Aside from Jo being named Mai, there aren't really any other Stupid American Tricks to report on this one. It was probably pretty stupid to begin with.

It seems pretty likely that this was intended as a Parodiozation of the Valis series, except it didn't really take.

(Kendo Rage Stage Select code is at the bottom of the article. Most useless extra ever!)