In olden-times Japan or possibly China, the cupboard-dwelling undead things known as (god damn) Kyonshies have awakened and begun terrororizing the populous. Enter Master Kenchi and sidekick to save the day with really unimpressive martial arts.

     I'd expect a kung-fu excorcist like Master Kenchi to at least throw fireballs or something cool. Alas, he is limited to a spazzy punch and jerky kick, both of which seem to throw him terribly off balance as the kyonshie's counter-nudges always seem to knock him back about five feet. Still, the old guy has an attitude. Or flatulence. Regardless of whether it's for dramatic purposes or he's simply been hitting the beans, his little robe billows dramatically behind him, but only when he does battle indoors. Outdoors, he and sidekick are shortned and pixellated and must walk down the street from building to identical building to battle the undead. A blue man greets you at the gate to each town to tell you that the townsfolk are terrified but safely hiding in the kyonshie's homes, or at least that's how it was transrated. Actually, maybe a graveyard would be the safest place to hide from creatures risen from the grave. Or maybe not, maybe the undead get homesick just as easily as the living do.

     I haven't yet clarified what a 'kyonshie' is. The game's title, "Phantom Fighter," would seem to imply they are ghosts or phantoms, or maybe some other noncorporeal wraith. The odd intro animation of the wicker casket exploding (I think) followed by the corpse's eyes opening seems to say otherwise. So, I guess a kyonshie is a sort of zombie that maintains the traditional arms-forward pose while walking, but rather hops on it tiptoes to move. (EDIT: They're actually a sort of Chinese ghost or vampire. Like Hsien-ko/Lei-Lei from Darkstalkers.) It's really odd. It looks for all the world like you're battling a Buddhist M.U.S.C.L.E. man. Rather than attacking per se, it more or less bumps into you, but you can't argue with the results. While Kenchi has to time kicks to the split second to knock one of them down, a kyonshie can send him flying with a feather touch. And when you're finally dead, the kyonshie performs a celebratory dance that involves turning left and right repeatedly. God damn Kyonshies.

     Some games might be merciful at that point and send your character screaming into the pits of Hell, drive them mad, or have them eaten alive by brightly colored critters that look like onions. Unfortunately, the curse of the kyonshie only begins after death, as your weasel-like sidekick chides you. And this isn't a simple yet elegant, "You suck! Hit start to try again!" like the average gamer is used to. In fact, the continue screen dialogue seems to stretch on longer than the rest of the game's dialogue put together. "What a miserable and pathetic boss you are! I'm going out on my own to become a real martial artist!" Then Master Kenchi threatens to demonstrate an ancient ancestral fisting technique, which of course shuts up the wormy squire. The assistant, by the way, is always leaning halfway in the door while you battle the demons. Maybe he's the guy's cousin, I can't think of any good the little twerp does.

     In the off chance you beat a kyonshie, it bursts into flames and high-pitched NES audio attempts to duplicate a traditional Chinese theme, the door to the next room opens and you can have a chance to rest, get a special useless item, or more than likely face another kyonshie. I was severely pissed the first time the latter happened, especially since my opponent was a tiny green one that I had to kick. Did I mention Master Kenchi's school of fighting doesn't allow attacking while ducking? Well it doesn't.

     Ultimately, you must collect three dragon orbs to enter the cave and... well, fight more awkward battles against even cheaper Kyonshies. Ooh, ooh, I hope this is the short kind that SHOOTS FIRE. I wouldn't want to ya know, touch it or anything before I get killed.

     A wonderfully teasing moment is when you decide to try and 'use an item.' This is a little joke between the sidekick and Kenchi, as it offers you a holy sword and some talismans, but you don't actually own any of them. Ha ha ha...That nutbar. You can also visit the dojo to learn new moves after answering trivia questions THEN paying for them. Yes, you have to answer stupid Phantom Fighter trivia before having the honor of paying a bald man to teach you how to punch twice in a row. If Master Kenchi is still taking Phantom Fighting lessons, why the hell are the people of the village pinning their hopes on him? Do the fully trained Fighters not have comic relief sidekicks?

     Hsien-ko could so kick his ass.

You broke my logo, fuckhead.

God damn Kyonshies.

Kyonshies are especially deadly... IN TURBANS.

Can't you just say "WOW! YOU LOSE!" and get it over with?