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Video Game / Budokan The Martial Spirit

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Master others, you show force. Master yourself, you show strength.

Budokan: The Martial Spirit is a 1989 video game by Electronic Arts and released for MS-DOS and the Amiga gaming platform, with ports for the Sega Genesis, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, and Amstrad CPC in 1991.

You play as an unnamed martial arts apprentice at the Tobiko-Ryu dojo, where you get to train in four styles of combat (unarmed karate, nunchaku, bo-staff, and kendo sword). You can practice on your own, or spar in a one-on-one match against the computer AI or another human opponent. Once you're confident in your fighting ability, you can participate in a tournament held at the Nippon Budokan arena, where you get pitted against a variety of opponents who use both the weapon styles you've trained in and some unique weapons of their own.

While early versions of the game didn't really provide a backstory as such, later versions would reveal that the protagonist was a criminal who was taken in by the Tobiko-Ryu sensei as a way of repaying a debt to the protagonist's father.


Tropes in this game include:

  • Ambiguous Criminal History: The game's backstory in the Sega Genesis version implies that the protagonist had a very checkered history. What's known for sure is that he grew up poor, lived on the wrong side of town, and was constantly getting into fights at the time he first met his martial arts master, Tobiko-sensei.
  • Ambiguous Gender: The ninja Ayako Maruyama is never explicitly identified as being a man or a woman. However, given that Ayako is traditionally a female name, and given the shape of Ayako's eyes in the supplied in-game character portrait (in later editions of the game), it may be assumed that the ninja is female...except that the character's in-game grunts sound just like the explicitly male characters (whereas Miyuki Hirose has her own specially-recorded vocal sounds in the Sega Genesis version).
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  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: Eiji Kimura's fighting style focuses more on attack, according to his biography. He's actually known as "the Kamikaze Kid" because of it.
  • Badass Arm-Fold: Jimmy Doran's character portrait shows him doing this.
  • Big Eater: According to his character bio, Goro Suzuki is better known for his sushi-eating ability than his karate skill. His character portrait even shows him with a plate of sushi.
  • Blade on a Stick: Miyuki Hirose utilizes a naginata, while Kazuo Sakata wields a yari.
  • Copy Protection: In early editions of the game, before you can access the dojo's courtyard, you're required to identify a family crest that is displayed on the screen, as seen here.
  • Covers Always Lie: One box cover for the game shows Kazuo Sakata preparing to swing a katana. He never actually uses one in the game proper, nor do you or anyone else use steel swords.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The protagonist tried to attack his sensei during their first meeting. According to him, the next thing he could remember was picking himself up off the ground.
  • Deserted Island: Shigeo Kawahara's biography outright states that he's spent two years on one of these islands, striving to perfect his nunchaku technique.
  • Dual Tonfas: Jimmy Doran's Weapon of Choice.
  • Epic Flail: Hiroshi Ikeda's Weapon of Choice is a kusari-gama.
  • The Faceless: Tokage's character portrait has his face covered in shadow.
  • Fighting Game: While Budokan is classified as this type of game, it came out long before Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat would emerge to set the familiar standards for future fighting games. Therefore, this game didn't allow you to select any of the Budokan tournament competitors in versus mode; instead, one player could control the player character and the other player could control a second fighter in sparring matches. It was basically similar to the setup for the original Street Fighter game.
  • Fighting with Chucks: The nunchaku is one of the weapons your player character can use. It's also used by Shigeo Kawahara and Randy Wu.
  • The Ghost: Randy Wu's sensei, Mizukami, is mentioned in the former's character biography but never makes an appearance in the game itself.
  • Girly Bruiser: Miyuki Hirose can kick your ass with a naginata while wearing a kimono.
  • Graceful Ladies Like Purple: Miyuki Hirose wears a purple kimono even while she's fighting with her naginata.
  • Heroes Fight Barehanded: Karate is one of the styles you can use. It's also used by Goro Suzuki, Arnie Gustafson, and potentially Tokage if you use this style against him.
  • Informed Attribute: The back of the game's Sega Genesis box, which includes images of some of the Budokan tournament's participants, suggests that Miyuki Hirose is a "beauty with a bad attitude." While her in-game character portrait is certainly beautiful, there's nothing to suggest that she does in fact have a bad attitude.
  • Life Meter: You get a stamina gauge that measures how many hit points you have left, as well as having a color scheme that changes the lower the gauge goes (green means you're fine, yellow indicates half-strength, and red indicates quarter-strength or less). The stronger an attack is, the more damage can be done to an opponent's stamina. However, the gauge can build back up over a period of time as long as you abstain from being hit (and the same applies to your opponent).
  • Mana Meter: You get a ki gauge that goes hand-in-hand with the Life Meter above. Performing attacks lowers this meter, but you can continually attack even if it's completely empty. Allowing the meter to build up (by refraining from attacking) will allow for the performing of stronger attacks that do more damage.
  • Martial Arts Headband: Goro Suzuki wears a red-and-white one.
  • Military Brat: Jimmy Doran was one. His biography says he was introduced to karate when his father was stationed on Okinawa.
  • Mirror Match: Tokage, the final opponent, will use the same fighting style as the player.
  • Mountain Man: Hiroshi Ikeda hails from a small mountain village, and actually has "Mountain Man" as a nickname.
  • Ninja: Ayako Maruyama is dressed in the familiar black ninja outfit from head to foot and studies an ancient form of ninjutsu.
  • Old Master: Tobiko-sensei.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: "Tokage" (written with the quotation marks in his character biography) is implied to be only a nickname. It literally means "lizard," and it's a pretty good nickname since he's also referred to as "The Chameleon" who's capable of copying his opponent's fighting style.
  • Pacifist Dojo: The Tobiko-Ryu dojo is this. Several of the wise sayings that you can learn from the dojo's master, Tobiko-sensei, illustrate this mindset.
    To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the highest skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the highest skill.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Arnie Gustafson's character portrait shows him with some flowers in one hand. He's also a karateka whose appearance is based on Arnold Schwarzenegger.
  • Red Baron: Eiji Kimura is known as "the Kamikaze Kid" because of his combat style, Hiroshi Ikeda is nicknamed "Mountain Man," and Randy Wu's sensei Mizukami was known as the infamous "White Tiger."
  • Salaryman: Tetsuo Okabe used to be one, before quitting his job to devote his life to the study of Budo.
  • Samurai: Kazuo Sakata wears red samurai armor, complete with a mask during the fight (but his face is visible on his character portrait). It's not limited to just his appearance, as his in-game profile states that he lives by the Bushido code of honor.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Miyuki Hirose's biography warns you not to be fooled by her delicate looks; after all, she's been training since she was 10.
  • Smoke Out: Ayako Maruyama utilizes smoke-bombs as part of a Teleportation technique.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Assuming Ayako Maruyama (whose gender is never explicitly specified) is in fact a man, then Miyuki Hirose is the Budokan tournament's only female participant.
  • Stock Ninja Weaponry: Ayako Maruyama uses shuriken as projectile weapons, but can also fight barehanded in melee combat.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Jimmy Doran.
  • Wooden Katanas Are Even Better: Kendo is one of the fighting styles you can use. It's also Eiji Kimura's fighting style.