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Video Game / Genpei Tōma Den

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Genpei Tōma Den (源平討魔伝) is a Japanese game series taking place after the Genpei War. One of the samurai killed in the war, Taira no Kagekiyo,note  is brought back from the dead as a wraith in order to get his vengeance. He slashes his way through the living, dead, and undead to finally defeat Minamoto no Yoritomo, who has Japan tossed in disarray and chaos upon laying claim to demonic powers.

There were three games in the series:

  • Genpei Tōma Den (1986), which got a North American release (as "The Genji and the Heike Clans") when it was included in Namco Museum Vol.4. It was also re-released in October of 2021 as a part of Hamster's Arcade Archives series for Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4.
  • Genpei Tōma Den: Computer Board Game (1988) - The same story, except in an RPG format.
  • Genpei Tōma Den: Kan no Ni (源平討魔伝 巻ノ弐) (1992) - The same story, except as a standalone Expansion Pack focusing on the side-scrolling "big" mode, and with more boss fights. It was released in North America as "Samurai Ghost".

There is also a fanmade fighting game available here.

The game was also adapted as a web manga hosted by ShiftyLook under the name Scar.

Nowadays, the series is mainly known for contributing Taira no Kagekiyo to Namco × Capcom, where he joined many other obscure Namco characters, as well as his appearance in Namco High.

See also Mirai Ninja, a game with a similar concept and setting.

This game series provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Heroism: Taira no Kagekiyo in Kan no Ni is not only given a chance to get revenge, but is tasked by the heavens to slay Minamoto no Yoritomo to halt his reign of evil. He still must go through hell to test his might before going through to the mortal realm, however.
  • Advancing Wall of Doom: One of these appears in Kan no Ni, in the form of a wall of lava that is being spewed out by a volcano in the background.
  • Animal Motifs: Kiso no Yoshinaka is associated with bulls, while Onihime seems to be made of butterflies.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Onihime was originally a common enemy in the top-down-view levels. She was promoted to a boss in Kan no Ni.
    • The Humongous Mecha was originally an uncommon enemy in the side-view "small" mode levels, but was also promoted to boss in Kan no Ni.
  • Asian Fox Spirit: Nine-tailed foxes appear as normal enemies.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: When Kiso no Yoshinaka is defeated, he turns his sword on himself while screaming "Mugen!"
  • Bonus Stage: All games have bonus stages that allow players to collect items that come in handy for the upcoming levels. In Kan no Ni, the Buddha himself is Flying on a Cloud to drop items for Kagekiyo to use.
  • Boss Rush: Kan no Ni has one, leading to the final boss.
  • Carry a Big Stick: Benkei originaly carried a spiked ball and would hurl it in his first few boss fights. But in his later boss fights, he attaches the spiked ball onto a large pole to make it into a long mace that he spins around for his attacks.
  • Covers Always Lie: The title screen shows Taira no Kagekiyo with a katana, whereas in the side-view "big" mode he clearly uses a straight sword. The reason for this is probably to make Kagekiyo's sword swinging animations more visible on screen, so they had to make it into a larger straight sword. However, the promo videos and the ending in Kan no Ni do portray Kagekiyo fighting with a katana.
  • Dem Bones: As usual for the genre, there are enemy skeletons. One skeleton with a greatsword appears as a boss in Kan no Ni.
  • Depending on the Artist: Taira no Kagekiyo is described to be wearing a mask, and is shown as such in the live action promos, in the animated promo and in Namco × Capcom however, the mask design is instead part of his face as makeup.
  • Developer's Room: There are several bonus stages where the developers make an appearance.
  • Evil Counterpart: Kiso no Yoshinaka has almost the exact same moves as Taira no Kagekiyo. The fan game represents this by having them be the Ryu and Ken types.
  • Evil Laugh: Minamoto no Yoshitsune laughs and screams a lot. There's also the creepy laugh of Andaba, the witch who guides Taira no Kagekiyo.
  • Fangs Are Evil: Subverted, Kagekiyo has sharp fangs as part of being a wraith, but he's the hero of the story and is fighting against the corrupted villains.
  • The Hero Dies: Well Taira no Kagekiyo is already dead to begin with, but after slaying Minamoto no Yoritomo, his body dissolves into sakura petals and his soul returns to hell.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: The Minamoto clan is usually portrayed as the heroic warriors in history, but in this game, they're the demonic villains. Well, the Taira clan and in particular Kagekiyo are also demonic over here, but they're the good guys.
  • Humongous Mecha: The big samurai-helmeted robot.
  • Macguffin: The three talismans of Japanese myth (the Jewel, Sword, and Mirror), which Kagekiyo has to gather before he can kill Yoritomo.
  • Magic Music: The magical biwa player summons creatures and the shapes of creatures with his music.
  • Market-Based Title:
    • Kan no Ni was renamed Samurai Ghost in North America.
    • When the original arcade game was included in Namco Museum Vol. 4, it was renamed The Genji and the Heike Clans in North America.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: These ones shriek in a really high-pitched voice.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: In the animated segments of the promo, Kagekiyo's eyes glow red when showing his rage towards the villains.
  • Resurrection Revenge: The reason why Taira no Kagekiyo made a Deal with the Devil to come back as a wraith.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Taira no Kagekiyo is going on one despite being dead.
  • Samurai: Taira no Kagekiyo, Minamoto no Yoshitsune, and Kiso no Yoshinaka were samurai warriors in their human incarnations and continue to done their samurai armor and weapons in their current appearances.
  • Scenery Porn & Scenery Gorn: The first and third games pushed their systems to their limits with regard to scenery, and presented the game with a maki-e art style interface that would predate even Ōkami. Kan no Ni in particular has scenes such as ethereal realms full of floating candles, gigantic mountains with some mystical symbol on them, etc.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The path to the final boss in Kan no Ni requires breaking the ropes that seal the bosses you have already defeated earlier, thus causing the Boss Rush afterwards.
  • Shock and Awe: Raijin and Fuujin, the gods of lightning and thunder, appear as bosses in Kan no Ni.
  • Shoulders of Doom: Kagekiyo's shoulder armor pieces are very large and wide.
  • SNK Boss: Sure enough, the fan game has a superpowered version of Minamoto no Yoritomo as the final boss.
  • Special Attack: In Kan no Ni, there are three treasures that Kagekiyo can collect and these treasures give him three unique special attacks consisting of a Sword Beam, Spin Attack, and Weapon Twirling. Some of the bosses also have some of their own special attacks like Minamoto Yoshitsune having his own Spin Attack and Benkei with his Weapon Twirling.
  • Tiger Versus Dragon: Both of them appear as enemies; dragons in the small side scrolling mode, while tigers in the big side scrolling mode. It appears the world is so out of balance, they've begun to fight you instead.
  • The Unfought: The magical biwa player is not killable in the original, although he becomes a boss in Kan no Ni.