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Video Game / Kinniku Banzuke: Kongou-Kun no Daibouken!

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Kinniku Banzuke: Kongou-Kun no Daibouken! is a Japan-exclusive Sports game developed by KCE Studios and published by Konami for the Game Boy Advance in 2001. It is based on the Unbeatable Banzuke sports show Ninja Warrior is derived from.

The game is made up of 7 reflex-based challenge minigames based on athletics competitions, like in Konami's own Track & Field series. Those are wrapped up in a story about Kongou, a young athlete training to find his missing father and defeat Dark Muscle, a demon overlord from another world.

Also released by Konami in the same year for the GBA was Kinniku Banzuke Kimero! Kiseki no Kanzen Seiha, which like the previous Kinniku Banzuke GB games was a straight adaptation of the Ninja Warrior show and its four obstacle courses.

A three episodes long anime by Studio Pierrot was also released four days after the game on July 30, 2001. While it retains the extreme sports premise and some of same characters, its different plot has Kongou and friends being invited to a competition hosted by Dark Muscle on a remote island.

Kongou-kun's Great Adventure features the following great tropes:

    The Game 
  • Adapted Out: Out of 4 SASUKE stages only the final one, Spider and Rope Climb, is featured in the game.
  • Advertised Extra: The game's boxart features Kane Kosugi, who is based on the real life actor of the same name. The boy is an optional playable character that doesn't do much other than tagging along with Kongou. He does have a secret route where he becomes the protagonist while Kongou journeys offscreen and this leads to a better ending than the normal one, but it is also a short Excuse Plot with no dialogue from Kane even compared to his standard role in the game.
  • Another Side, Another Story: If you unlock Kane's route, he decides to look after Kongou's mother and find a cure for her illness while Kongou goes on with his journey offscreen. On the other hand, if you play normally as Kongou with Kane tagging along, Kane never comes up with that idea and does nothing special in the story other than handing out a Continue Pendant even after Kongou enters Dark Muscle's world.
  • As Himself:
    • Kane Kosugi, an actor also known for challenging Unbeatable Banzuke and SASUKE several times, appears as a (much younger) playable character in the game. He also appeared in other games in the series at the time, complete with an impersonator called Nise-Kane.
    • Gymnast Iketani Naoki plays a villain role as the leader of Muscle Society.
  • Ascended Extra: Kongou is the Series Mascot of the Unbeatable Banzuke show, but in previous games he was just an unlockable character without any backstory.
  • Big Bad: King Dark Muscle, the demonic overlord of an alternate dimension.
  • Bookends: Struck Out is the first and final challenge in the game.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: After you meet a group of jolly rival kids named Randoru, Jyogi, Pencil and Taziki, the Big Bad brainwashes them into crazy blank-eyed lackeys. On top of that they get turned into animals after the hero defeats them.
  • Disappeared Dad: The protagonist's father, Gantetsu, went off to fight King Dark Muscle and never returned. The protagonist finds him by the villain's doorstep at the end of the story.
  • Epic Fail: It's possible to crash face-first into the titular Monster Box either by messing up the angle of your jump after hopping on the trampoline or by missing the trampoline altogether.
  • Fake Longevity:
    • Stages after the first third of the game introduce environmental hazards that make tasks only vaguely possible as demonstrated by tool-assisted speedruns. To nullify those hazards, which makes the stages play the exact same as the normal ones, you must buy a few of 4 types of gem items. They cost a currency you can only get by playing the challenges at the dojo over and over and offer no general benefits.
    • To clear Kane's story route you just need to clear Struck Out Bingo 5 times with higher plate requirements every time. It's still a very demanding task and for every attempt you'll need to grind money to buy multiple gems requested by a mountain hermit as food ingredients before he'll allow the boy to attempt each challenge. The needed gems are different every time as if it added depth, when in truth they're all obtained the same way for 30 money each.
  • Game Over: Normally you'll get kicked back to the title screen if you lose at any point during the final gauntlet of the story. But if you befriend Kane and set records on the Dojo, he gives you a special trinket that grants infinite continues.
  • Game-Over Man: Kane, should you befriend him, encourages you to try again if you lose during the final part of the story.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • There's a bonus room in the game that asks for passwords that came with a trading card bundled with Kinniku Banzuke GB3. Thanks to the game's obscurity, those were only listed online in 2022. Some of those passwords unlock in-game hints about either the gameplay or the secret events involving Kane.
    • It is possible to befriend Kane and play as him by talking to him in a sequence of places once he shows up. If he's rejected on the last meeting, he disappears from the game instead. He only makes the continue function available at the final gauntlet if you made some high score on the Dojo (such as 14m on Shotgun Touch), but there's more: if you happen to clear the 4 initial elemental challenges as Kane in Sasuke's Mountain the plot switches to his viewpoint and leads into a Struck Out Bingo challenge and an unique ending where he heals Kongou-kun's sickly mother.
  • Heroic Build: Kongou-kun, his father Gantetsu and the other Kongou variants except the thin and fat ones are all shredded. The anime in particular has various closeups of the boy's muscular physique whenever he's exercising.
  • Heroic Mime: Subverted. The protagonist speaks very little throughout the game, but he does speak. In fact, it is right before the route where he passes the Player Character role to Kane that Kongou-kun speaks a full line, complete with a screen-filling portrait for him.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Struck Out is about Baseball pitching, Kick Target is about Soccer goal targetting and Nine Hoops likewise is to prove you can slam with the best. Those challenges have different inputs and will eventually require you to hit every single target available.
  • In a Single Bound: In the Monster Box challenge you must leap over a tall stack of plates. Towards the end of the game, you must leap over stacks of 50 and 100 plates. This is only possible if you equip a Wind Gem beforehand to make use of the fan gimmick in the area.
  • Marathon Level: The final area. 9 very demanding challenges in a row without being able to save.
  • Multiple Endings: The game normally ends with Kongou and his father coming back from the underworld and reuniting with Kongou's sickly mother. However, it is possible to unlock a story branch focused on Kane, where he earns medicine for Kongou's mom until she's healthy. An alternate ending plays where the heroes shake hands after Kongou and his father arrive.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Towards the end, Kongou fights demons by pitching baseballs, kicking soccer balls and tossing basketballs. All in a very ordinary way while the enemy just sits there.
  • Nintendo Hard: More like Nintendo Next-to-Impossible. "Some Dexterity Required" doesn't begin to cover the level of Super-Reflexes and Smashing Survival skills you need to clear the game without wanting to throw your GBA out of the window.
  • Permanently Missable Content: Kane will disappear from the story either if you completely ignore him on Sasuke's Mountain or get him to appear at the Dojo just to repeatedly reject him. Without him you can't unlock the pendant that lets you continue after losing in any of the inhumanly difficult final 9 challenges of the main route, so don't let that happen.
  • Point of No Return:
    • Once you enter the underworld, you cannot go back and you cannot save. For a string of 9 bloody hard minigames...
    • If you unlock Kane's story route, it becomes impossible to play as Kongou-kun again because he leaves for the demon world.
  • Previous Player-Character Cameo: Played with. In previous games Kongou is presented as either a realistic muscular man or as a chibi kid. This game features both versions as a father named Gantetsu and a son named Kongou.
  • Sequential Boss: The last 9 challenges must be cleared in one sitting. The final three in particular must be conquered back-to-back.
  • Some Dexterity Required:
    • Playing Struck Out involves pressing the A button when the back-and-forth strength bar is on the value you desire. This triggers the accuracy gauge and you must then release the A button at just the right time or the pitch will stray from the target. Kick Target works similarly, but now you must press L and R to determine vertical and horizontal aim and then hold and release both at the same time juuuuust right to ensure the ball will knock a plate off. Nine Hoops and the running challenges are somewhat easy by comparison.
    • The Spider And Rope Climbing challenge at the end, oh God. In the first part you have to press L and R at the same time, hold them for just the right amount of time, release both at the same time and then repeat it several dozens more. Once you get to the rope, you have to tap L and R alternately at break-neck speeds. The icing in the cake is that those inputs are different from the (just as complicated) ones on the other GBA Kinniku Banzuke game released in the same year.
  • Story Branching: If you clear the first four Sasuke's Mountain challenges as Kane, the story's perspective changes to him as he's tasked with looking after Kongou's mother while the boy is off at the demon world.
  • Take Over the World: Dark Muscle plans to take over the human world like he did to the Kongou Realm.
  • Timed Mission: On the final boss fight, you get 60 seconds to hit his first form 8 times and 30 to hit his second form 6 times. You can only miss once.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: Towards the end of the game an unique challenge is presented: the wall-and-rope climbing tower from the SASUKE/Ninja Warrior show.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: On Kane's scenario, the main plot happens offscreen until Kongou and Gantetsu just show up in the very end. The rival children are written out of the plot in this take, not even appearing to attack Kongou's mother for her magatama jewel like they do on the normal story route.

    The Anime 
  • Adaptational Badass: Unlike in the GBA game, Kongou is able to clear a 52-plate Monster Box under his own power.
  • Adaptation Species Change: In the game, King Dark Muscle is a demon overlord from another world who can remotely brainwash Randoru and his friends. In this series, he clearly is just a masked human with a mundane past who works with technology. His fallen mask vanishes like magic in the very end, implying he either is or becomes a demon and the story was a prequel but the details don't really add up.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Kane and Naoki do not exist in this version. Kongou's parents are also never mentioned.
    • The Shotgun Touch challenge appears in the GBA game but is only mentioned in this version. The SASUKE courses are mostly absent, with Monster Box getting top billing as the final challenge to the heroes. Mostly absent because to escape from the crumbling Stadium and Outrun the Fireball, Kongou and Randoru lift a giant blast door out of the way. This obstacle is based on SASUKE's Stage 2.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Sasuke, Habato and Yuka are all minor characters in the GBA game. The first two do nothing of note and while Yuka is the opponent in Beach Flags you never need to interact with her. In this series, they all cooperate with Kongou full-time and get a few good scenes to themselves.
    • Compared to their minor brainwashed appearance in the game, in this series Randoru, Jyogi, Pencil and Taziki appear as main antagonists with a character development arc.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Habato is said to be Kongou's most perceptive friend and is the one who notices a hidden air duct disrupting the team's pitches during the last Struck Out match.
  • Bait-and-Switch: While everyone is concerned about Kongou and Randoru's survival after the destruction of Muscle Stadium, the first one to come out of the rubble is... the sports announcer.
  • Child Soldier: The four Team Dark Muscle kids were raised by the evil Dark Muscle as super athletes on some kind of institution. It is implied but not outright stated that all the other children involved died during training.
  • Cool Gate: Before Kongou gets to Muscle Stadium, he's required to open a skyscraper-sized double door under his own power, which he does with ease.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Jyogi knocks one of Team Macho's members into a Bottomless Pit with his first Struck Out pitch, revealing the deadly nature of the competition. All the remaining musclemen promptly give up in the face of this.
    • When Team Kongou participates in Struck Out, they perform perfectly and we do not even see their opponents' actions until Team Dark Muscle comes up.
    • Sasuke fails to faze Taziki at all during a tug of war match.
  • Deadly Game: Dark Muscle changes the Muscle Stadium's challenges into gimmicky death matches between groups of four. The announcer initially protests to this but is quickly intimidated by security guards into carrying on. Interestingly, after a single man falls into a bottomless pit during the first Struck Out match to show how high the stakes are, nobody else actually dies. In fact, the only deadly games shown were just that and the Power Force match between Team Kongou and Team Dark Muscle over a field of spikes.
  • Defeat Equals Friendship: The good guys influence Team Dark Muscle into playing fair and after beating them in Monster Box and escaping from the stadium everyone becomes friends.
  • Designated Girl Fight: When team Kongou first takes on Power Force, a tug of war, Yuka is paired against a man but is conveniently left offscreen the whole time. She's only seen performing on the next match, against Team Dark Muscle's Pencil.
  • Down to the Last Play: The Monster Box challenge ends with Kongou as the only remaining competitor but he must jump over a stack of 52 plates to overcome Team Dark Muscle's score. He succeeds.
  • Elite Four: Randoru, Jyogi, Pencil and Taziki are smug kid athletes who work for Dark Muscle and are the main threat in the story.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Team Dark Muscle weren't aware of the air duct trap used against Team Kongou during the Struck Out match but afterwards they do start using tools under Dark Muscle's orders to cheat on Power Force. However, Kongou influences Randoru into competing fairly during Monster Box and both Pencil and Taziki follow his wish. Jyogi also relents after realizing how much fun his partners were having despite failing the challenge.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Both Kongou and Randoru show no fear when faced with certain death, but thankfully they are spared by their opponents.
  • Fallen Hero: Dark Muscle rants about how he used to be a famous athlete but fell into disgrace after a single loss and now seeks to control sports and win at all costs.
  • Gratuitous English:
    • The Struck Out Baseball pitching challenge is mispelled as "Struch Out".
    • Team Tornado speaks some English with a Japanese accent.
  • Honor Before Reason: After learning that the villains are using spiked shoes for an advantage in a tug of war match, Kongou still makes a point of defeating Randoru with his own two legs as if nothing's wrong. Randoru is touched by this and stops cheating on the next challenge, with his team following suit to compete for fun even if they end up losing.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: After Jyogi makes the opening pitch on Struck Out, it is revealed he did it over an unstable platform without it shaking at all. Sasuke bypasses having to worry about this by making a pitch in midair and still knocking the middle plate on the set off. The rest of the team follows by hitting two plates at once whenever possible.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Kongou only wears a fundoshi and it is pulled off by Taziki, leading to Yuka punching poor Kongou for no reason while covering her eyes.
  • No, I Am Behind You: The rival children introduce themselves by tossing a bunch of baseballs into a wall and barely missing Kongou and company. When the hero complains, they rush across the group and take both Yuka's headband and Kongou's fundoshi in the blink of an eye.
  • Not Worth Killing: When Yuka causes her team to lose against Team Dark Muscle in Struck Out, Kongou just sits down and dares the villains to hit the last plate and collapse their whole platform. Jyogi instead misses on purpose, stating he won't let them die so easily.
  • Save the Villain: Yuka and Kongou prevent Pencil and Randoru from falling into Spikes of Doom after beating them in a tug of war. In contrast, the villainous Taziki previously left Sasuke to die and the boy only survived by pulling a grappling hook claw from out of nowhere.
  • Stealth Prequel: The anime seems set in its own continuity with no mentions of Kongou's family or anything supernatural about Dark Muscle until the very final shot where his mask fades away in a mystical way and he says it's not over yet. This insinuates the series was a prequel to the game the whole time despite several contradictions.
  • Supervillain Lair: Dark Muscle's castle with the Spider-and-Rope-Climb tower is seen when the Four Emperors are reporting to him in the throne room, but only for that scene as the tournament takes place on a remote island. It is never specified if the castle is located in another dimension like in the game.
  • To Be a Master: Kongou and his friends aim to be the greatest athletes in the world.
  • The Unfought: Dark Muscle is never confronted and escapes after self-destructing Muscle Stadium.
  • We Will Meet Again: The story ends on a shot of Dark Muscle's mask lying on the ground before it fades away, with him stating it's not over yet.

Alternative Title(s): Kinniku Banzuke Kongou Kun No Daibouken