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Video Game / Power Instinct

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Known in Japan as Gōketsuji Ichizoku ("Gōketsuji Clan"), Power Instinct is a Fighting Game series by Atlus. Essentially a parody of the fighting game genre at the time (the series begin in The '90s, at the rise of Street Fighter II's fame) it eventually evolved into its own silly series. The plot focuses on the Gōketsuji family who usually hold a tournament every few years to decide their leader. No real stakes beyond that front and all the members are as quirky as they come.

The games in this series are the following:

  • Power Instinct / Gōketsuji Ichizoku (1993; Arcade/Genesis/SNES)
  • Power Instinct 2 / Gōketsuji Ichizoku 2 (1994; Arcade/PlayStationnote )
  • Gogetsuji Legendsnote  / Gōketsuji Gaiden: Saikyou Densetsu (1995; Arcade)
  • Groove on Fight / Gōketsuji Ichizoku 3: Groove on Fight (1997; Arcade/Saturn)
  • Matrimelee note  / Shin Gōketsuji Ichizoku: Toukon Matrimelee (2002; Arcade/Neo-Geo)
  • Shin Gōketsuji Ichizoku: Bonnou no Kaihou (2006; PlayStation 2)
  • Gōketsuji Ichizoku Matsuri Senzo Kuyounote  (2009; Arcade)

The series also produced two Spin-Off: Purikura Daisakusen, an Isometric Action Game released for arcade and Sega Saturn in 1996, and CR Goketsuji Ichizoku, a card-reader pachinko game in 2010.

This series features examples of:

  • All for Nothing: Otane lampshades this in part 2 when beaten. Stating she was kidnapped by Oume's vassals, thrown into the sea and barely managed to make it back before the winner of the tournament was crowned leader of the clan. Only for her efforts to come to naught after she was defeated.
  • Answer Song: Reiji's theme, Otoko no Karate Michi, is about how he became strong by following a thorny path and training endlessly. Rin's theme, Otome no Karate Do, starts with how the thorny path can screw off as she wants to be strong while also enjoying the schoolgirl life.
  • "Arabian Nights" Days: Saham Asram Ryuto is an Arab Oil Sheikh who lives in a modern version of "Arabian Nights" as seen in his stage in the second game, also having a Genie in a Bottle who helps him in fights.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Almost all fighters in the series are members of the Goketsuji clan. The Goketsuji clan favors strength over anything else. Every 5 years the clan holds a tournament, whose winner will be the leader of the clan until the next tournament. This leads to a bunch of rivalries among the clan members, most prominently between Oume and Otane.
  • The Clan: The Goketsuji family, of course, which has spread all over the world. The Japanese Reiji, American Keith, British Annie, Arabian Ryuto, and almost all other characters are members of the clan. Being a member of the clan is also the prerequisite to enter the Goketsuji tournament, no matter how distantly related you are to the main branch.
  • Crossover: The guest fighters from Rage of the Dragons appeared in Matrimelee. On the other hand, Kurara appeared in a Virtua Fighter-esque Play Station game, Heaven's Gate, while the song Let's Go! Onmyouji (and its corresponding stage) appeared in OnTaMaRaMa.
  • Cutting Off the Branches: Canonically, Otane Goketsuji is the winner of the first game and Kanji Kokuin the winner of the second.
  • Darker and Edgier: Groove on Fight attempted this, removing the sillier elements and what not for a more gritter tone. It didn't go over well with the fans. So when Matrimelee came around, it returned back to its usual wacky tone.
  • Decomposite Character: In Legends, Super Clara and Poochy are playable as their own characters, as opposed to being the transformations for Clara and Kinta, respectively.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Prince first appeared in Matrimelee and Bonnou no Kaihou in some endings to be later a proper character in Matsuri Senzo Kuyou.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The first game is missing several series staples that are introduced in the second game, such as the BGM performers in the background, the face doodles on the losers, and the lack of Stress Meter and Stress Shots.
  • Energy Absorption: Otane, Oume, Elizabeth, and Sandra have grabs where they absorb life energy from enemies in order to transform into their younger selves.
  • Expressive Health Bar: The arcade versions of the first games before Groove on Fight have the character's side face with the health bar, which changes from normal to being-hit animation when you were hit by the opponent. This got more dramatic in the first game, where the portrait's backgrounds also change of colors from blue to red when you got hit and the character's face got more agitated when the health bar is low.
  • Face Doodling: A stable of the series in the win-lose portraits after a fight. With the loser getting their face scribbled on.
  • Final Boss: Each game in this series has one:
    • Power Instinct: Oume Goketsuji
    • Power Instinct 2: Otane Goketsuji
    • Gogetsuji Legends: Chuck
    • Groove On Fight: Bristol-Dnote 
    • Matrimelee: Princess Sissy
    • Bonnou no Kaihou: Bobby Strong
    • Matsuri Senzo Kuyou: Shinjuro Goketsuji
  • Full-Frontal Assault: True to his namesake, Kintaro fights wearing only a full-body bib, which has the side effect of leaving his genitals visible in some attacks. It's that kind of a game.
  • Funny Background Event: Several in Matrimelee, because of the Source Music tendency of the series and the songs themselves having funny lyrics themselves.
    • When Bokura no Himitsu is playing, the aliens are singing about how they came just to play and not to experiment on humans. In the background there's a screen showing the aliens experimenting on a boy.
    • In the middle of Chiisana Shiawase, the singer lets out a big "YAMETEEEEE" scream. While this is funny in itself, in the stage you can see the singer's own anguished expressions.
    • The song Shinobi Ai Goketsuji is about a man and a woman who are in love in each other but has to fight each other in the Goketsuji tournament. During some parts of the song, the singers are actually hitting each other. In the international version where the song isn't used, the developers have the singers keep fighting all the time.
  • Kid Appeal Characters: This series is one of the few ones with children as part of almost all titles of the franchise: Kintaro Kokuin and Kurara Hananokōji in Power Instinct 2, Popura Hananokōji note  and Remi Otogiri in Groove on Fight, Princess Sissy in Matrimelee, and Takumi Hattori and Rin Oyama in Matsuri Senzo Kuyou.
  • Kissing Cousins: Until Groove On Fight the playable characters were all members of the Goketsuji family and some of them were depicted together as couples (such as Keith and Annie, who even have a son in that same game) and others such as Thin Nen show no qualms at flirting with opposite sex opponents even when they're presumably relatives of theirs. The game is vague on how related the cast members are to each-other.
  • Left the Background Music On: One of the defining features of the series is that many of the stages have characters in the background actually singing or dancing along with the music. (Though Groove On Fight is the only one in the series that omitted them. And the International releases of Matrimelee omitted the songs since they were under a record label. Necessitating some background changes as well).
  • Limit Break: A few characters in Matrimelee and up had a level 3 Forbidden super move.
  • Limited Lyrics Song: Angela's theme in the second game, Give Me Money, has 90% of its lyrics composed of "give me money!". It's remixed in Matsuri Senzo Kuyou as Mottainai, which, again, has a majority of its lyrics composed of "mottainai".
  • Lyrical Dissonance:
    • Binbou Ningen Kanenaijaa from Matrimelee is an upbeat, catchy song that wouldn't sound out of place in a super sentai or super robot anime. It's actually about a middle aged man who just got laid off from his company.
    • Kintaro's theme in Matsuri Senzo Kuyou (a remix of his theme in the second game), is a cheerful children song about aliens who love war and violence and is planning to attack humans.
  • Mana Meter:
    • Introduced in Power Instinct 2. Getting hit or striking a blocking opponent builds this up.
    • Groove on Fight introduced multiple levels of the meter, which shows up in later games.
  • Melancholy Musical Number: The song Chiisana Shiawase from Matrimelee is a slow, sad song about...french fries. Apparently, having the waitress clean up your dish before you finish the fries is a Serious Business to the singer.
  • Oddball in the Series: Groove on Fight, which has notably bleaker tone than the colorful backgrounds of the other games. It also throws out all the series regulars save Oume and Otane, and puts in completely new characters in their stead. It's also the only game along with Matrimelee not to have character transformations, but at least Matrimelee has the other series standards.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Prince. No other name is provided.
  • Only One Name: There're various characters in the franchise that are only known for just one name: Kuroko, Chuck, Falco, M.A.D. (subverted; his name is Max Ax Dax) and Marutanote .
    • A game example is Matrimelee, which is the name more known for this title, especially between Neo Geo fans who don't know about the series or previous titles.
  • Spell My Name With An S. Inconsistent spelling all the way during the series:
    • Oshima is spelled Osima in Power Instinct 2.
    • Gogetsuji instead Goketsuji in Legends's game name.
    • Look what Matrimelee did to some of the characters' names:
      • Annie -> Anny
      • Kurara -> Clara
      • Kuroko (non-player character)  -> Enabler
      • Otane Gōketsuji -> Tane
      • Oume Gōketsuji -> Ume (these two make sense, since the initial "O" in women's names is sometimes used as a sort of honorific)
      • Thin Nen -> Chinnen
    • Bonnou no Kaihou is also known as Bonnou Kaihou.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: The song Bokura no Himitsu in Matrimelee is sung by aliens who insist they come in peace only to play, and they are not there to do experiments, kidnap, erase memories, or anything like that whatsoever.
  • Tag Team: In Power Instinct Legends (1995) and Groove On Fight (1997), you fight in teams of two.
  • Taunt Button: Matrimelee introduced a button that serves no tangible gameplay function, but is included for atmosphere. In case both players taunt at the same time, they must proceed to a "Bloodline Battle", where they'll press a correct button to respect each other until either fighter makes the wrong move.
  • Tournament Arc: The story of each game revolves around a tournament:
    • Power Instinct: It's latest iteration of the every-5-year tournament of the Goketsuji family to determine the clan's head.
    • Power Instinct 2: Oume hatched a plan to get rid of the last tournament's winner, Otane, to launch another leadership tournament early.
    • Legends: Kanji Kokuin (canonical winner of the second game) threw a tournament, this time just for fun.
    • Groove on Fight: Another latest iteration of the Goketsuji tournament, set in the Distant Finale.
    • Matrimelee: The King of Certain Country holds a tournament to find a husband for Princess Sissy.
    • Bonnou Kaihou: The King of Certain Country holds another tournament, this time to cheer up Sissy.
    • Matsuri Senzo Kuyou: It's time for the Senzou Kuyou (commemmoration of ancients) festival, and Oume held another festival, promising the winner to meet with the Physical God of the family.
  • Transformation Trinkets: Shown in the Gogetsuji Legends intro are Clara's wand and Kinta's bib, which respectively turn them into Super Clara and Poochy.
  • Unseen No More: Belti sisters, Elizabeth and Sandra, are rivals of Goketsuji sisters since decades and only they were mentioned in the backstory of the first game, being represented by Sandra's granddaughter Angela Belti. Finally both sisters appeared as selectable characters for the last game of the franchise, Matsuri Senzo Kuyou, being effectively foils for the Goketsuji, both being Western witches compared to Oume and Otane's evil Yamato Nadeshiko.
  • You Don't Look Like You: Various classic characters get a complete new look for Matrimelee and onwards, mostly Keith and Annie. Saizo is a special case, who just only takes off his famous helmet.

Purikura Daisakusen, the Run-and-Gun-esque spin-off, contain examples of:

  • Alliterative Family: The Apricot sisters, Kurara Apricot, Kirara Apricot and Urara Apricot.
  • Animorphism: The Apricot sisters' projectile attacks, many which turns enemies into animals instead of destroying them outright. The transformed onscreen enemies can even be collected for points.
  • Artificial Stupidity: It's either a programming flaw, or deliberately coded since your enemies are "mindless" robots...
    • When facing enemies in narrow bridges and railings, expect enemy robots to randomly walk off the sides and falling to their deaths.
    • The second stage has an area where you face those red hopping mecha enemies while trying to cross between two platforms via a bridge, and with some nice timing (getting on the bridge and then backtracking) you can actually trick those robots to jump forward... never mind the distance being far too wide for them. You'll convince most of the robots to jump to their quick demise immediately.
  • Attack Drone: Many of the Scrap Empire robots are hovering drones who can blast the players while floating everywhere.
  • Beast Man: Grey O'Brien, the only playable character who's a dog-man, owing to the Scrap Empire's conversion on him being incomplete. When executing his special attacks, Grey can momentarily revert back to his human form, just for a short while.
  • Breakout Character: Kurara from this game is none other than Clara Hananokoji from the Power Instinct series, now a protagonist headlining her own game.
  • Flash of Pain: Visible on all the bosses, as indicator that the player's hitting the right spot.
  • Floating Continent: The entire game is set on a floating fortress, with an entire city below in the background.
  • Giant Crab: Death Scissor, a huge crab mecha which attacks the main characters with it's Power Pincers. It's main claw is also invincible, deflecting all your shots, and it's only vulnerable when it raises it's claws to smash you down (allowing you to target it's front).
  • The Great Serpent: The second-to-last boss fought by the players is a gigantic mechanical serpent, with it's sole weakness being it's head.
  • Homing Projectile: In the form of magically-summoned stars that chases after enemies, since the game is set in a fantasy world without firearms.
  • Hopping Machine: Another minor mook enemy, red robots on spring-loaded legs which it uses to hop around the area.
  • Magic Wand: The Apricot sisters uses magic wands capable of blasting energy bolts as their weapons, instead of firearms seen in similar Run-and-Gun-type games.
  • Mecha-Mooks: All the onscreen enemies sent by the Scrap Empire are robotic, and comes in a variety of sizes.
  • Smart Bomb: The Apricot sisters and Grey O'Brien all have a special attack that damages all onscreen enemies, clearing the screen of robots in an instant. It deals plenty of damage on bosses too.
  • Smashed Eggs Hatching: Very frequently, the players will come across gigantic, human-sized eggs in the game. Which breaks open immediately after being shot or smashed - and releasing several chicks, that can be collected for points.
  • Spread Shot: A power-up available for all players, which turns their energy bolts into spreads covering an arc.
  • Weak Turret Gun: The Scrap Empire have plenty of mechanical turrets which activates instantly and fires on the players, but they go down really easily in just a couple of shots. They're even easier to beat compared to the robot mooks due to being immobile.

Alternative Title(s): Purikura Daisakusen