When I say Kakuto Chojin, what's the first thing that comes to mind? Is it a rare type of sushi? Some kind of newfangled shiatsu technique, perhaps? No, Kakuto Chojin is actually a vortex of inept fighters from gutters around the world attempting to form some kind of second-rate fight club on the Xbox. Anyone get that?
I have to admit that I knew nothing about Microsoft's first entry into the fighting genre before it showed up on the GR doorstep. It was all wrapped up in nice shiny cellophane, but for some reason it had a familiar, funny smell to it. So with no preconceived notions in mind, I took my handy blade and hacked my way into the box. As I popped in the disk and started it up, the stench hit me like the elephant enclosure a few hours after feeding time.
It was the smell of a bad game. And though my instincts screamed at me to remove the disk before permanent damage was done, I thought of you, dear reader, and the agonizing pain that you would suffer if I did not spread the word.
So just what's wrong with Kakuto Chojin, you ask? Honestly, there are so many things going wrong here that I don't know where to begin.
How about the story, which is so confusingly pseudo-existent that I can't begin to comprehend what was going on in the cranial masses of those behind its existence. Can't figure out what the hell I just said? Congratulations and welcome to the 'story' of Kakuto Chojin. The instruction "diary" sets up some kind of story about an underground fighting circuit, complete with background bios on all the characters that hint at some kind of plot. Then you play the game and experience no plot whatsoever. Even Dead or Alive had some kind of weird dialogue and cut scenes. Kakuto Chojin has no real dialogue, no cut scenes and just barfs out some lame text epilogue at the game's conclusion. What the heck is this whole thing about? I don't really expect a fighting game to have a story, but this is insulting.
This is a fighting game, is it not? So, can someone tell me where these guys learned how to fight? Did someone publish a "Martial Arts for Dummies" book? The fighting system used here just doesn't make much sense at all. For instance, there are no punch or kick buttons - only commands like high, medium and low. That means there's no way of telling if your character will throw a punch or a kick. Just like real life!
While I'm happy that the move list tries to get away from the conventional quarter-circle Street Fighter system, I hate the fact that it tends to favor button-mashing. Many of the fighters have X, X, X type moves to complement the X, X, Y moves. Sure, there are more moves than that (such as Y, Y, X or the delightful X, Y, Y), but none of them take much skill at all. Button-mashers rejoice.
This leads to a really, really easy game. On my very first trip though without even looking at the move list, I was able to complete the game. I lost ONE round, but I guess nobody's perfect.
Equally disappointing is that the fact that the fighting isn't even fun to watch. Dead or Alive had plenty of fancy throws and counters. Mortal Kombat had the really cool fatalities. Even UFC had some cool submissions. What does Kakuto Chojin have? Punch. Kick. Ow. Game over.
Yet another low point is the level design. All you get is simple arena after arena. No breakable objects, no multiple levels - just a small ring, plain and simple. The box claims that Kakuto Chojin is "back alley brutal," yet there are no real back alleys. Did they realize what great arenas they could have included? Toss opponents into garbage bins, use homeless drunks for cover, smack adversaries into broken glass for more damage! The possibilities are endless. What a shame.
And while I'm not the subject of bad design, let's not forget the characters. I don't expect a bunch of fancy ninjas and sexy women, but man, what kind of ugly farm are these guys from? I've seen better-looking fighters in a Sea Monkey tank.
Despite their poor design, the fighters are well-rendered and shinier than a new nickel. Even the plain Jane arenas have decent texturing to them. Indeed, the one thing that Kakuto Chojin manages to get right is the graphics. Unfortunately, they forgot about the gameplay.
Kakuto Chojin does try to do some good with the simultaneous four-player multiplayer game, but due to its weak fighting system it doesn't amount to much excitement.
All Kakuto Chojin manages to do is stumble around in the ring and get knocked out. A weak fighting system and more disappointments than Mike Tyson lead to one of the worst brawlers I've seen in a while. Throw in the towel, this fight's been over since the first round.