Bujingai: The Forsaken City was one of my great impulse buys. After reading a review from Game Informer around May and forgetting the existence of the game for a solid two months, I caught a blip of it while I was sorting my older mags. Then I asked myself, "Why the hell did that not come through the store I work at?" (Game Crazy) Well the next time at work, I checked the computer and it wasn't even listed. Then I called EBGames -- no copies, but it was in their computer. Gamestop -- "no copies" and the manager didn't know what is was. Next, Walmart, Kmart, Shopko, Circuit City, two local stores, and Target gave me "wth is that?" responses over the phone. However, due to a reasonable proposition of buying new shoes, I hit the mall and decided to go to Gamestop just to look around. After seeing a copy of R.A.D. and having a nostalgia attack, I asked the manager on duty and he gave the familiar "wth?" response. Despite this, my eyes diverted from his to look in the case behind the counter, and LOW AND BEHOLD, the ever-elusive Bujangai was sitting, shiny and new.
After a solid four hours into the game, I could say it was well worth the trouble. Bujingai could be described as Otogi on crack, combined with the likeness of a Japanese pop idol (Gackt, who looks extremely badass in my opinion) with more flash then a Pink Floyd lightshow, and some RPG elements. The simple combos of Bujingai are cake to pull off, yet the the dynamic wall running, "Crouching Tiger flying", and magic repelling tactics create much more interesting things further in the game. This all comes together greatly after the first two levels, which are definitely cool, but still fairly easy. Come level three and beyond, the difficulty ramps up and the level design showcases the absolute intentions of all the disposable moves of Lau. While the core gameplay can be called simplistic, with a disguised depth, the RPG elements remain light and in the vein of Otogi. They do however offer more of a difference for each character, where you can actually notice performance enhancements and changing appearance/combos.
The game itself, a brisk 10-12 hours on normal mode (with a total of 4 difficulties) is somewhat short, but just right for a game of this type. However, the bevy of unlockables, leveling up, admittedly cool stories/sidequests, and difficulties give it more replay value then most games. I could easily see someone plunking down 30 hours of their time swinging away.
Aesthetics-wise, Bujingai brings home the goods with the flashiest graphics for any game, possibly ever. Fighting is not only fun to play, but watching it is a treat in itself. Some awesome special effects, great FMV and just a marvelous overall presentation give Bujingai the lift from the somewhat simplistic gameplay it offers. Also, the music is absolutely awesome and very diverse, hitting moods perfectly each time. Lastly, the voice acting, while not on par with the magnificent voice acting in the Japanese version, hits the right spot with a campy sort of a goodness.
Overall, Bujingai: The Forsaken City is greater then the sum of its parts. Many might scoff at the initial simplicity of combos and such, but the the depth reveals itself gradually and the games challenge, replay value, and overall cool factor make it a must-buy. Of course the must-buy part might be difficult because of the lack of copies printed. The only places currently housing the game are online retailers and EBGames/Gamestop stores. If you manage to find it, do not hesitate to pick this wonderful game up.