SNES Game Review – Kendo Rage

Known in Japan as Makeruna! Makend? and developed by Datam Polystar, it was re-developed for the US market in 1993 by SETA. There were a great many adaptations made to the Japanese version for it’s American release, chief among which a total upheaval of the plot. In the Japanese version, the protagonist is a girl named Mai who is asked to aid a ‘Spirit Detective’ named Doro to fight monsters. In the American version, however, her name was changed to ‘Jo’ and she became a schoolgirl who fought monsters on her way to school at the behest of her personal trainer, ‘Bob’.
The game centers around Mai/Jo’s studies of Kendo. She has to fight horde after horde of monsters with her shinai in order to reach the various Dojo’s located around the city. Kendo is based on an ancient Japanese martial art called kenjitsu that was used to train prospective samurai in the ways of swordsmanship. Today practitioners use a shinai, a practice sword made from bamboo, and b?gu, a form of light body armour, to spar with each other. However, the martial art has deep roots in Zen Buddhism and is considered less as a fighting style and more as a method of meditation, not unlike Tai-chi, which makes it an odd choice for a fighting game.

One of the nicest things about the game is that it is chock-a-block full of colorful sprites and other interesting happenings almost all of the time and the whole package is very pretty. One thing I must remark on is the similarity between the graphics in this game and the Japanese drawing style of anime, with the two merging quite brilliantly. The sound quality is good as well, and another of the things I found great about the game was it’s music. From the chirpy ditties that play in some of the earlier boss fights to the electric guitar shred-fest in the later ones, the music is constantly good and helps create a nice backdrop against which the fighting can occur.

At first glance, Kendo Rage appears to be your average side-scrolling platformer. Jump. Attack. Kill Boss. Repeat. It’s a formula that has rung true for platformers since the very beginning. For all of this, however, Kendo Rage is spectacularly difficult. Even on easy mode you’ll struggle to complete it at all, let alone in a single sitting, and on harder modes you may as well forget it unless you have the iron will needed in order to prevent yourself from going into a blind rage and damaging something from the sheer frequency with which Mai/Jo bites the proverbial bullet. But if you have all of these things and are willing to put in a good few hours you may well end up feeling very rewarded. For a comittment to basic, simple but knuckle-damagingly difficult gameplay Kendo Rage earns a respectable 7/10 from me.