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The beat-em-up genre has a reputation for being highly addictive, fun to play, not too serious, and naturally attracts a wide audience. Breaking the mould a little for the new millennium are Ubi Soft and Crave with the release of Kengo. Set in Japan, Kengo tells a tale of Eastern faith and beliefs. Because of this, Kengo's story is based upon technique and honour, rather than Western brute force. Of course, some 'typical of the genre' features remain intact, such as health gauges, character selection and the fact that Kengo is essentially still a beat-em-up, but there are unique attributes if you look hard enough.
Kengo, otherwise known as Master of Bushido has a traditionally Japanese and involving plot line, and although subtitled, it does demand a degree of motivation upon the player. Japanese through and through, Kengo unsurprisingly also features a few role-playing aspects. All characters within the game can utilise and improve both their physical and mental skills in the same way that characters in an RPG level up. Each character has unique strengths and weaknesses, whereby some are slow but strong, and others are weaker but more agile. Fortunately, all characters have a number of combo options that are fully customisable, a feature essential to a game of this type. Game modes include tournament, street battle, survival and head-to-head, giving Kengo plenty of longevity that ultimately rewards players of the game.
While Kengo won't instantly appeal to all audiences, it is a fantastically playable game, and fans of the genre should give it the nod.