Kakuto Chojin

Year: 2002
Platform: Xbox
Developer: Microsoft Games
Genre: 3D fighting
Review Date: 12/30/02
Rating: **

What started out as a tech demo for Microsoft ended up becoming, well, a tech demo for Microsoft. "Kakuto Chojin" is a simple and somewhat shallow fighting game that feels like it was rushed to market and never finished. It looks nice and features some nifty effects, but it's completely uninteresting and not very fun to play. The only features worth noting are:

    1) Technical breakthroughs in baby-oil reflection mapping give it the sweatiest and shiniest fighters on any platform.
    2) The female characters are all really unattractive and seriously fashion-impaired.
    3) The male characters are all unusually gay for the fighting genre.
    4) The motion capture and character animations are extremely fluid and realistic.
    5) The Matrix-like finishing move cinematography is really cool, but subject to unfortunate clipping and collision problems.
    6) Overly enthusiastic breast physics make for unintentional laughs.

Like many fighting games, "Kakuto Chojin" features several different modes, including "practice", "survival", "versus", "story", and a 4-player "battle royal" mode. The story mode is a complete joke, and even more cryptic than the "Dead Or Alive" games. It's unclear why it's even called "story mode", as there are NO story elements at all! After you win the tournament, all you get is a short paragraph about a back story you know nothing about. And the final battle takes place in another dimension against a buxom, cloven-hooved, demon chick with gigantic horns. Anyone care to explain that?!? (Alright, I know many fighting games feature a final showdown with a supernatural foe of some kind, but this one seems REALLY out of place) This ambiguity and lack of effort even extends to the instruction manual, which has no instructions, back story, or useful information in it! I could never figure out the objective to "Capture The Crown", because there are no directions. You can try to "capture" the crown that's on the screen, only you can't. The instructions are literally on a single page that shows the controller and what the various buttons map to. That's it! Then it's twelve pages devoted to profiles of the various fighters that are, once again, completely pointless and not helpful. The level of incompetence is flooring.

Other nuisances work against the game as well. The soundtrack is a nice collection of aggressive techno compositions, but you only get to hear the first 10-20 seconds of each song because they start over after each round! This is extremely annoying and causes a noticeable discontinuity in each fight. The audio clips and sound effects are also unimpressive, and the menu voiceovers become irritating very quickly. It's nice that for a change each fighter speaks in their own native tongue, but none of them have anything interesting to say, so it's rather moot. And finally, even though the Matrix effect is cool, you'll want to skip past it after a while, along with the pointless and tedious replay feature. It just takes too long to click through all of the superfluous stuff to get back into the game. These all seem to be rather minor issues, but they all contribute to the unenjoyment of the game. It's unfortunate that more time wasn't put into making a more enjoyable game.

And then there's the final insult. Two months after its initial release, Microsoft recalled the game, citing that it contained "offensive religious material." What?!? Granted, I'm not overly sensitive to religious themes and symbolism, but I failed to find any religious references in the game whatsoever. In fact, it's difficult to find any content in the game at all, religious or not. The cynical side of me believes that Microsoft recalled the game simply to cut their losses and clear up shelf space for games that would have a better chance of selling.