Kishin Douji Zenki: Battle Raiden

Zenki
Nintendo Super Famicom

Kishin Douji Zenki: Battle Raiden

鬼神童子ゼンキ烈闘雷伝 || CAProduction / Hudson 1995
Original Post Date: October 1, 2019

Battle Raiden (also known as Rettou Raiden) was the first of numerous video game adaptations of the Shounen classic, Zenki.

Developed by the same team as Hagane, it can very much be thought of as a spiritual successor, featuring beautiful spritework, detailed backgrounds, and of course, high-intensity action with an impressive array of attacks to choose from. The main difference being that it’s a much slower-paced game than Hagane.

Like Hagane, there are five missions. Each of them contains four sub-levels, the second and fourth of which are merely a sub-boss and stage boss, respectively. Ironically, the sub-bosses are often larger and more visually stunning than the main battles.

Throughout the game, your titular character will take two unique forms. You start the game in Zenki’s Chibi form, where his moveset is quite limited.

Here he can throw punches, standing or crouching, perform mid-air rolls, flying kicks, as well as dash forwards or backwards using the shoulder buttons. For most of the game, however, he’ll appear in his Demon God form, which greatly enhances his offensive potential.

When powered up, you can throw a flurry of punches by tapping the attack button. By double tapping forward and hitting attack, you’ll lunge forward for a flying punch, serving as both a great attack and movement option. Up plus attack will summon a tornado.

Holding the attack button will charge up your energy, at which point you can release the button to fire a projectile, or press forwards to release a mighty point-blank blast of energy.

When scroll items are acquired, you can also sacrifice a bit of your energy to unleash a screen-filling bomb.

The level design often requires a bit of thought outside of merely the combat – a few of the stages are somewhat non-linear, requiring one to find the correct item before the stage exit will open.

Thankfully, these tasks never cross the line to full-on cryptic territory, and serve only to encourage a bit of stage exploration.

Like its spiritual predecessor, Zenki: Battle Raiden is a demonstration of 16-bit gaming at its finest. Pure brilliance.

Rating: 9/10

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