Kasumi Ninja is a 1994 one-on-one fighting game developed by Hand Made Software and published by Atari for the Atari Jaguar. It is an original fighting game that was released for the Jaguar home console system, with other games being Ultra Vortek, Primal Rage, and Fight for Life, and sought to capitalize on the success of ultra violent fighting games started by Mortal Kombat. The game features a large number of dynamic, three-dimensional battlegrounds using parallax scrolling technology.
In single mode, the player is initially only able to choose between two characters (Habaki and Senzo). Other characters are unlocked progressively at the successful completion of each stage. The game is named after the game's setting, a mystical island called Kasumi Island. The objective of the game was to kill the game's boss, Gyaku, in his true form: a demon. Only when Demon Gyaku was killed one gets the best ending.
Habaki and Senzo - The Ninja Twins
Habaki is the eldest son (by ten minutes) of the Kiri-ga-kure family. At an early age the twin brothers were left in the care of the monks at the Dragon Cloud Temple. The two brothers were equally adept at the arts, both spiritually and physically. The Elders, noticing the great skill of the twins, offered them a chance to advance their arts by training as disciples under one of the Elders. Habaki was chosen by Kaioh and Senzo was chosen by Hiei. There have also been rumors of Gyaku taking a disciple, but no one has ever seen his student. During tournaments held at the Dragon Cloud Temple, the twins always cause a special interest because of their fierce competitiveness. The final match always comes down to the two brothers and each have won an equal number of championships over the years.
(Carbon copies of one other, their only difference is their respective fatality.)
Chagi Nelson - The Kickboxer
Chagi Nelson, five time world kickboxing champion, has never lost a professional bout. Even at the tender age of sixteen, Chagi KO'd his very first opponent in the first round. Chagi has trained all over the world, mixing different martial arts to develop a style all his own. Loud and obnoxious, Chagi has the ability to back up his big mouth with a dazzling display of speed and skill. Chagi currently owns a chain of successful kickboxing schools and convenience stores. He has also been seen in many popular action films such as: Under-seize; the Sci-Fi dance thriller the Lambadanator; and the most famous of his films, the Kickboxing Kidd Series I - XII. He can also be seen currently on TV's Trudger: Lodi Private Eye.
(Chagi's name is a reference to the Neri Chagi, a Taekwondo move.)
Pakawa - The Comanche Chief
Pakawa is the chief of the Comanche fighting tribe, the Tu-Wee-Kah. For many years the Comanches lived in harmony with nature. When the colonists settled in, the Comanches welcomed them with open hearts. As time went on, the colonists grew greedy and started to forcefully take the land from the Comanches, with no respect for the Comanche life. Pakawa decided to train a group of elite warriors and called them the Tu-Wee-Kah. The Tu-Wee-Kah were the equivalent of the Green Berets of their time and they were the ones who were sent in first to stealthily assassinate the opposition and disable key positions, the rest of the tribe would then attack. Pakawa has been in many battles and he is proud of the many scalps that he has collected.
(Pakawa scalps his foes in a fatality.)
Thundra - The Amazon Queen
Thundra is the queen of a lost tribe of Amazons warriors. These warriors have taken a solemn oath to protect the rainforest from modern industrialists who wish to destroy it for their own profit. This is done by surgically sabotaging vital equipment and assassinating high ranking company officials. Thundra is their greatest warrior and as a result, she was appointed queen. She has trained her warriors in a fighting art handed down for generations. This art was taken directly from the forces of nature and those who have mastered this art can channel their inner power to imitate the fury of nature.
Alaric - King of the Goths
Some of history's most feared and ferocious warriors were the Goths. The Goths were a nomadic tribe from Northern Europe who would travel the continent in search of battles to join so that they might pillage and kill, their two greatest joys! The most ruthless of the Goths was their king, Alaric. Not only was he a renowned fighter, he was also a skillful tactician, leading his tribe to certain victory time and time again. One of his greatest accomplishments was his imaginative use of gunpowder in many dangerous and unique ways.
(Alaric is loosely based on a real barbarian king also named Alaric who once sacked Rome.)
Danja Ureda - Urban Vigilante
By day Danja Ureda is an assistant DA fighting in court to lock up criminals and keep the streets safe. By night, she is a vigilante. Danja grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, but she studied hard in school and became an exceptional student. As a result, she was persecuted by her classmates and had to quickly learn the laws of the street to survive. When Danja graduated from high school she was quickly offered multiple scholarships for her academic and athletic abilities. She worked hard in college, and studied self-defence and exotic weapons to increase her street fighting skills. She earned straight A's and was accepted to Harvard Law School, where she specialized in criminal law. Graduating at the top of her class, she was offered many prestigious positions, but decided to take a job with the District Attorney in the inner city instead. She soon realized how corrupt the justice system really was and decided to use her street fighting skills to take the law into her own hands. Danja has mixed the martial arts she learned in college with her street fighting tactics and her personal preference for a weapon, the bolas. These bolas have been modified to administer her brutal brand of justice, giving them a real bang for their buck.
Angus MacGreggor - The Scottish Brawler
Angus MacGreggor is the blacksmith of his village Loch Katrine, as was his father, and his father's father before him. The constant pounding of hot iron has made Angus a burly man. Legend of Angus' strength quickly spread to the other clans of Scotland and as a result he was constantly challenged to tests of strength. These tests included wrestling, boxing, weight lifting, and the caber toss. Angus always won easily, but had high praise for his opponents, especially at their funerals. Angus soon discovered that he loved to brawl and became obsessed with fighting. Any pub Angus visited soon encountered a severe lack of both furnishings and patrons. Angus soon ran out of those who would challenge him, causing him much anger. This anger grew inside him every day, like a fire consuming his soul. Now Angus has dedicated his life to finding a worthy opponent, one who might be able to give him the fight of his life.
(Angus is most noted for the special move in which he shoots a fireball that inexplicably comes from underneath his kilt.)
Lord Gyaku - Boss
Lord Gyaku is the final boss of Kasumi Ninja. One of the eldest ninjas, Gyaku went berserk and killed all of the other elders on Kasumi island and proclaimed himself Lord of Kasumi Island. It is said that Gyaku is possessed by spirits from the Demon World. With the Dragon Cloud Temple also in his possession, Gyaku is planning his overthrow of the Island. The Dragon Cloud Temple is said to have a portal to the Demon World, and with such awesome power, Gyaku plans to rule not only Kasumi Island, but the world.
(If the player does not use a death move on Lord Gyaku during the final battle in single player mode, Lord Gyaku will transform into "Demon Gyaku," a stronger version of Lord Gyaku that resembles a Red Frill Lizard Humanoid Demon. Defeating "Demon Gyaku" will reward the players with the "Best Ending." It is also possible to play as Gyaku with a secret code, whereupon he replaces Senzo and Habaki in the Versus Mode.)
Controls feature punch, kick, and special move buttons. Kasumi Ninja has very sluggish controls, which was a major factor in negative reviews of the game. The two player versus mode requires the use of a code for players to choose the same character.
Violence and parental lockout
The game was given a "Mature" (17+) rating by the Entertainment Software Rating Board for its graphic violence and gore.
Kasumi Ninja was one of the first video games in history to allow parents to censor the level of violence allowed in the game by using a six digit password (by using the Jaguar's 12 button keypad). When the parental lock is enabled, a code is needed to select the "Gore Fest" gore level. The possible gore levels are: None (no blood), Combat (small amount of blood, but none from swords), Disturbing (more blood than Combat, and blood dripping from the swords), and Gore Fest (the only mode with death moves, the most blood, and it has to be unlocked with a parental lockout code).
The game was almost universally panned by critics. It has been criticized for being a blatant (including gameplay, digitized graphics and graphic violence) rip-off of Mortal Kombat with poor controls.
The Atari Times gave it a 50%, commenting that "Although the graphics and sound in this game are quite good, the sluggish controls hurt this one a lot..."
Kasumi Ninja went through several changes before it was released to the public. Kasumi Ninja was previewed approximately 8 months before its original release by a virtual game magazine distributed via CD. In this preview, Kasumi Ninja had a very heavy story element to it. Players were represented by a guardian spirit of Kasumi Island and could only begin the game as Senzo or Habaki(who originally was represented by the Gyaku character sprite). The spirit would take possession of either Senzo or Habaki, and during the main game's storyline, Senzo and Habaki would have to do battle with the other champions of Kasumi Island in order to free their spirits, enabling them to do battle against the evil polluting Kasumi island. Beating the game with each character would produce a specific key which, when combined, would unlock the gates to the final confrontation with Lord Gyaku.
This method of gameplay would have required the player to invest more time in order to complete the story mode. Players would have to navigate the labyrinth to find their opponents, and characters would be unlocked for play only as they were defeated by Senzo and Habaki. Players would subsequently have to play through each character and defeat all others as they became unlocked. Many of the backgrounds and character designs went through several revisions. For example, Alaric's default outfit had red trim, as opposed to blue. Habaki was garbed in black, but this was changed to represent Lord Gyaku. A fourth palette-swap ninja, garbed in blue, was seen in previews but apparently never made it to the final game. This blue ninja was said to be either Gyaku's original outfit or a secret character yet to be discovered.
The final game became a rush job. Pressuring the development team to get Kasumi Ninja out in a "timely fashion" (holiday season 1994), Kasumi's story mode was dropped in favor of the fighting concept sans storyline. The labyrinth exploration and key gathering concept was condensed, but the character unlocking system remained intact. Players were not required to use unlocked characters to defeat every other character before opening up another character for play, however.
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