Friday, November 6, 2020

Kick Master (NES, 1991)

It's time for me to play the raddest NES game of 1991. Some people are masters of punching. Some people are masters of elbowing. Some people are just masters of blocking with their face. Not this guy. THIS... is Kick Master.

This is a somewhat classic game, and any praise it gets is well-deserved. I didn't hear about it until recently. Let's see the story description, straight from the back of the box:

The King and Queen are dead, Princess Silphee kidnapped, and the King's Knights destroyed. Belzed, an evil wizard, wants the Kingdom of Lowrel for his own, and has hidden Silphee deep in his lair. Only Thonolan remains, the youngest, most talented Kick Master ever born. If he were any less powerful, he'd never survive. He must use every ounce of his fighting strength and summon up all of his magical skill to overcome Belzed's army of fanatics.

The options menu contains an intriguing selection: Demo of Kicks? SIGN ME UP!

Behold! One of the most devastating moves known to humanity, as seen in The Karate Kid.

It's impressive how many moves this guy has, especially for an NES game. He has a different attack for nearly every input you can make.

"Scummy"? OH NO HE DIDN'T!

The "overworld" is a horizontal plane that reminds me of Super Ghouls and Ghosts.

This game is very different from Super Ghouls and Ghosts, though. The difficulty is on another planet (in other words, this game easy), and the general color scheme is bright and lively. This in spite of the enemies being largely undead fiends.

Sweep the leg-bone of enough skeletons and you learn a new spell. That's right, this game has magic. It also has MP. Not bad for a game that otherwise plays just like Bad Dudes.

In the interest of getting through the game quickly, I beefed my levels up to max by farming skeletons. As a result, I steamrolled the first boss with a jumping spin kick.

 Blade: "Kick Master is fuckin' metal as FUCK, bro!"


The next area is the swamp. I feel like I'm still playing Bloodborne here.

The main weakness of the game: Vertical-scrolling areas. You can't go back the way you came, and normally that isn't an issue. However, in a vertical-scrolling area, this means the bottom edge of the screen becomes a DEATH PIT. You very often get trapped and die as a result.

The next boss...are these really NES graphics? Wow. This is pretty impressive stuff. I like how some of the villains in this game are women, which is highly unusual for an NES game.

Pressing down and forward + attack while jumping results in a gliding flying kick. It's fun to play around with and often has you sailing past any nearby enemies. Just be sure to not accidentally glide our hero into a pit.

Kick Master battles a green lion boss! ...and I take a moment to think about just how bizarre this game really is. It SOUNDS like a fighting game, but it LOOKS like a fantasy game with spells, but the storyline is kinda sci-fi, and I think the main character is a ninja.

It's like Ninja Gaiden had lesbian sex with Dragon Warrior, then got artificially inseminated with sperm donated by Fallout, and then this game was born.

Yep, Ninja Gaiden is female. A lot of people don't know that.

With all of these kicks, this is one game that Eric Bischoff would probably love. I think even the Back-Leg Front Kick sneaks in there somewhere.

...readers in 1997 would have just laughed at that one. I'm Old.

The sound of Japanese girls moaning is heard as tentacles reach out of the background. I think I'm on a boat.

Egad! This looks like a pretty impressive boss until you realize that it doesn't move at all. This one frame is the only existence it has. It doesn't even look particularly vicious or anything; it's like it's just popping up to look around.

Of course, Kick Master murders it. Because Kick Master!


We finally get some decent backgrounds as our hero arrives in the swamp. Or maybe this is a beach. It could also be the terrifying final moments of a world without tampons.

I discover that the lightning spell is extremely useful. It calls down an imp to light up the area around you with lightning bolts for a few seconds; these bolts actually stun anything they hit while continuously doing damage for those few seconds. As a result, this spell can totally obliterate most foes.

It's especially useful against the flying boss here. Trying to kick this thing as it zips around is a fool's errand when you can just zap it.

For a second I thought this said "happy magic". Flight? Sign me up!

Unfortunately, Kick Master flies as if he has cement blocks attached to his feet. You need to hammer the jump button to get any kind of upward momentum or he'll tumble back down before you can blink. While you're hammering jump, you're not exactly mounting any kind of offense. Not sure what the point of this is, but it sure as hell isn't happy magic.

The next boss is a spider with a goblin head. The devil's hands have been busy.

Finally, we arrive at the final level of the game. The nefarious Belzed is the evil sorceress who kidnapped the princess and enslaved the kingdom. And now, the only hope for defeating her lies in the capable hands of...

What the fuck? How'd he get in here? I was saying, Kick Master is the only hope left for the beleaguered people of the kingdom...and the beleaguered people of the world.

The last section of the game is a truly horrible vertical-scrolling area. I already went over why vertical-scrolling areas were a terrible idea in this game, and this last area really emphasizes it as you die repeatedly to cheapness.

The endgame throws several minibosses at you, like this noble centaur. All things considered, the bosses look pretty good for being 8-bit.

Get past them and Belzed makes you fight a bunch of waves of goons. Get past -that- and it's time for the nefarious sorceress herself.

...and she's like impossible. Seriously. Even at max level she will take you apart. So how does one beat this game, you ask?

There's a time stop spell, and it works on the final boss. Use that and just pummel her in the corner until the fight ends. Yeah, it's pretty cheap.

Our hero finds the princess, then uses the Harpy Magic to whisk them away to safety. ...well, he tries to. If these wings could barely keep one person up, he sure as hell ain't carrying the princess. Well, he can lightly drag her along the ground while furiously flapping his wings to try and stay in the air.

Don't worry, Kick Master! You don't have to impress her! You already saved the kingdom!

"Just back off!" says Kick Master as he pulls every muscle attempting to flap through the air with the princess in tow. "I'm FINE"

After returning the princess, Kick Master immediately left the room out of rage and embarrassment, throwing his wings on the ground and cursing at them.

::Jimmy Havoc's theme intensifies::

"Fellow video gamer"? What is with this sudden fourth wall breaking? Don't you speak to me, game!

Well, that's Kick Master for the NES.

This game is awesome. What does The Man With The Iron Fists himself, The RZA, think about his foot-counterpart?

The RZA is extremely impressed, as you can see.


  1. I have yet to see a copy of this one in the wild, never heard about it until now. Looks like it's pretty rare.

    Taito was big on ninja games at this time, it shows here.

    I suppose the rareness is why I never heard of it before, but this one looks pretty darn good. Little Samson was too.

    If it's good enough for The RZA, it's good enough for me!

  2. KICK MASTAAA! What an idea!

    He has many kicks? And they show them to you and how to do them in the beginning? Great!

    The Bloodborne references you've been making all day show how influential the game is very well.

    I appreciate all the color here. How hadn't I heard of this game before, was it because a small studio made it? I'm down with the unique color scheme as well.
    These huge bosses and their intros are impressive.

    So it gets really hard. Well, Ninja Gaiden was too.

    That image of flying away with the princess is cool. I also like that the spells work on the bosses. Very modern. I'm sure you were indeed meant to use the ultimate-power spell at the end there.

  3. Typical Sky Blazer ending. Hero save the girls and instead of fucking her or something he skips town.
    Adol Christin does that in every games too.
    Come on video games protagonists you need to AT LEAST get them pregnant before you skip town! If there's no more heroic legacies then the evil guys will win in the long run!