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Released: 1991

Genre: Beat-’em-up

Format reviewed: Neo Geo

Publisher: SNK

Developer: SNK

Submitted by: Sepp Salerno

If there was a machine built for beat em ups, it was the Neo Geo AES, and being raised in the arcades on a heavy diet of marshal art action, SNK offered up some satisfying fisty cuffs. One of which seems to have been overlooked somewhat in the hall of fame, this maybe due to it’s incredibly redundant, repetitive, button mashing game play.

However, I’m a pretty thick bloke, so occasionally I’m happy playing a game that not only requires no skill at all to master, but has stages that seem to last forever, a level layout that likes to jump all over the place, enemies that turn to corn momentarily before then turning into waistcoats, massive heads that look menacing but die with one punch, spirits you can unlock and play as (one of which is a dog wearing jewellery) and an overall design that is almost psychotic and unlike anything else you’ll have to play in a beat em up, and I use the word ‘play’ loosely. Sengoku is that game, and it really is a work of art that should have it’s own genre.

There is a crazy back-story to the game but it is so high concept, and irrelevant once you actually start playing this ‘conceptual free for all’ you just forget it, in fact, once you’ve completed Sengoku you’ll have probably forgotten your own name. Like with a lot of Neo Geo offerings, Sengoku has infinite continues so there’s not really a sense of achieving anything. But playing it is priceless, as Sengoku is truly comical Japanese weirdness of the finest order, and it’ll make you and your friends giggle as much as tax your endurance levels while you make you way through it’s relentless stages as either a dude in some fetching cyber punk biker gear, or a metrosexual cowboy.

There are not enough words to go into why this game has to be tracked down and experienced for the unique oddity it truly is, so do yourself a favour, see for yourself anyway you can. Sengoku stands alone.