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Shorts!

Games you probably never played:
"Spartan X 2" (aka: "Kung Fu 2")

by: Dr. Boogie
 

A while back, we were obliged to bring you news of the death of the fat black man from Kung Fu on the NES. Little did we realize, however, that the story of Kung Fu didn't end with our hero, Thomas, rescuing his little chickadee, Sylvia. No, I'm not referring to the endless repeating of the same tower that you rescued her from; you see, there was a sequel made to Kung Fu that never made it out of Japan.

I just happened to stumble across it the other day during one of my rom hunts. You see, in writing some of these game articles, it becomes necessary to supply so that you, the viewing public (or as I like to say in the case of the rom hacks, the "eww-ing" public. Ha ha), can experience the games firsthand. As I was scrolling through a list of games starting with "S", I came across a Japanese game called Spartan X. "That sounds interesting," I thought, and so I downloaded it and fired it up. Imagine my surprise when the game that came up was none other than Kung Fu. Even more surprising, I found a sequel, the aptly-titled Spartan X 2, and better still, some enterprising young translators had translated the game into English.

False advertising?

Right away, I was confronted by the obvious question which you all must be asking yourselves right now: why the hell does the title screen read "Kung Fu 2" when the rom was called Spartan X 2? Well the short answer is, "I don't know," and the long answer is, "I don't know, ask you father." Furthermore, why is the series called Spartan X when there is no sign of that ancient enemy of the Romans? That question, at least, was answered in the game, when the final boss explains that the original hero, Keiji Thomas, has actually changed his name to "Jonny Spartan." I'm guessing that in order to protect his identity, as well as the kidnap-prone Sylvia, he decided to change his name to the vaguely pornographic-sounding Jonny Spartan.

Don't worry, I brought the sawdust.

To supplement his new name, Jonny has swapped out his drab kung fu vestments for some nice red overalls, making him look less like a dangerous kung fu warrior, and more like a festive kung fu janitor. Seems like kind of a bad switch, but I'll defer to the judgment of Mr. Spartan on this one.

The gameplay is just like that of the original Kung Fu; you walk through the stage and fight past any obstacles you may come across and any thugs that may get in your way. Thugs like this guy:

Which way to the Manhole?

He's the new "guy who tries to grab you". Don't let the leopard print on his pants fool you; he's one persistent… guy-who-runs-at-you-like-an-idiot. Get used to seeing him, though, because most of the other enemies are just palette-swaps of this guy. Sure, they may be able to perform tackles, or swing from ropes, or fly jetpacks, but they're still just clones of the original

Through some unexplained circumstances, Jonny has become a member of an unnamed crime-fighting unit. I don't know much about it, except that it has at least two other members, a helicopter, and a set of video communicators so HQ can keep him abreast of his mission. In this case, his mission is to foil a smuggling ring. Step 1: catch a low-end perp riding the subway.

Hope his hair doesn't catch on fire.

Zippity bop!

His name is Flamey Joe, aka: David Lee Roth. Despite being fairly muscular, Joe sticks entirely with his namesake by exhaling a short stream of fire. Not a bad strategy, except when confronted by my "kick-and-kick-and-kick-and-kick" strategy. Unfortunately, Jonny informs HQ that he is unable to ply any info from Joe and his 80s hair metal 'do. Luckily, he somehow knows that a drug deal is going down at the docks, and that a magician is doing the buying. However, this is no ordinary drug-dealing magician...

Ruin my drug deal, will you?  Abracadabra!

Should be "magician/smuggler"

Though not nearly as dangerous as the dreaded midget magician from Kung Fu, Chin Gen Sai still has a few... tricks up his sleeve. Whereas the original magician could fling deadly fireballs and conjure up snakes to stop Thomas, this magician prefers to trap Jonny in a set of green rings, and then bombard him with m80's and beach balls. The m80's do slightly more damage. Once he's out of the way, it's off to your next destination: the boat full of drugs that Jonny was supposed to let Chin buy. No worries, though; as long as he can beat up a shipload of drug dealers, everything will be ok.

Avast!

You killed my brother!

The last man on the ship, however, is Billy Bailey, aka The New Black Guy. Billy's crotch is not as vulnerable as the original black guy's. If you try to work that area over while he's chucking boxes at you, you're liable to get kicked by his stubby, but powerful, legs. More importantly, though, Billy bears a striking resemblance to Popeye's arch nemesis, Bluto.

I'm a lean mean fightin' machine! vs. Well, I'm not lean, but I'm still mean!

You'd swear they were clones, if only Bluto did a few more sit-ups in the morning.

After defeating him, Jonny radios HQ to tell them that he's got yet another drug tip, this time about a circus troupe smuggling drugs aboard their plane. Now, the drug-dealing magician is starting to make sense. Anyway, Jonny has a plan that calls for a helicopter. To pick him up and drop him off so he can catch them at the airport? Close...

What parachute?

Brilliant! They'll never see it coming! Except that they do see it coming, and the top of the plane is packed with dozens of bad guys who, like you, have the amazing ability to walk on top of a plane flying several hundred miles an hour (or kilometers per hour, if you like). Even more unusual is that you gain entrance to the plane through an open hatch in the roof. I'd have thought that rather than go in and fight the boss, Jonny could just wait outside for the boss to be sucked out through such a hole, but no such luck.

Get to huggin' Giganto!

Mr. Benjamin, if you're nasty.

For a circus-themed boss, I was thinking strongman, juggler, or maybe even bearded lady. Instead, you fight animal tamer "Mr. Benjamin" and his trained gorilla, but not in that order. After warding off the amorous hugging of the gorilla, you'll have to brave Ben's whip and its incredible ability to make tiny waves when it strikes the floor. After him, you must fight the ringmaster! No, not really. Instead, Jonny is free to sit back and enjoy the rest of his flight to Hidden Druglab Island. Therein, he'll battle his way through the mansion of the druglord, Shi Son.

Hey, where's the doorknob? The infamous Fuschia clan!

Marvel at his luxurious home, complete with thug-braced doors and Olympic-sized swimming pool (note: pool is filled with ninjas). Gasp in feigned awe and then whisper quietly amongst yourselves about the owner's choice of a long hot pink rug with matching doors and lion's heads. And at the end of your tour, admire the hospitality of Shi Son's personal assistant, Madda "Hari" Lin.

Are you trying to seduce me?

Not technically a smuggler, you know.

Sure, her dossier says "smuggler," but they all say that. I'm sure she was supposed to be the head bad guy's tough-as-nails bodyguard. Or rather, his "tough-as-knives" bodyguard, because she throws those things at you like she thinks if she keeps doing it, she'll win something. Unfortunately for her, all she won was a beating. Get it? It's like, a pun, or something. Anyway, with her down, that just leaves Jonny and the big man.

I'm from Canada.

At least he was considerate enough to inform the audience that the reason you play as some guy named Jonny in this sequel to Kung Fu is because Thomas decided he needed a newer, crappier name. He goes on to say that it, "wouldn't be very interesting just to shoot you." No, certainly not. That's why he has to lead you through a "special stage" before your one-on-one showdown like some lame Bond villain. That stage: a slow, left-to-right elevator, followed by an underwater battle. Luckily, Jonny can control his chi well enough to allow himself to breathe underwater. Simply amazing! Anyway, that just leaves the main event:

I wonder if he ever washes that outfit...

Jonny Spartan vs. Shi Son! Good vs. Evil! The Man in Black vs. The Crimson Custodian! Winner take all! Forty seconds later, after you've uppercut him to death, it's game over. Time to radio HQ and tell them that you've completely dismantled the drug ring. With that, you are treated to a "199X: Jonny Spartan destroyed the drug ring," as well as a slightly discouraging message about how his job isn't over as long as "crime exists." Ouch. Looks like he's in it for the long run. Well, surely the entire world can be persuaded to give up crime if it's known that good ol' Jonny Spartan can't retire until everyone else starts behaving themselves. It could happen...

I'm a pretty ballerina!

Questions or Comments about this piece?
email Dr. Boogie


*** You too can play Spartan X 2 / Kung Fu 2! ***

[CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD SPARTAN X 2 / KUNG FU 2!]

[CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE NES EMULATOR TO PLAY IT!]


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