Kenseiden, Sega Master System, 1988
Kenseiden is a side scrolling action RPG that, if my assumption is correct, many of you reading this have never played let alone heard of. And that is quite unfortunate as this game is one of the best the Master System has to offer and will feel right at home for anyone who loves old school action titles. Kenseiden stood out from the pack on the SMS due to its darker, more mystical trappings. The art design is far more on the creepy side of things (think Castlevania) than scary, but owing to the story of the game itself, you are tasked with recovering five scrolls from seven evil warlocks and killing Oda Nobunaga, it fits perfectly. Each warlock you kill gives you a new ability and adds to your overall ass kicking move set. The sprites all look great. The backgrounds are varied and interesting and comprise thirteen different areas to explore. The game is tough however, and requires you to first master its particular idiosyncrasies before you master the game. Overall Kenseiden is well worth a playthrough and remains one of my favorite SMS games.
Mr. Vampire, Golden Harvest, 1985
Oh Mr. Vampire. So, okay, before this film, the comedy horror subset of Kung Fu films wasn’t really a thing because, and really think about this for a moment, why would it be? Those genres aren’t exactly first on the list of crossover candidates. But, upon further reflection, we arrive at the same conclusion the filmmakers must have also arrived, why not? Mr. Vampire is ridiculous but in the best way. The titular Mr. Vampire is based on the Jiangshi from Chinese legend. Jiangshi are hopping corpses, wearing traditional dress with arms outstretched, that hop and suck the Chi out of their victims. The plot of the film sees a Taoist priest dig up a vampire, thinking it was just going to be a simple reburial, bring the vampire to his home for study, and subsequently be tormented by said vampire due to the ineptitude of his assistants. Things spiral from there and get even weirder. I promise it’s better to watch than to have explained. It’s dark yet humorous and one of my favorite Kung Fu flicks.