History meets Videogame

Today I finished lesson 20 of 30 in どんな時どう. At the end of the lesson I shut down my computer, and after finishing todays Anki reviews on my Notebook, I went Online to read some video game reviews. One of the ones I read was アレックス・キッド, a jump&run game, in which you are supposed to punch and kick your way through various levels, to save Alex father who is being held captive by ジャン・アシュレー.

In this game you not only punch and kick, but you also get the chance to play a mini-game not only Japanese children are masters in, じゃんけんぽん. Not only is this a mini-game, but you will also have to beat the boss monster at the end of it. He has 8 arms, and you have to play rock-paper-scissors several times, until he drops dead. When this game was released, only consoles existed, and loosing ones life’s meant Game Over. So if you weren’t able to beat any boss, or you happened to be dying along the way, you had to start your game all over again. Nowadays, and with Emulators allowing free-saves whenever you feel like it, even the most untalented player should see the boss in this game.

The other game I read a review about is called ザ・スーパー忍 The Super Shinobi. I used to play this game on my old Mega Drive when it hit stores in Ye Olde Europe. In Japan, this game was first released in the year 1989, a historic year for Germany. The Berlin Wall was opened up allowing East German citizens to freely visit the West. This was announced on 9 November 1989, by the East German government, and 1990, the physical wall fell. Today, some Germans might wish the wall was still there, because the West has to financially support the economically weak Eastern part of Germany. But back to Joe Musashi, the Ninja hero of this game, whose fiance was killed by an evil organization called 「NEO ZEED」. Joe is going to seek vengeance, fighting with a sword, throwing stars, and some secret Ninja techniques. Eventually he can stay alive long enough, to meet the evil master behind 「NEO ZEED」, to take revenge for his loved one.

After the first part of ザ・スーパー忍, the second title in this series was released in Japan in 1993, which I have never played myself. I don’t even know whether or not there was an official release of the second installment in Europe. I just happened to read this third review, in which the player takes on the role of Joe Musashi once more, to fight 「NEO ZEED」. As I mentioned already, I haven’t played this game myself, but in the review I found a familiar word. I bet if you’ve been working through James Heisigs Remembering the Kanji I you are familiar with it as well. It is the kanji 尺, which is also used in the word 尺八 (しゃくはち) Shakuhachi, which is a bamboo flute.

As it so happens, there was also another word that caught my attention in this review, 虚無僧, (こむそう), which is a sub-boss in the game. Being the curious person that I am, I just had to look up the word, and this is what I found out. 虚無僧 are “Zen priests of Nothingness” from the no longer existing 普化宗 (ふけしゅう) school. Although no longer existing, the tradition seems to be upheld by some Japanese men and women, even today. And I must say it is truly a sight, priests wearing a braided hat called 編笠 (あみがさ), wandering around and playing the 尺八.

With so much to see, and so much to read and watch, I would like to conclude this entry, by wishing you much fun in discovering the past, and some articles about video games. Maybe you are also going to play some of the above mentioned games yourself. In that case, have fun, and good luck!

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