Hong Kong, with its unique architecture and street culture, provides the perfect setting for video games. In my previous mini-series, we’ve seen how the ex-colony was vividly brought to life in the 2012 masterpiece, Sleeping Dogs.
Triad and gangs are hardly the only things associated with Hong Kong, of course. There’s also the fascinating world of Wuxia (武侠). A world in which medieval pugilists effortlessly scale walls and leap tall buildings using qinggong, and accomplish miraculous feats such as instant healing through the cultivation of inner energy. It was Hong Kong, not China, that popularised this genre of Chinese writing, through half a century of Wuxia movie and television series. When it comes to video games, Hong Kong, Chinese and Taiwanese developers have churned out hundreds of Wuxia games over the years. On the other hand, there are very few such productions from other countries. Even titles like Shenmue, Heavenly Sword, and Jade Empire, could only be considered as loosely Wuxia-inspired.
PS: Puritan Chinese players like me consider games such as Jade Empire to be of the Xianxia (仙侠) genre. Strictly speaking, Wuxia stories have no supernatural elements. Qinggong, internal healing and the likes of are not considered as supernatural under Wuxia. (It’s baffling, I know.)
Bujingai: The Forsaken City. A Wuxia Inspired Adventure.
Like the other titles I’ve mentioned, Bujingai: The Forsaken City, isn’t strictly a Wuxia game. It has way too many supernatural bits, it’s also set in the future. That said, many other aspects of it are decisively Wuxia in feel, particularly the stylised sword fighting, costume design, and the combat posturing. (Combat posturing is a huge part of Wuxia fight choreography) Overall, I’d say Bujingai is a good introduction to Wuxia, one that enthusiastically showcases the more outlandish characteristics of the genre. Best of all, the game incorporates a mix of Hong Kong and classic Chinese architecture in its stage design. Playing it is akin to leaping into a Wuxia movie set. Albeit, a really weird one with Anime and post-apocalyptic elements.
Bujingai: The Forsaken City is a hack ‘n’ slash. Its story is hard to summarise because it’s non-linear and some parts don’t make sense. There are also differences between what’s written online and what’s printed in my Japanese manual.
In short, the adventure is about Lau, a mythical swordsman who returns to Earth to battle Rei, his former fellow disciple who has turned to the dark side. Centuries ago, most of Earth’s population was killed by a nuclear disaster. In the aftermath, survivors acquired special abilities by harnessing the energies of the earth. Meanwhile, monsters have appeared all over Asia, taking over the city of Bujingai. (Or the island of Kenkisoukendo in the Japanese version). As Lau battles the forces of Rei, he discovers the reason for his former friend’s descent into darkness. Everything seems to revolve around a mysterious woman named Youfa.
Our Guide for this Wuxia Adventure: Lau Wong (劉 王羽)
All screenshots are owned by Taito Corporation and Red Entertainment.,
Japanese pop icon Gackt provided the motion captures for the creation of Lau Wong. While this doesn’t sound like a big deal nowadays, remember that Bujingai is near 15 years old. This was a big thing in the PS2 age.
Hong Kong Inspired Stages
Come to think of it, Bujingai would make for a great open-world game. If remade for today’s consoles.
That’s all for this brief Wuxia adventure!
If you’ve enjoyed it, and your PS2 is still working, consider getting a copy of Bujingai: The Forsaken City!