Shao-lin's Road Arcade Retrospective

July 25, 2018

WARNING: Obvious satire.

 

Shao-lin’s Road (known in some territories as Wanpyou Clicker) is a 1985 arcade game developed by Based God Kojima and published by Konami. It is actually one of the earliest “beat-em-up” games, only it is much more repetitive than later examples and features more kicking than beating up. You play as a character named Jumpman and try to save your girlfriend Raochuu from men in purple and green pants.

 

Shao-lin’s Road was very innovative for being the first arcade game to feature both kicking and jumping. There had been many games before with just jumping, but Konami wanted to challenge gamers in a new and exciting way. This proved to be a good idea in the long run, as Shao-lin’s Road was incredibly popular, especially among the kickboxing fandom. Kickboxers everywhere agreed that the game highlighted just how “truly useless” arms were and pushed legs into the mainstream consciousness.

 

However, Konami did steal one idea from Mario Kart by featuring items. Kicking a green man will release one of three powerups: purple, which summons a bowling ball that can be kicked at more purple and green men; yellow, which gives you fireballs that you can kick at purple and green men; and green, which gives you a bowling ball shield. The fact that Konami blatantly stole such a prominent game mechanic did draw hefty criticism at the time, but it was soon quieted by the overwhelming popularity of kicking men in purple and green pants.

 

 

The game was noteworthy for featuring bosses that you could also kick. Bosses are distinguished from standard enemies because they wear different colored pants. Many gamers lauded this distinction, as it kept the game from becoming too confusing whenever there were a large number of onscreen enemies.

 

The first boss is a girl with blue pants named Yamucha.

 

 

The second boss is a girl with no pants named that chick from Star Wars.

 

 

The third boss is a man with red pants named Bob Gray.

 

 

The fourth boss wears brown pants and is named Casey from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

 

 

The fifth and final boss wears red pants and is named Jaken. Many gamers found the second use of red pants to be a lazy move on Konami's part.

 

 

To the casual gamer of the time, these bosses could have been considered too difficult. However, hardcore gamers made quick work of bosses thanks to the large number of moves at Kickman’s disposal, including both jumping and kicking.

 

After completing the main 7-minute campaign, skilled players are rewarded with a more difficult loop of the game. It is especially challenging because now men in purple and green pants can also kick, making Karate Kid’s kick slightly less effective against them. Furthermore, there is also a Pidgey that flies across the top of the screen, occasionally dropping bowling balls on you. I believe these challenges were very well-made and increase the replay value of Wanpyou Clicker considerably.

 

 

It is unknown if Shao-lin’s Road has a true ending. Many gamers have tried to find the ending, but for some reason the game loops after Step 5 and they have to start all over again. I think it is a glitch. However, it has been speculated for some time that there is an ending where Billy Lee saves his girlfriend Mr. Miyagi and he meets his dad for the first time. If this is true, Konami would have pioneered story-driven gameplay in an era where most games featured nothing but “excuse plots.” This was thanks to the unbridled genius of Father Kojima.

 

There is no doubt that Shao-lin’s Road pioneered the shoot-em-up genre. And though the game may not be as popular as it once was, you can still play it on 60-in-1 Multicade machines. Multicades are illegal, though.

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