GenpeiTomaDen (源平討魔伝, lit. "The Genpei Tale of the Demon Slayer") is a 1986 side-scrolling hack and slash platform game. The player controls Taira no Kagekiyo, a samurai who was killed in the Battle of Dan-no-ura during the Genpei War. Kagekiyo was resurrected to defeat his enemy Minamoto no Yoritomo and the heads of his clan, Minamoto no Yoshitsune and Saito Musashibo Benkei.
In the year 1192, the darkness of the Minamoto clan has come and is spreading across Japan. The country is being ravaged, and only one man of the lost Heike clan can return from the depths of hell to put a stop to it. His name is Taira no Kagekiyo.
The story of GenpeiTōmaDen ostensibly revolves around the historical Genpei War from Japanese history, and involves Taira no Kagekiyo fighting the evil Minamoto no Yoritomo and the Minamoto clan across Japan.
The game features three modes of play: "side mode", a small-scale action platforming section; "big mode", a large-scale fighting section comparable to the Taito coin-op Gladiator, usually featuring a boss battle; and "flat mode", an overhead-view section. In all three sections the goal is to destroy enemies, collect items, and reach the end before the life bar (represented by burning candles) runs out.
The player travels through the Japanese countryside fighting enemies as they appear. Most stages have torii, which are used to transport the player to a different stage. On most stages featured in Side Mode and Flat Mode, there are multiple torii that can be entered which will lead to different routes on the map. In Big Mode, however, there is only one torii at the end of this type of stage. The game also features the Sanzu River, a place believed in Japanese Buddhism to separate "the current life" and "the afterlife", resembling the concept of the Underworld or Hell (the river is often compared to the river Styx in Greek mythology). Therefore, some mythological characters like Emma-o (閻魔大王; literally "Enma Dai-o"), god of the Underworld, and the Sun Goddess Amaterasu appear in the game.
Over the course of the game Kagekiyo can assemble the Imperial Regalia of Japan (三種の神器 Sanshu no Jingi ), three sacred treasures from Japanese mythology that Kagekiyo must obtain them to be able to defeat his nemesis, Yoritomo. The three treasures are the Yasakani no Magatami, Yata no Kagami, and Kusanagi no Tsurugi. The Yasakani no Magatami (八坂瓊曲玉) is a curved bead that represents benevolence. The Yata no Kagami (八咫鏡) is a sacred mirror that represents wisdom. Lastly, the Kusanagi no Tsurugi (草薙剣) is a legendary Japanese sword (analogous to the British Excalibur) that represents valor. These three treasures are a recurring aspect of the series.
Similarities to GetsuFumaDen
GenpeiTomaDen has been cited as the main influence for GetsuFumaDen, and many aspects of the latter are drawn heavily from the former.
- It features three primary modes of play (side-scrolling platformer levels, top-down maze-like levels, and side-scrolling action levels with more advanced combat and no platforming which house the game's bosses), a format that GetsuFumaDen copied, swapping out the blown-up side-scrolling action levels for the 3D dungeon mazes.
- Genpei Tōma Den also opens with an old woman relating the story to the player, explaining that historical samurai Taira no Kagekiyo is being revived to exact revenge for his clan after his death during the Genpei War. Kagekiyo is portrayed as a samurai in demon-faced armor with long red hair, has attacks that send out kanji at his enemies, and fights a variety of enemies based on Japanese folklore and mythology, similar to those that would later appear in GetsuFumaDen and Undying Moon.
- GetsuFumaDen also has a similar bonus stage to GenpeiTomaDen, featuring a deity moving back and forth dropping items and money for a time.
- Many enemies in GetsuFumaDen are drawn from GenpeiTomaDen. While the enemies are all inspired by Japanese folklore for the most part, GetsuFumaDen features many of the same creatures with similar looks.
- Over the course of the game, Kagekiyo must collect the three sacred treasures in order to defeat Yoritomo, culminating in the Kusanagi sword that allows Kagekiyo to fire out waves from his sword. Similarly, Getsu Fuma must collect the three family heirloom Hadou katana, culminating in his ability to fire energy waves from his blade.
- Finally, Genpei Tōma Den uses torii to signify the end of a level, transporting Kagekiyo to the next area.
Side and Flat mode
- Gaikotsu (骸骨)
- Saito Musashibo Benkei (西塔武蔵坊弁慶)
- Minamoto no Yoshitsune (源義経)
- Biwa Houshi (琵琶法師)
- Minamoto no Yoritomo (源頼朝)
- Computer Board Game - In October 1988, Namco released a version of Genpei Tōma Den for the Family Computer titled Genpei Tōma Den Computer Board Game. Packaged with a physical cloth game board, cards, and metallic player figures molded after Kagekiyo, it takes the form of a virtual board game where players compete against each other to conquer all of Japan. Whereas Genpei Tōma Den was a side-scrolling action game, Computer Board Game is instead a role-playing game, where players engage in battles with enemies and purchase items and equipment from stores. The idea for the game came from Namco designer Yuichiro Shinozaki wanting to further expand on the lore and world of the original game.
- Samurai-Ghost - Known in Japan as The Genji and Heike Clans: Vol. 2 (源平討魔伝 巻ノ弐 Genpei Tōma Den: Kan no Ni ), Samurai-Ghost is a 1992 hack and slash video game released by Namco for the TurboGrafx-16, and a sequel to Genpei Tōma Den. As with the previous game, the player controls the resurrected samurai Taira no Kagekiyo, defeating demons and monsters across several levels. Given his undead nature, Kagekiyo has access to supernatural powers such as levitation and the ability to cast energy projectiles. Samurai-Ghost has a similar plot to its predecessor, in that Kagekiyo fights against Minamoto no Yoshitsune, Saitō Musashibō Benkei, and his arch enemy Minamoto no Yoritomo. Kagekiyo now also faces Minamoto no Yoshinaka (also known as Kiso no Yoshinaka), who commits seppuku when defeated. Additionally, some enemies were promoted in importance, such as the Daimajin being upgraded from a sub-boss to a full boss, and Onihime going from a flat stage enemy to a major character and boss battle.
- Namco Super Wars - Namco Super Wars (ナムコスーパーウォーズ) is a tactical role-playing game developed by Namco and published by Bandai for the Wonderswan Color on October 31, 2002 . It is a crossover game, featuring characters from several classic Namco titles, including Kagekiyo as one of the starting party members and including many other characters from the GenpeiTomaDen series. Unique to this title is Kagekiyo's lack of his traditional face paint around his mouth.
- Namco × Capcom - Namco × Capcom (pronounced as "Namco Cross Capcom") is a tactical role-playing (RPG) crossover video game developed by Monolith Soft for the PlayStation 2 and published by Namco in 2005. The gameplay combines tactical RPG and action sequences during battles, featuring characters from video game series owned by Namco and Capcom. The narrative sees original characters Reiji Arisu and Xiaomu, operatives for paranormal investigative group Shinra, confront distortions bringing characters from other realities into their own. Like Namco Super Wars, Kagekiyo is one of the principal characters and other members of the GenpeiTomaDen cast play parts in the ongoing narrative.
Other appearances in media
- Adventure Game Book - GenpeiTomaDen received an entry in the popular choose your own adventure series of game books alongside GetsuFumaDen and Konami Wai Wai World.
- Tales series - In Tales of Eternia (known as Tales of Destiny II in the U.S.), he appeared in the Aifread's Tomb dungeon, along with Rick Taylor from the Splatterhouse series, to prevent the player from advancing through certain doorways. In Tales of Phantasia: Narikiri Dungeon, there is a Kagekiyo costume to be worn.
- Soul series - Kagekiyo's armor also appears in the character creation mode of Soulcalibur III, in which it is possible to create a character in his likeness.
- Tekken series - In Tekken 6, it is possible to customize the character Yoshimitsu in order to make him similar to Kagekiyo.
- Namco High - Kagekiyo appears as a non-playable character in Namco High, a freemium browser-based dating sim developed by What Pumpkin Studios and Date Nighto LLC, and published by ShiftyLook featuring various classic Namco characters.
- Scar - The series was resurrected as a webcomic, as part of Namco Bandai's ShiftyLook series, titled Scar, featuring a reimagined plot involving cyborgs and a technologically advanced version of feudal Japan.
- Ridge Racer V - A remixed version of the game music was included in Ridge Racer V.
- Pac-Man 99 - A theme based on Genpei Tōma Den, featuring several of the game's characters, is featured in Pac-Man 99 as special DLC.
- Just as GetsuFumaDen drew heavily from GenpeiTomaDen, GenpeiTomaDen in turn paid reference to one of its forbearers, in this case the popular 1979 arcade game Heiankyo Alien, a Pac-Man-like maze game (though predating Pac-Man by a year) in which players control a Heian period police officer who must defend the capital city Heian-kyō (平安京) from an alien invasion by digging holes in the ground and filling them back up after an alien falls inside. GenpeiTomaDen pays tribute by featuring the titular aliens among its enemy roster. The influential title has had ports, remakes, and the occasional sequel over the years. The aliens also make a fitting appearance in the GenpeiTomaDen theme for Pac-Man 99.