Kenseiden (aka Legend of the Swordmaster also known as Hwarang-ui Geom in South Korea), is an action adventure game with great graphics and sound released only for Sega Master System in 1988.
STORY / GAMEPLAY You are Hayato, a samurai who lives in a peaceful village. But this peace and galore is compromised by evil warlocks and spirits that plague Japan of the 16th Century. The warlocks attacked your village and stole the five Secret Scrolls and the Sword of the Dragon Lord. Hayato, a dragon-born hero, must now recover the Scrolls and the Sword, eliminate his enemies and finally kill Oda Nobunaga. Kenseiden is a classic action platform game with some adventure touches comprised of sixteen different levels. Apart from the incoming Samurai, skeleton and spiders hordes, Hayato must also watch for deadly traps and pits. Nothing is more frustrating than jumping over a pit...only to be hit in mid-air and knocked into your... doom! This game requires some skills and to memorize patterns in each level since if you get hit once you'll have to start the area all over again. At the end of each level you are called to fight a Warlock or one of their henchmen. One unique feature in this game is that you can choose your own path through the story and thus progression is not linear. After completing a level you'll gain the ability to choose among multiple paths or even to backtrack.
GRAPHICS / SOUND The graphics are nicely presented, featuring colorful backgrounds and sprites. I particularly liked the smooth sprites' animation and the fluid background scrolling. Each stage is well detailed offering (mostly static) Japanese Medieval-style indoor and outdoor scenes. The sound is cool too composed with some nicely done Japanese-style tunes and a variety of typical hack 'n slash sound effects during gameplay.
In-game music sample:
Sega Master System
CPU: 8-bit Zilog Z80A at 3.546893 MHz for PAL/SECAM, 3.579545 MHz for NTSC MEMORY: Boot ROM: 64 kbit (8 KB) to 2048 kbit (256 KB) Main RAM: 64 kbit (8 KB), can be supplemented by game cartridges Video RAM: 128 kbit (16 KB) GRAPHICS: Texas Instruments TMS9918A Up to 32 colors on screen (one 16-color palette for sprites or background, an additional 16-color palette for background only) from a palette of 64 (can also show 64 simultaneous colors using programming tricks) Screen resolutions 256x192 and 256x224. PAL/SECAM also supports 256x240 8x8 pixel characters, max 463 (due to VRAM space limitation) 8x8 or 8×16 pixel sprites, max 64 Horizontal, vertical, and partial screen scrolling SOUND: Texas Instruments SN76489, 4 Texas Instruments SN76489, 4 channel mono sound Yamaha YM2413, mono FM synthesis