1988 Ariolasoft / U.S. Gold
Platform: Atari ST, Commodore Amiga, PC, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64
Bushido Warrior (or potentially just Bushido) was a new oriental themed Gauntlet clone that was due out for a wide number of platforms, published by Ariolasoft/U.S. Gold. The Commodore 64 edition is already well documented via our GTW64 page.
Although a Gauntlet clone, it was more than just a clone – and it seems that the entire 16-bit editions may have been based off the Gauntlet conversion codebase. Computer and Video Games magazine spoke with the ST developers, Graham Lilley and Teoman Irmak in August 1987.
At the end – they were asked what their plans were next, and Teoman responded:
“We’re working on a new arcade game, also for the ST, called Bushido which is Japanese for ‘the way of war making’. It should be finished sometime in the autumn and will again be published by Adventure Soft.”
We knew for years that Bushido/Bushido Warrior was a Gauntlet clone thanks to Gary Yorke, who in 2006 confirmed that himself and James Poole were overseeing the developments of the game for Ariolasoft. Patricia Curtis then later confirmed her involvement with the C64 edition, though didn’t recall interacting with Gary/James at all.
Sadly Patricia (and artist Stephen Hall) confirmed no longer having anything of the development, though when meeting Patricia at Crash Live 2023, she revealed that screenshots of the game had been published in a French magazine called TILT in 1988. She fired over the scan in question.
As you can see from the gallery, the game is clearly a Gauntlet clone and could well have been based upon the ST code of the original arcade conversion done by Graham and Teoman. Surely it cannot be a co-incidence, what with it being from around the same time, the Gauntlet links and the U.S. Gold links? Unfortunately the article did not name any developers, but it go into some details about the game itself.
The game was described as an arcade/adventure game where you must save four princesses imprisoned against their will. Obeying the Bushido code, the samurai code of chivalry, you volunteer to rescue these famous prisoners.
You would be able to choose between two samurai (or play together with two players) in the form of Ven-uf and Ming-pu. The latter is a specialist in throwing shurikens, and the other at throwing knives. Both also have a samurai sword which can be used in hand-to-hand combat.
Starting off in a garden and where a superbly animated tiger walks past peacefully, you have to explore around 104 levels to try and find the princesses. Doors and stairs are found on all levels, where some doors can only be opened with keys of a certain colour. Opening chests will enable you to gain magical powers, to increase your strike force or your endurance. As with Gauntlet, there is also food dotted around to improve your health.
Dotted around are also magic flags. Red flags increase your combativeness, green flags allow you walk through walls, blue flags increase your life points and yellow flags give you the possibility of changing positions by placing your opponent elsewhere on the map (useful when an enemy is blocking a path).
Then there are the pots. Large ones contain food and keys, small red pots freeze opponents for a few seconds and green pots can reverse certain actions (i.e. eating food makes you lose life points, whilst hits increase them!). Using magic, you can summon four warriors (Junshi) to fight alongside you for a brief period. On top of this, there would be a variety of enemies in the form of ronins, samurai, soldiers and more.
TILT seemed to see a working demo at the time, where they described there being excellent animation, good multi-directional scrolling and a very pleasant burst of colours. Interestingly, its mentioned that the intro music was by the group INXS, though its not clear if this was temporary and not officially included at the time. Overall, the game sounded like (and looked like) an impressive build upon the Gauntlet engine.
The game was slated for release in October 1988, but of course would never happen. Perhaps Atari were not happy with how close it was to Gauntlet? Or were there other issues still yet to be uncovered? Patricia suggests that they sent the completed game (C64) to Ariolasoft, but the company collapsed before it could be released.
Were any other conversions under way at the time as well as the ST and C64 ones? (if so, who was behind them?) If you know anything more about this game – please do get in touch.
With thanks to Patricia Curtis for highlighting the scans and Abandonware magazines for the hi-res scan.