Did you think that Sangokushi 3 was kind of strange, being an unlicensed South Korean Master System cartridge with lots of English dialogue? That was rather unexpected but it doesn’t even compare to Jang Pung 3 (장풍３), which tells the story of the world’s best fighters getting together to hold a tournament which will determine who is a good enough martial artist to fight against an evil robot named Sell, created by Nazi cultists to destroy the world.
It’s pretty difficult to believe what you’re seeing when the text scroll begins after starting the game, although it’s story isn’t really that bizarre by the standards of video games, particularly games in the fighting genre. The strange thing is to see references to Nazism and the Third Reich in relation to a fighting cyborg and a martial arts tournament. Fighting games, even with contemporary settings, tend to not tether themselves to anything as real as the Nazis. That’s a good thing, actually. Putting something as serious as the Nazis in a game about badass karate experts fighting each other to decide who will fight an evil robot actually makes it way harder for me to take it seriously.
But as a game, Jang Pung 3 is an improvement over Sangokushi 3. The character selection is larger and there seems to be a little bit more difference in how the characters play. One of the problems with Sangokushi 3 and other poorly made fighting games are that the characters are almost interchangeable; the converse is unbalance to the point that all but a few characters are completely useless. The characters in Jang Pung 3 are still a bit too similar, all having similar jump heights and damage ratios, but at least some of the characters have moves that have different applications. And the character designs are pretty funny, particularly the evil clown.
If Jang Pung 3 and Sangokushi 3 are not made by the same people, they are clearly derived from the same code, as they share graphics and even English phrasing for the post fight messages (the same in both games, the same after every fight). I haven’t played Jang Pung 2, but it’s out there (no word on Jang Pung 1), and I imagine that it’s probably running on the same engine.
It’s worth noting that these games are a result of the popularity of Street Fighter 2 in South Korea. Making video games to compete with Street Fighter 2 was nothing unusual, American companies made more than a few, and there was an American film adaptation, and then a game adaptation of the movie. But when it comes to strangeness, nothing really beats Nazi robots, or for that matter, early nineties South Korean television, as we shall see very soon.