Lost Atomiswave fighter KenJu ported to Dreamcast

The number of Atomiswave games ported to the Dreamcast continues to grow, and one of the latest offerings from developer megavolt85 over at Dreamcast-Talk is one we thought deserved a bit of attention. 

KenJu is a 3D fighting game from DreamFactory which was intended for release on Sammy's arcade system, but was apparently cancelled before it could be launched into brick and mortar arcades. The KenJu story has a happy ending though, as you can now get a glimpse at this fairly enigmatic polygonal scrapper either on actual Dreamcast hardware or via emulation! Here's a video of some (ham-fisted) gameplay by yours truly:

There's not a great deal known about KenJu, other than it was in development by DreamFactory (of Tobal No. 1 fame), who for unknown reasons decided not to release the game and consign it to the dustbin of history. Until now, that is. As far as I can ascertain, KenJu was due to hit arcades in 2005 before it mysteriously vanished without trace. KenJu did resurface in 2016 when a collector of Atomiswave boards released footage of it running, and then it slipped back into obscurity once more. The game has a fairly appealing visual style, with psuedo cel-shaded polygonal characters fighting in some nice looking 3D arenas.

The general consensus is that KenJu looks a little like Project Justice: Rival Schools 2, but for me that's pretty much where the similarities end. It has some interesting characters and plays pretty well, but it seems to be missing that certain something...which may hint at the reasons for why it was quietly canned. That said, it's quite good fun and the fact that the Dreamcast is able to recreate the game so flawlessly opens up the door for even more ambitious Atomiswave games such as Premier Eleven. Who thought we'd ever see the day the Dreamcast got a decent footy (soccer) game?!

It's worth noting that as with the other Atomiswave to Dreamcast ports released so far, KenJu is only available as a GDI file, so you'll need some additional hardware to play it on an actual Dreamcast. Personally, I had no joy getting the game to run under either DreamShell or RetroDream using both a Compact Flash modded system or an SD Card reader via the Dreamcast's serial port. It did however run using a GDEMU, so you may want to give that method a go if you're determined to play KenJu on original (well, original modded) hardware. That minor hiccup aside, KenJu seems to be perfectly playable and also mostly complete.

If you'd like to download the game for yourself, visit the Dreamcast-Talk forum thread here. Huge thanks once again to megavolt85 and other forum members who not only continue to expand the Dreamcast collection, but are also preserving some of the Atomiswave's most intriguing and lesser known titles.

Have you played KenJu on your Dreamcast or on an emulator? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!


Unknown said...

Love these. Had gotten used to Joshprod porting over essentially freeware crap titles and charging a premium for them because reasons. These are actual games, DC community just has so many surprises.

J├║lioSlayer Oliveira said...

Force Five, another Atomiswave lost title, is even more impressive. Games like these shows what the developers could achieve on the Dreamcast if the supports continuing its natural cycle. Two relative low budget projects had, in some ways, visuals on par with a 2000 super production, like Dead or Alive 2. So we can just imagine what Devs like AM2, Sonic Team, Team Ninja, Melbourne Studios, Capcom, Ubisoft or Treyarch could do in its high profile games around 2002/2003. It's sad. The future that never happened. But we have some clues, with all the shumps post 2001 (like Under Defeat, Shikigami no Shiro II or Sturmwind), all Atomiswave games and some Naomi that unfortunately didn't have Dreamcast ports (like Dynamite Deka EX: Asian Dynamite).

DCGX said...

Yeah it would be nice if someone tried to legit release these. I have no idea what the legal parameters would be given all the companies and where rights might fall.

Matt said...

Its amazing theres new dreamcast releases still coming out

Unknown said...

Posted by Keith Courage in the DC-talk forums.

UPDATE! For SD serial port adapter.

Kenju works perfect if using dreamshell only. The Correct memory setting is 0x8CD00000. I figured out this memory setting by complete dumb luck. You can get dreamshell to save this setting if you create a shortcut to the desktop.