The debut of the Turbo Grafx-16 was a tough launch for NEC. This was probably due to a couple of reasons, one, this was their first console and not ever launch title is going to be a hit with fans. Secondly, their lack of understanding what North American gamers wanted hurt throughout the consoles’ life. It didn’t help at all that the Japanese parent company was pulling the strings as far as what was released here and what wasn’t (this could be why we didn’t get Street Fighter II, anything from Konami and many other Japan exclusives). China Warrior is surely one of those titles that was a “direct order” from Japan to release. Effectively, China Warrior is the “tech demo” for the Turbo Grafx-16, much like Altered Beast and Last Battle were for the Sega Genesis.
First, the sprites of China Warrior are huge, especially when considering the time gamers were first seeing this game. The problem is, as par for the course, graphics don’t make a great game and China Warrior is no different. Commercials (featured in this article) focused on comparing China Warrior to Kung-Fu on the Nintendo Entertainment System. This was somewhat deceptive since China Warrior is quite limited in scope, but the commercial is edited in such a way as to hide that fact.
The main character bears a striking resemblance to Bruce Lee, though that does not make China Warrior any better.
Players walk to the right, punch and kick enemies that appear, and repeat through the 12 stages. No one will blame you for skipping this blip on the launch radar for the Turbo Grafx-16, every other title was better.