Monthly Archives: March 2011

The stuff of nightmares

A few weeks (or was it months?) ago, I published a list of what I consider to be the best HuCard cover art created during the PC Engine’s lifetime. Well, today I’m posting a list of what I consider to be the worst HuCard cover art conceived during those years.

Drop Rock Hora Hora (Data East, 1990)–This piece of cover art almost crosses the line from horrible to “so horrible it’s kind of good.” The key word in that sentence being almost. So, what keeps it from crossing that line? Well, that oh-so-80s sweatshirt worn by the boy in the lower-right corner is one reason; the rather comical expression on the monster behind him is another. I can’t quite decide, though, if the “evil fruit” floating along the left side of the image are further examples of the hideousness of this piece of art (yes, I’m using that word loosely in this case) or if they raise it a few notches on the attractiveness scale.

Kick Ball (NCS, 1990)–Full disclosure: Although a large part of me considers this particular piece of cover art to be nightmare-inducing, a small part considers it to be rather nice–in a “colorfully over-the-top” way, of course. Anyway, I don’t know if the former reaction is due to the overall shininess of the illustration–everyone and everything in the image looks like its been buffed and waxed–or if it’s due to the Mike Haggar look-a-like striking a pose front and center. Oh, who am I kidding? Mr. Haggar’s definitely the main reason this cover art leans heavily toward “scary as all hell” territory.

Puzzle Boy (Renovation, 1991)–There is one reason, and one reason only, I consider this piece of cover art to be nightmarish: The smile plastered on the face of that potato-like creature in the foreground! It reminds me of a similarly freaky smile I once saw in an episode of The Twilight Zone. Curiously, the other (seemingly evil) vegetables featured in this illustration have much less horrifying expressions on their faces. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

Rock On (Big Club, 1989)–This design was created by a middle-schooler using MS Paint, wasn’t it? That’s the only explanation I can come up with for it. OK, so most middle-schoolers wouldn’t have the skills to draw the dragon-like creature in the upper-left corner (or the anime reject in the lower-right corner), but I’ll bet a good number of them would be able to copy and paste those drawings into a Paint document and create something similar to what the designers at Big Club produced for this piece of cover art.

Ryukyu (Face, 1990)–Almost everybody likes a little ass now and then, but few people like that ass to be covered in the bikini equivalent of “granny panties.” The only thing missing from this piece of cover art, in my oh-so-humble opinion, is a field of cellulite. Or maybe some razor burn. Of course, I’m gay, so what do I know? Maybe straight guys really dig the cover art above?

Honorable mention: Devil Crash, Hatris, Shada and Sindibad.

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PCE Review #4: Obocchama Kun

Game: Obocchama Kun
Genre: Platformer
Developer: Pack-in Video
Publisher: Namcot
Format: HuCard
Release date: 1991

My first reaction upon playing this bizarre, Namcot-published platformer was, “Oh, hell no.” For starters, it’s kind of ugly. Not Superman 64 ugly, mind you, but it’s definitely uglier than your typical 16-bit game. That’s due, in large part, to the game’s homely protagonist–who bears a striking resemblance to Eddie Munster–as well as its garish use of color. The thing is, after a while you get over the hideousness of it all (or at least I did) and that’s when you realize that this Pack-in Video-developed title’s actually pretty fun. Even better, it’s interesting. It certainly isn’t the kind of me-too, mascot-centric platformer that clogged store shelves–and brought the genre to its knees–back in the 1990s. That’s evident from the start of the very first level, when a seizure-inducing scene introduces each of the stage’s featured enemies. Also setting this game apart from the platforming pack: The heavily browed Obocchama Kun doesn’t just grab power-ups like the protagonists in other, more predictable examples of the genre; rather, he beckons them by jumping onto what looks like a giant turtle shell and striking a decidedly Elvis-esque pose. Sometimes those poses produce power-ups and sometimes they summon allies–such as a blue-coifed bodybuilder, a crying teen who throws what appears to be hairbrushes and a helicopter-piloting Russian–that assist you through the stage at hand. Obocchama Kun‘s bosses–including what can only be called a chicken choker–are a similarly eccentric bunch. The game’s sometimes-slippery controls can make those encounters–and the stages that lead up to them–a bit more challenging than they would be otherwise, but even that quibble doesn’t keep it from being an enjoyably odd experience.

See also: Previous PCE Reviews

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