Tag Archives: Taito

Halloween-ish HuCards (and CDs)

It’s that time of year again–i.e., the time of year when I spend way too much time searching for games that will put me in a Halloween mood.

Thankfully, a good number of such games were released for the PC Engine during its heyday. Here are the ones I’ll be playing (or be thinking of playing, at least) in the run-up to this year’s All Hallows’ Eve:

Cotton (Hudson Soft/Success, 1993)–There are two main reasons this cute shmup would earn a regular spot in my PC Engine Super CD-ROM2 system over the next few weeks if I still owned a copy of it: 1) It stars a broom-riding witch who has to fly through all sorts of dark and dreary environs in order to collect a bunch of missing gems, and 2) Said witch is obsessed with candy. Really, it’s the perfect game for such a spooky-and-sweet season.

Dracula X: Chi no Rondo (Konami, 1993)–I couldn’t very well create a list like this and not include on it a game that not only features Dracula’s name in its title but also features said vampire as its main villain, could I? I’d mention Dracula X here even if it didn’t involve that old bloodsucker, though–thanks in no small part to its Thriller-meets-Sleepy Hollow opening slavo.

Jigoku Meguri (Taito, 1990)–True story: I used to rather dislike this pixelated platformer, which follows a portly monk as he makes a perilous trek through hell. I changed my tune after giving it another try a month or so ago (expect to see a post about this epiphanic experience soon), though, and now consider it to be an appreciably dour counterpoint to a similar-yet-much-more-cheerful Taito-developed title: Mizubaku Daibouken.

Splatterhouse (Namcot, 1990)–The protagonist of this bloody beat ’em up looks like Friday the 13th‘s Jason Voorhees. That alone makes me want to play it this time of year. The game’s grotesque baddies–like the chainsaw-weidling dude showcased in the screenshot above–and creepy soundtrack are just the blood-spattered icing on this ghoulishly rotten (in a good way) cake.

I’d add NEC Avenue’s Horror Story and Human’s Laplace no Ma, a supposedly terror-ific dungeon crawler, to this list, but I’ve never played the former (important if I’m to know whether or not it’ll put me in a Halloween mood) and I don’t understand the language (Japanese) that’s likely required to make it through the latter.

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So, now what?

First, there were four–games at the top of my “to buy” list, that is. After I bought Mizubaku Daibouken, the list shrank to three. Then I bought Rainbow Islands and Gekisha Boy and it was down to two and then one.

Well, the list is no more thanks to my recent acquisition of Parasol Stars.

Which, I guess, begs the question asked in this post’s headline: So, now what? The answer, of course, is to add more games to my “to buy” list.

As of now, that list includes a few cheap-ish HuCards (Don Doko Don, The New Zealand Story and PC Denjin), a considerably more expensive HuCard (Coryoon) and a similarly pricey Arcade CD-ROM release (Madou Monogatari).

Although I’d love to run out and buy the last two games mentioned above as soon as possible, the more likely scenario involves me buying Don Doko Don, The New Zealand Story and PC Denjin over the next few months and then waiting until the end of the year to buy Madou Monogatari and Coryoon.

In the meantime, I’ll busy myself with the brazenly plucky Parasol Stars.

Note: check out this Flickr set for more photos of my PC Engine collection.

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PCE Review #2: Mizubaku Daibouken

Game: Mizubaku Daibouken
Genre: Platformer
Developer: Taito
Publisher: Taito
Format: HuCard
Release date: 1992

One way to translate the Japanese title of this game into English, or so I’ve been told, is to call it Water Bomb Adventure. That’s certainly an apt way to describe this quirky little platformer, which stars a platypus–yeah, I know the folks at Taito say he’s a hippopotomus, but there’s no way the paunchy protagonist is anything other than an Ornithorhynchus anatinus–who throws, you guessed it, giant balls of water at innumerable foes as he waddles through levels pulled from the pages of Platformers for Dummies. His journey–to rescue his kidnapped girlfriend, naturally–begins easily enough, with straightforward stages filled to the brim with enemies who put up little to no resistance, but it rapidly rachets up in intensity. That’s OK, though, because the Parasol Stars-esque sights you’ll see and the hummable tunes you’ll hear along the way help make it all worthwhile–assuming, of course, you didn’t drop too much cash to procure your copy of the game (an unfortunately all-too-common occurrence given its Bubble Bobble connection).

See also: Previous PCE Reviews

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PCE Review #1: Rainbow Islands

Game: Rainbow Islands
Genre: Platformer
Format: CD-ROM2
Developer: NEC Avenue
Publisher: NEC Avenue
Release date: 1993

Most platformers follow in Super Mario Bros’ hugely successful footsteps and scroll horizontally. Well, Fukio Mitsuji’s arcade classic–technically the first sequel to Bubble Bobble–turns that tried-and-true tradition on its head and scrolls vertically, much like those odd overworld sections of Kid Icarus that caused you to pull out your hair by the handful. (Or was that just me?) As much as I like that mythological Famicom Disk System title, though, it has nothing on Rainbow Islands, what with its titular arcs of light–which can be used as weapons and as platforms–shimmering, Wizard of Oz-esque soundtrack (i.e., the main theme sounds an awful lot like “Over the Rainbow“) and varied assortment of enemies and environments.

See also: Introducing: PCE Reviews

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Two down, two to go

Two months ago, I typed up a post (this one) in which I mentioned the four games at the top of my to-buy list: Gekisha Boy, Mizubaku Daibouken (aka Liquid Kids), Parasol Stars and Rainbow Islands.

Actually, the point of that post was to declare that I had acquired Mizubaku Daibouken, so I guess I should have said that it mentioned the three games at the top of my to-buy list.

Whatever. The point of this post: To gush about the fact that I’ve finally picked up a copy of Rainbow Islands.

Of all the games on the above-mentioned to-buy list, Rainbow Islands is, by far, my favorite. In fact, it’s probably one of my favorite games of all time–regardless of platform.

Unfortunately, my love for the game has yet to translate into anything approaching mastery of it. (Sad-but-true story: I can’t seem to get past the fifth stage.)

I’ll do my best to improve between now and when I (finally) buy the last two games on my famed to-buy list: Gekisha Boy and Parasol Stars.

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Second chances

I’m sure the following admission will shock a few of you PC Engine stalwarts, but I’m going to share it anyway: I’ve never been a big fan of New Zealand Story.

For starters, I’ve always thought the game looked a bit garish and rough–especially when compared with Taito’s other arcade classics of the same era, Bubble Bobble and Rainbow Islands. Second, its music and sound effects are, in my humble opinion, akin to an assault on the ears.

I don’t have anything negative to say about New Zealand Story‘s gameplay–other than it can, at times, be a tad too difficult–but it doesn’t really matter because the aforementioned niggles have been, until recently, more than enough to turn me off of the game.

So, what prompted me to give it another try a few weeks ago? I’m not entirely sure, although I think this review had something to do with it.

Now, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that my second and subsequent experiences with the game have pushed me to start a New Zealand Story fan club or anything like that, but they have helped me see it for what it is–a quality, if not exactly high-caliber, PC Engine platformer.

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Mizubaku Daibouken = Bubble Bobble 4?

At least, that’s what the editors of TurboPlay magazine suggested all the way back in 1992–just before Taito’s Mizubaku Diabouken (aka Liquid Kids) hit the streets in Japan.

My initial reaction to that suggestion was something along the lines of “nuh uh!”–but after giving it some consideration my reaction has softened a bit.

After all, the series’ other (actual) entries–Bubble Bobble, Rainbow Islands and Parasol Stars–don’t share enemies, protagonists, settings or weapons, so why would part four–with its waterbomb-wielding platypus–be any different?

All that said, Mizubaku Daibouken isn’t, as far as I can tell, officially called chapter four of the Bubble Bobble saga–although I suppose that may have been something the game’s creators considered early on.

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