For far too long, I ignored Gussun Paradise--a Japanese PlayStation game developed and published by Irem--because I thought it was little more than another entry in the company's Gussun Oyoyo series of puzzler-platformers. (They're a bit like a mashup of Lemmings and Tetris, if you've never heard of or played them.)
That's not to suggest there's anything wrong with the Oyoyo games. I've only barely played one of them, but I enjoyed myself well enough while doing so and I plan to return to it at some point in time. Still, I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm eager to buy a second Gussun Oyoyo anytime soon.
Which is why, as I said at the beginning of this post, I've long turned up my nose at anything related to Gusson Paradise. That is, until I read Gamengai's painfully brief post about it, which describes this little-known (to me, anyway) curiosity thusly:
"Irem returns to the franchise ... for a Bubble Bobble-type single-screen action game. Using a party cracker, you stun your enemies and throw bombs on them. Unlike other games in the series, there are some power-ups which allow you to shoot lasers, suck in items, double jump, etc. To mix it up a little, the stages sometimes rotate and even turn upside down."
Admittedly, I stopped reading the post after seeing "Bubble Bobble-type single-screen action game" the first time through--partially because I'm a huge fan of "Bubble Bobble clones" and partially because Gamengai's post nearly caused me to choke on my morning coffee. (What can I say? I was stunned to discover that such an awesome-sounding single-screen platformer had previously escaped my attention.)
Like any self-respecting geek, I collected myself as quickly as possible and then made the rounds of the usual online game shops in search of a complete-in-box copy of Gusson Paradise. I found a few on ebay, but I wasn't entirely happy with the price tags that were attached to them.
Much more appealing was an offer put forth by one of Amazon.com's third-party sellers. So, I went ahead bought one. Said copy--which can be seen in the photos placed throughout this post--arrived right around the time my Japanese PSone showed up on the doorstep, and I've spent just an hour or so with it since then.
That hour or so of playtime was more enough time for me to figure out that Gamengai's aforementioned description was spot-on, but also that Gussun Paradise is sure to become one of my all-time favorite single-screen platformers.
Why? For starters, this game, like Bubble Bobble and its sequels (namely Rainbow Islands and Parasol Stars) is a cacophony of color. Its theme-park setting only adds to the positive visual impression, as do all of the animations--both big and small--that make the game seem perhaps more "alive" than any of its genre mates.
And, then, of course, there's the gameplay, which, during the initial stages at least, is more fun than it has any right to be--due in large part to the fact that it's simply a blast (pun intended) to stun each level's adorable enemies with the protagonist's trusty party popper and then toss bombs at them (or vice versa) to finish them off.
The only remaining question in my mind is whether or not the game will become sufficiently difficult before its end credits roll, as early on it's pretty darn (as in, perhaps too) easy.
I'll let you know my thoughts on that subject at a later date--likely in a future "Great Gaymathon" review. In the meantime, you might enjoy checking out this video, which shows off a bit of Gussun Paradise's gameplay, or this Hardcore Gaming 101 write-up, which covers the entire series.