When I first discovered that someone had released a Magical Taruruuto-Kun title for the Game Gear, I was thrilled. After all, I've long loved the Game Freak-developed, Sega-published Mega Drive game based on this anime and manga franchise, so surely I'd also get a kick out of a portable iteration, right?
You'd think so, but my first impressions of Tsukuda Ideal's Game Gear title were far from favorable. It didn't help matters, of course, that this game isn't a platformer like its Mega Drive-based cousin is; instead, it's a shmup in the vein of Gradius (Parodius may be a better point of comparison). That's rarely an issue for me, though, so what prompted my less-than-thrilled initial reaction to this one?
For starters, when you first boot up Magical Taruruuto-Kun, it gives the impression that it's akin to My First Shmup. You see, your ship--actually a flying version of the series' protagonist--is overly large, as are most of the enemies that hurtle (OK, usually they simply meander) toward it, which makes the first stage, especially, seem both boring and a bit too easy.
That's where my first attempted playthrough ended, to tell you the truth. Then, a few weeks ago, I came across a copy of the game while perusing eBay, liked the cover art (what a surprise, right?) and decided to give it a second chance.
This time around, I forced myself past that opening level ... and discovered that, while it's still far from amazing, it's actually a nicely made little shmup.
One of the main reasons I say that is Magical Taruruuto-Kun's sprites are surprisingly well crafted considering they were produced by a company (Tsukuda Ideal) I'd never heard of before a few days ago. For example, in the first level, which is set in a school, rulers, staplers and fire extinguishers--all adorably adorned with cartoon eyes and mouths--serve to liven up the otherwise pedestrian surroundings.
The game's bosses--which include an anthropomorphic piano (see above), a haunted pirate ship and a giant tree--are similarly full of character, although the battles against them disappointingly take place against a plain white backdrop.
I'd still be hard-pressed to describe Magical Taruruuto-Kun's soundtrack or gameplay as anything approaching thrilling, but they're also far from tragic. As such, I have no regrets about picking up the complete-in-box copy I mentioned above shortly after I came across it. (Rest assured I'll share a few photos of its packaging as soon as it arrives on our doorstep.)
See also: previous 'Second Chances' posts