Game: Painter Momopie
Developer: Sigma Entertainment
Publisher: Sigma Entertainment
Release date: 1990
I've mentioned this game in so many posts over the last six months that I thought I finally should write and publish a formal review of it.
So, what's the first thing you should know about this little-known import? I'd say it's that the game, at its heart, is a late-to-the-party Pac-Man clone. Actually, a better way of stating things might be to say that it plays like an inverted version of that Namco classic. After all, rather than ridding each stage of something (pellets in the case of Pac-Man), in Painter Momopie your aim is to fill each stage with something--specifically, you're tasked with painting the floors of someone's home. (The titular Momopie's? I would guess so, but I'm not entirely sure.)
Sigma's "clone" apes its main source of inspiration in another important way, too--that being that the witchy protagonist is forced to avoid, as best she can, a slew of baddies who "kill" her upon touch. Unlike their counterparts in Pac-Man, though, the enemies found in Painter Momopie aren't simply color swaps of one another. Here they're distinct creatures with similarly distinct personalities and routines. A few examples: the blubbery ghosts that float through walls, the tittering mice that occasionally leave behind footprints that have to be cleaned up and the odd-looking baddies known as "ojari" that drop deadly puffs of dust in their wake.
That isn't the only example of how this portable effort differs from its quarter-munching predecessor. Another: Painter Momopie's stages aren't abstract realities like those that appear in Pac-Man. In fact, as I mentioned earlier, the ones in the former seem to be the actual rooms of someone's house. The whole she-bang begins in the kitchen, for instance, then moves to the hallway, a couple of bedrooms and more. I wouldn't go so far as to describe these constructions as being anything close to ornate, but they get the job done and they're more visually intriguing than Pac-Man's neon-colored corridors, so I'm not about to complain.
Momopie's individual levels also are far less rigid than the ones found in Namco's genre king, with rooms laid out in a more organic and asymmetrical fashion. That's generally a good thing, by the way, but not always, as sometimes I find myself longing for even a couple of them to be a bit more structured so I can zone out like I do when I play, say, Ms. Pac-Man. (Because, really, who plays Pac-Man when they have access to his wife's game?)
What else should you know about Painter Momopie before spending your hard-earned dollars on a copy of it (or, you know, before you search for and download the ROM--hey, I'm not judging)? Well, it looks quite nice, even if it's far from a stunner. I especially like Momopie's sprite, for whatever reason.
Its soundtrack isn't quite so impressive, sadly. The tunes are jaunty enough, but they stick around too long--you have to listen to the same one over and over again for seven stages before a new one pops up. Granted, games like Bubble Bobble force you to listen to the same track from start to finish, so it seems harsh to complain about Momopie's situation, but then again the latter's music can't hold a candle to former's so maybe that's the real issue here.
The only other thing I can think of to say here is that you've got to stick with Painter Momopie a bit before it shows its teeth, so to speak. The first seven stages are a veritable cakewalk, but things do become more difficult after that. So, if your only quibble early on is that it's a bit too easy, play a few more levels before deciding to hang on to it or give it the heave-ho.
See also: previous 'Great Gaymathon' reviews