It sometimes amazes me how many PC Engine games I initially ignored due to what I considered sub-par graphics. Jigoku Meguri is one such title. Gokuraku! Chuka Taisen is another, as is Obocchama-kun.
The funny thing is, all of the above-mentioned games have since become favorites.
Some of you may be shocked to hear that I include Taito's Hana Tāka Daka!? from 1991 in this bunch. After all, this horizontal shoot 'em up could hardly be called ugly. Its does take a while to get used to its unique visual stylings, though--or at least that was the case for me.
That's mainly due to the game's rather unappealing protagonist. What can I say, his big eyes, long nose and dangling, geta-hooved feet just don't do it for me--and on top of that, he's positively huge (compared to his surroundings) when it comes to this particular genre.
Speaking of this game's surroundings, I used to find them pretty unappealing, too--mainly due to their chunkiness, for lack of a better word, as well as their garish use of color.
How did I get over these supposed shortcomings? It finally dawned on me that Taito was a top-notch game developer and that maybe I should give some of their less appealing (at first blush, at least) efforts--like this one--a second or even third chance before deciding they weren't worth my time.
Once that was out of the way, I basically fell in love with Hana Tāka Daka!? and its charmingly weird cast of characters, setting and even gameplay (although the latter definitely is the least captivating aspect of this now-pricey HuCard, thanks to its rather pedestrian--although by no means boring or bad--mechanics).
I say "basically" because a few sticking points remain for me, with the most newsworthy being that the game puts up a pretty stiff challenge despite its candy-coated visuals.
That's rarely completely kept me from enjoying a game in the past, though, so I'm not about to let it keep me from enjoying this one. Just don't expect me to publish a post about "beating" Hana Tāka Daka!? anytime soon.
I'm also not the biggest fan of the way the game forces players to choose between having inadequate firepower and a small hitbox (i.e., a tiny protagonist-slash-"ship") and having ample firepower and a gigantic hitbox. This wouldn't be much of a problem if Hana Tāka Daka!? were a pushover, of course, but it's not, so a lack of firepower is sure to be an issue for those who aren't shmup gods or goddesses.
Aside from this colorful side-scroller's handful of negatives, there are a good number of positives associated with it too, such as its pleasantly discordant soundtrack and its surprisingly complex level design.
To those of you who've also spent a bit of time with this title: do you agree with the above, or do you have a different opinion Taito's effort here?
See also: previous 'Second Chances' posts