I guess you could say that Anne Lee's #PlatforMonth has inspired me a bit since it was announced late last month. In the last week, I've not only written and published a pair of posts crammed full of platformer recommendations for folks who are planning to participate in this particular "community game-along," but I've also--gasp!--played a number of games that could be considered part of this most classic of genres.
Because the bulk of the platformers I've played in the last few days have been of the PC Engine variety, I thought I'd compile my (sometimes pithy) impressions of them here.
Chozetsu Rinjin Berabo Man--There's no denying this side-scrolling platformer, known as Bravo Man in the States, never much appealed to me before TheGameroomBlitz suggested it in the comments section of this recent post. To be frank, screenshots of it (and, really, video of it, too) make it look like a complete turd. That, combined with the rather terrible word of mouth that surrounds this Namco-made HuCard, has been more than enough to keep me from giving it a go. Until last week, I mean. So, now that I've finally played it, what do I think of it? Surprisingly, I kind of like it. It's a low-rent game, no doubt about it, and it has a whole host of issues--the super-hero-ish protagonist is large and slow, the graphics are on the messy side--but it also has a certain charm to it that makes it more enjoyable than it has any right to be. In large part, that's due to Berabo Man's elastic limbs, which are used to dispatch enemies in lieu of a more traditional gun or laser, but for me it's also due to this game's curious cast of characters, which includes absurdly small tanks, cartoonishly squat ninjas and some other odd-looking creatures that look remarkably similar to Fantasy Zone's Opa-Opa.
Doraemon Nobita no Dorabian Night--Here's another PC Engine platformer that I've ignored over the years due to what I considered to be subpar graphics. In action, though, they're actually rather nice, if still slightly rough around the edges. Nobita no Dorabian Night's gameplay is similarly "acceptable," with some aspects being pretty interesting--Doraemon's stun gun being one of them--and others, like the overall blandness of the action at hand, being less so. At the end of the day, Nobita no Dorabian Night feels like PC Genjin's less accomplished cousin, which isn't exactly the worst thing you could say about a PC Engine platformer, if you ask me.
Dragon Egg!--Like the titles mentioned above, this NCS-developed platformer isn't all that impressive at first blush. The dark graphics and stiff controls made me think I was playing a bottom-shelf Mega Drive (Genesis) game early on, which wasn't what I was expecting based on some of the positive impressions I've read elsewhere. A few stages later, though, my opinion did a 180. That's when I'd collected enough power-ups to transform the lowly egg the Sayo-chan-esque protagonist had been using as a weapon up to that point into a small, Yoshi-like dragon who gladly popped his head out of a sack and aimed his fiery breath at any and all enemies in her path. That one detail was enough for me to add this game to my lengthy "to buy" list (so far I've only experienced it via emulation), despite the fact that I've only completed a few levels so far.
Genji Tsushin Agedama--What kept me from giving this colorful conundrum (it's part shmup, part platformer, after all) a proper once-over until recently? I honestly have no idea. It couldn't have been its graphics, which are both well drawn and brilliantly hued. Maybe it was its mouthful of a name, which just doesn't have the same appealing ring to it that games like Bravo Man and Dragon Egg! do? Regardless, I'm now beating myself up over that idiotic oversight, as Genji Tsushin Agedama seems to be a real gem of a PC Engine game (based on the few stages I've played through thus far, at least). The auto-scrolling levels do take some getting used to, it has to be said, but once that's out of the way the game is a thoroughly and surprisingly enjoyable romp.
Momotaro Katsugeki--Here's a HuCard I first played a few years ago due to a random recommendation I can't fully recall at the moment, only to find it decidedly underwhelming. Upon picking it up again last week, though, I had at least a slight change of heart. I still find it less thrilling than some folks do, but I now appreciate all of the things it brings to the PC Engine-platformer table, such as its colorfully diverse backdrops and its similarly varied actions and obstacles. This is another game that brings to mind the famed PC Genjin (Bonk's Adventure outside of Japan) series, by the way, and not only because of its visuals, although the titular Momotaro's projectile weapon (a peach-flinging sword, I believe) helps to give Katsugeki a different feel than its prehistoric predecessor.
Pac-Land--I have surprisingly vivid memories of encountering the arcade version of this game for the first time in a faraway arcade as a teen. This was back before the Internet clued us into every last release, mind you, and as such the very sight of a Pac-Man-themed platformer blew my young mind. I share this because I have a feeling it'll help explain my decades-long interest in this particular title, which is unabashedly derided by pretty much every other person on the planet. Yes, the bulk of Pac-Land's graphics look as though they were created by a five-year-old with very little artist talent. Yes, its gameplay alternates between boringly basic and hair-pullingly challenging (in the "cheap" sort of way). Still, I get a kick out of booting it up and running through at least a handful of its stages every now and then. That may be nostalgia talking, I admit, but I honestly think there's a little more to it than that--although probably only just a little.
Have any of you played the aforementioned PC Engine platformers? If so, please feel free to share some of your thoughts on them in the comments section below.
If you haven't played some or even any of them, maybe you should consider doing so as part of Anne's #PlatforMonth game-along event?