As is true of a surprising number of PC Engine games, I turned up my nose at Son Son II for a good long time before coming around to it.
Which is strange, as in many respects it's the kind of game I usually fall in love with at first sight. After all, it's a platformer, its protagonist is cute as can be and it's slathered in bright, beautiful colors.
So why wasn't I a fan of this 1989 release until recently? One odd reason is that I used to really dislike games with HUDs or status bars that cover large swaths of the screen, which is very much the case for Son Son II. (To see what I mean, check out a few of screenshots over at pcengine.co.uk.)
Thankfully, I was able to put those negative feelings aside when I gave the game a second chance a year or two ago. And during that particular playthrough I came to the conclusion that Son Son II's actually pretty great.
Why? Although I described it as a platformer earlier, it is not a straightforward one. The focus here is on exploring each stage's long, winding and secret-filled maps. That makes the experience a lot more interesting than your typical side-scroller.
In the case of Son Son II, it also makes the experience quite a bit tougher than it would be otherwise, as the game is the opposite of a cakewalk.
Still, it's very much worth playing and owning. The latter's especially true when you consider Son Son II's packaging--i.e., its cover art and HuCard label.
Speaking of the former, which can be seen in this post's first photo, it's easily one of my favorite examples of PC Engine cover art.
It gives potential buyers and players a great idea as to what they're going to see and deal with when they boot it up on their trusty PC Engines.
I've got to admit I'm a bit disappointed the artists and designers at NEC Interchannel (the game's publisher; Capcom developed it) simply copied and pasted Son Son II's main illustrated onto its HuCard label.
At least they decided to change things up while producing its instruction manual--a sample page of which is showcased in the snapshot above.
Don't worry, I'll show off the rest of it in an upcoming "Manual Stimulation" post. I'll warn you now, though, that Son Son II's manual, while lovely, is distressingly short. Oh, well, anything is better than what we get these days, wouldn't you agree?
See also: previous 'Nice Package!' posts about Hana Taaka Daka!?, KiKi KaiKai and Parodius Da!