Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Robbit Mon Dieu (Playstation)

 Everyone loves the Jumping Flash games, right? The early Playstation releases that brought a splash of colour to the normally dour world of the first person shooter, their only big downside being the draw distance that had barely improved from their genetic forbear Geograph Seal, and restricted the player's field of vision to barely a few metres in front of their noses. Luckily, there was another sequel, released only in Japan in 1999 that corrects that problem! Unluckily, it's also a very, very boring game to play.


As I just mentioned, the Jumping Flash games stood out amongst other first person shooters by being bright, colourful games, set in fanciful wonderlands. They also stood out by not only have a jump button, but by letting players use it to triple jump to incredible heights. Robbit Mon Dieu, unfortunately does away with almost all of the shooting of the previous games, and in fact pretty much all of the action and even the challenge of those games along with it. A first person game focussed on platforming is still a fairly novel concept, especially in 1999, but not like this.


I feel like the problem might lie in a shift in the demographics the publishers were targeting: as a game aimed at the under-fives, Robbit Mon Dieu would actually be one of the all-time greats. It sees you fulfilling simple tasks like delivering a package to someone who lives up on a floating island, tackling obstacle courses, diving off a high platform and falling through hoops, and so on. There's a few stages that technically have you shooting things, but since those things don't shoot back or offer any other kind of resistance, it's hard to really consider them shooting stages.


 Though it's odd that they'd aim a game at such a young audience and use characters from a pre-existing game that was a few years old itself at that point. Furthermore, there is a lot of text in this game, including menus, mission briefings (though obviously, most of the missions are simple enough that you can easily work them out without being able to read them), and story text. So I'm going to assume that the game was aimed at pre-existing Jumping Flash fans.


And with that in mind, it's a total failure. Unless the aesthetics were literally the only thing that drew you to the Jumping Flash games, and you don't care about how they play, Robbit Mon Dieu is not worth bothering with. It does look amazing, but that's pretty much all it does. Not recommended.

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Simple V Series Vol. 2 The Tousou Highway Full Boost - Nagoya-Tokyo Gekisou 4-Jikan (PS Vita)

 That incredibly long title means it's once again time to look at that most beloved of budget game franchises, the Simple Series! It's a bit of a sad entry this one, too, since as far as I can tell, Simple V Series Vol. 2 The Tousou Highway Full Boost - Nagoya-Tokyo Gekisou 4-Jikan is actually the last ever Simple Series game. It's also  a part of the same subseries as a game I've covered in the past, the post-apocalyptic longhaul road trip Simple 2000 Series Vol. 112: The Tousou Highway 2 ~Road Warrior 2050~. Which means that it's also a Tamsoft game! We all love Tamsoft, right?


Anyway, like Road Warrior 2050, it' another longhaul road trip, though this time it's set in present-day Japan, and as far as I can tell you're getting briefcases to deliver them to the yakuza so that they'll release your secretary, who they've lock in a dungeon. While Road Warrior 2050's journey was punctuated by occasionaly sections where you fought waves of enemies on foot, Full Boost breaks up the long drive in a variety of other ways.


The game's main gimmick is that it's not intended for you to complete the whole journey in one car. Most of the vehicle types get damaged very quickly, and all of them have alarmingly small fuel tanks. Obviously, a car with no fuel can't go anywhere, and also if you're in a car when it explodes, that's an instant game over. Furthermore, a car's maximum speed gradually reduces as its fuel meter and structural integrity decrease. So, you get out of the car, and try to steal another one. This is a part of the game that's a little sloppy, though, as the only reliable way of getting a car to stop long enough for you to get into it is to let it run you over. Inexplicably, this doesn't hurt you at all.


Of course, the police aren't going to just let you go on your highway carjacking rampage, and they'll regularly come along to try and spoil your fun. If a police officer catches you on foot, or pulls you out of a stationary vehicle, they'll try and handcuff you, and getting free reduces your stamina a little. Running also reduces your stamina. Despite all this, it seems like the developers wanted to create a non-violent game, as you have no way of keeping the police away, even temporarily. So if there happens to be a few officers around while you're trying to switch to a new vehicle, it can be a little awkward and very difficult to get away with it.


The last thing I want to talk about is the power up system. There are power-ups strewn about the roads here and there, and collecting them progresses a Gradius-style power up chooser along the bottom of the screen, with four different things to choose from. You might be tempted by the quick thrill of selecting Boost every time you pick up an item, but honestly, it's worth saving up four of them each time to get the last option, Guard. What this option does is gives your current vehicle an impenetrable rainbow forcefield, increases your top speed to how it would be if your car was undamaged and full of fuel, and it stops your fuel meter from depleting while it's in effect. Practical and fun!


The Tousou Highway Full Boost isn't some grand swansong for the illustrious Simple Series to bow out on, but it is emblematic of the series at its best: it's a fun, unpretentious game with a lot of low budget b-movie charm. I do recommend giving it a shot, though it's a download-only Japan-only PS Vita game, so its legal accessibility isn't great, and it's only going to get worse as Sony continue their policy of gradually pretending the system never existed. Still, if you can get ahold of it, you should. It's fun.