Saturday, 28 September 2013

Kamen Rider Black - Taiketsu Shadow Moon

Obviously, the title is what attracted me to this game. Most Kamen Rider games are either based on the post-2000 series, or are based on the classic series, but made many years later (for example, the Kamen Rider and Kamen Rider V3 games on Playstation), but the game is based on an older Rider and was
released at the same time as the show was airing.
It's a mostly standard single-plane beat em up, in which you travel from left to right, punching creatures along the way, and fighting a boss at the end. Every three stages there's a fight with an area boss, which is pretty cool as the sprites for these fights are double size.
There's also occasional motorbike stages, which, since you walk so slowly in the regular stages are a breath of fresh air. These stages play a lot like the motorbike stages in Alex Kidd in Miracle World and Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle: you ride along at a decent speed, jumping over pits and obstacles.
The walking stages that make up the bulk of the game aren't so fun. As I already mentioned, they're very slow, and there are further problems to be found in the controls, which have two strange and very pronounced quirks. The first one you're likely to notice is the bizarre way jumping works in this game.
Pressing the jump button once will make you jump straight upwards. To actually jump forwards, you must jump upwards, then at the right time (just before the flip at the jump's summit), press forward and jump together. I don't understand why this was done at all, since it does seem to be a deliberate desicion on behalf of the designers.
Whether the second quirk is deliberate design or just bad programming is less clear, though. What it is, is that rather than changing direction instantly when you press left then right (or vice versa), you step backwards for a second, then turn round. This puts you at a disadvantage in boss fights, since you're unable to quickly turn to face your opponent, and, in fact, tapping the directions only makes the problem worse. This is pretty much unforgivable for players used to the quick reactions of later beat em ups (and even contempory ones, like Altered Beast).
A good thing about the game (though nowhere near good enough to redeem it) is the fact that it does look pretty nice. Even though the sprites are tiny, and all except for Kamen Rider Black himself and the big area bosses are a bit crap and undetailed, the graphics as a whole are very colourful, and the backgrounds, though simple, look nice enough too.

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