Saturday, 22 February 2014

Dahna: Megami Tanjou (Mega Drive)

I think "Megami Tanjou" means "birth of the goddess", but I'm not toally sure on that. But anyway, this is a violent fantasy-themed platform game, in which you play a white-robed swordswoman, who we might guess from the title, might be named Dahna and could possibly either be a goddess or may become a goddess in the future. There's cutscenes explaininng the story, but of course, they're all in Japanese so I don' know what
anyone is saying in them. It doesn't matter!
The game starts with a village under attack by an evil wizard and his minions. They're chasing people with swords, burning down buildings and causing all kinds of ruckus, until our heroine rides in. On the back of an ogre. Yeah, the game starts with a cool bit of spectacle, as you control the ogre, smashing the puny humans with swipes of your giant claws, or just jumping on them. This is made even cooler by the game's liberal use of gore: though it's not in the same league as Splatterhouse 2 or anything, it still throws about a lot of red stuff for a platform game released in 1991.
After a couple of minutes, the evil wizard shows up to banish your ogre away, leaving only Dahna and her sword. In later parts of the game, you also get to ride a horse and a griffin! There might be more things to
ride later than that, I don't know. I don't know because the game is really, brutally hard. You only get a small life bar and no lives (I must shamefully admit that I had to make use of the 5 continues the game provides to play enough of it to write about), and not only are life-restoring items painfully rare, but you don't even heal between stages! The one small mercy the game provides is that at 100,000 and 200,000 points, your life bar not only fills, but extends too! If only it did this at 300,000 too I might have survived another stage or two. It's not only the health situation that will kill you, but there are also segments with collapsing platforms and bottomless pits, which wouldn't be so bad were it not for the fact that controlling Dahna's jumps feels so bizarre and unnatural. I can't really describe in words the bizarre way that precise jumps both look and feel in this game, but it makes it a lot harder to do them.
There are positives to the game, and they're mostly aesthetic. Although the graphics are fairly simple and the sprites small, everything is still pretty well drawn, and the characters do manage to convey a certain amount of personality with what they've got. It's also obvious that the developers of the game were fans of 80s live
action fantasy films, as the game has a strong aesthetic in general that radiates a certain atmosphere similar in feel to films like the Deathstalker series, and others of that slightly grimy, low budget ilk.
The atmosphere and personality the game has unfortunately aren't enough to get around the brutal, ooften unfar difficulty, though, and I can't really recommend playing this one. And I definitely don't recommend paying the high prices the game fetches online, either.


  1. You can photograph Japanese text with the Google Translate app on iOS/Android and it will translate whatever you highlight. Works really well for import games.

    1. oh! i'll remember that if i ever get a modern phone! :D