Friday, 24 July 2015

Kenyuu Densetsu Yaiba (SNES)

While the Mega Drive catered to arcade nerds with its many ports and original shooting games, the SNES/Super Famicom sought to draw in the anime nerds, with masses of licenced games and RPGs (I have a theory that the decline in RPG popularity is linked with the rise of very cheaply available anime, especially in the west. Back in the 90s, it was a lot more expensive, space-consuming and generally difficult to watch an entire anime series, but RPGs offered a full-length animesque storyline contained in a single cartridge or later on, a few CDs.).

Yaiba is both an anime licenced game and an RPG. I don't know anything about the source material, but it looks to be a pretty generic early 90s shonen series, though the creator went on to create the absurdly long-running Detective Conan juggernaut. As for the game itself, it's an action RPG, with the emphasis placed heavily on the action. Interacting with other characters is mostly confined to linear dialogues before and after bossfights, as well as token conversations related to mechanical things like saving and buying items.

The vast majority of the player's time is spent roaming topdown stages killing constantly spawning enemies, until they find the spot where the next story event or bossfight is triggered. It's better than I'm making it sound, but it's also very simple. In fact, the simplicity is actually part of the game's appeal. There's some nice streamlining in the mechanics that I really like. For example, rather than receiving experience points in set amounts upon defeating enemies, whenever the player hits an enemy, they receive experience equal to the amount of damage they inflicted. Level ups are simple, too: every level up you recieve adds 10 to your maximum HP, 1 to the amount of damage you inflict with a normal attack and reduces the amount of damage you take from enemy attacks by one.

The fact that the game is so simple means that Japanese literacy is not at all required to enjoy it, I managed to get a fair few stages in so far with no troubles, at the most you'll probably just need to look up the controls and the basics of how the game works: saving, travelling between stages, that kind of thing.

Kenyuu Densetsu Yaiba isn't anything particularly special, but it's a fun game, it feels rewarding to play, and it doesn't require knowledge of Japanese language. I don't think you'd regret giving it a try.

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