Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Heisei Inu Monogatari Bow - Pop'n Smash (SNES)

You probably wouldn't pick it up from the title (it might not even be
immediately clear from the screenshots), but Heisei Inu Monogatari Bow -
Pop'n Smash is a tennis game, based on a comic of which I hadn't
previously heard. Well, it's kind of a mixture of tennis with various
other things, like there's elements of Arkanoid, a tiny pinch of pinball
and even a minor bit of RPG levelling up. Also, you (in single player,
at least) play as a dog, with a choice of rackets including an actual
tennis racket, a baseball bat, a mallet and a tree branch.

There's a lot to explain with this game, so I'll start with the most basic
difference it has compared to real tennis: the scoring. The scoring in
tennis has always, in my mind, been a problem in tennis videogames,
because the way it works means that a single game can potentially go on
for hours and hours before a victor is declared. HIMB-PnS simplifies it
by having the winner be the first player to score three points. There
are other, more drastic changes, too: there's a bunch of different
courts (I've played about twelve or thirteen matches into single player
mode, and every one had a different court), and they're all different
sizes and shapes, and they all also have different obstacles and
power-ups. The controls are pretty interesting too: you have seperate
buttons for hitting the ball to the left or right, another button to
slide along the ground and hit the ball in desperate circumstances, and
another to use your power shot (which is different for every character,
and is charged by holding down one of your regular hitting buttons).

Single player mode works like this: You face each opponent four times, each
time in a different court. After you've won all four matches, you play a
bonus game. The bonus games all use the same controls as the matches,
but they all also have you doing different things, whether it's catching
butterflies with nets or hitting baseballs or knocking baked goods into
air hockey goals. For every twenty points scored in these bonus games,
your power shot gets levelled up and improves a little bit.

Heisei Inu Monogatari Bow - Pop'n Smash is an okay game. It's not horribly
flawed in anyway, and it's an unusual spin on tennis, even among the
subgenre of deliberately unrealistic/videogamey sports games. It's
easily also available really cheap, if you want to take a risk on a real

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