Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Diet Family (Arcade)

When I first saw this title, and the fact that it was made by the Korean company Semicom, I was instantly interested. This was mainly because, as I've covered before, Korean arcade games aren't always completely original, and I thought that it might at least be a fun knock-off of the excellent Data East game Diet Go Go (which I covered on this blog many years ago). It's actually a totally original (as far as I can tell) Galaga-style shooting game, with a bit of an unhealthy approach to weight loss as its main theme.

So, you play as one of five characters (and if they're a family, as the title suggests, then it looks like it's two daughters, mum, dad and their weird blue cat thing), and set out to destroy/avoid food, and eat only the tasty diet pills. Yeah, that's a bit weird and unpleasant, isn't it? I mean at least Diet Go Go had the protagonists dressed like they were going to do execise too, and the food that evil scientist was giving out was all massive cakes and legs of meat.Most of the food in Diet Family is pretty healthy stuff like fruits, vegetables and sushi!

But all that aside, the game is at least full of interesting ideas mechanically. For example, scoring and obtaining power-ups relies heavily on the game's comboing system. Unusually, that system focuses entirely on accuracy, rather than the more typical speed, as your combo counter goes up for every one of your bullets that hits an enemy in a row, and resets if one of your bullets flies offscreen. As the combo gets longer, more and more items and power-ups will make their way down the screen to you. It works fairly well, though the requirements to get a power-up for your weapon are incredibly steep, needing twenty sucessful shots in a row. On the other hand, as you get further into the game, there are more enemies coming at you in thicker patterns, so it does get easier to rack up big combos as you go along.

The way your lives work is different, too. You have three lives and an energy meter. If you take a hit, the energy meter decreases, depending on the strength of the enemy that hit you (you're told the strengths of the different enemies at the start of each stage). It goes up a tiny amount for each diet pills you collect. If it decreases past the bottom of the bar, you'll lose a life, your sprite will get fatter (though this is only cosmetic, you aren't slowed down or anything), and the energy meter will be back near the top again. If you collect enough pills to make the meter go over the top, and you've lost at least one life, you'll get another life back, though the meter will be back at the bottom. So it's easier to claw lives back than in most shooting games, though you are limited to a maximum of three (plus a full energy meter).

Saying whether or not I actually recommend Diet Family is a difficult one: though I didn't personally find it to be a very enjoyable game to play, I can also see that it's definitely competently made and designed, and someone with more patience for its accuracy-based mechanics could very well get a lot of fun out of it. What a terrible, fence-sitting conclusion!

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