Thursday, 9 March 2017

Asameshimae Nyanko (SNES)

Othello is a classic strategy board game that's been around since at least the late 19th century, and has been adapted into videogame form many times over the years, dating back all the way to the Odyssey2's Dynasty. Rock Paper Scissors is an even older game, though it's a lot less strategic, and really more of a way of randomly deciding things than an enjoyable pastime. Asameshimae Nyanko is a game from 1994 that bravely seeks to answer the question "what if we combined the strategy of Othello with the randomness of Rock Paper Scissors, and there were also lots of kittens?"

Yeah, so this is a game of othello in which the piece are not small black and white discs, but blue and pink kittens. For some reason, you also get to pick which breed of kitten is used before you start a game. There's also a few locations to play in, too, like a roof in the city, a grid of rocks in the wilderness and a luxurious carpet in a remote palace. The different locations do offer slightly differently shaped boards, but are otherwise just cosmetic changes like the kitten breeds. The big difference between this game and a normal game of Othello is that after each turn, the current player can choose one of their opponent's kittens to take, and this dispute is decided in a seperate little one-on-one battle.

As you might have guessed, these one-on-ones are where the Rock-Paper-Scissors element comes into play. You press A, Y or B on your controller, your opponent does the same, and a winner is decided. I've only played single player, so I can't tell you which button beats which, but I'm not sure it really matters that much. It's not just the one solitary kitten that's at stake, either: if the kitten changes hands and this causes two kittens of that colour to surround a line of the opponent's kittens, that line is taken, as if the changed kitten was placed as part of a normal move. (I know that sentence is confusing for people who don't know how Othello is played, but I'm assuming those people are in the minority.)

Asameshimae Nyanko is a very well-presented game. The kitten sprites look cute, and though there would be a risk of them looking lifeless when placed on the board in large numbers, the game cleverly animates each kitten individually, so they're all doing dfferent things at any one time, which really adds a lot to the character of the game. It looks really great in general, actually, with nice, soft colours and well-drawn sprites and backgrounds.

Unfortunately, there's really nothing more to this game than playing one-off games. There's no kind of story mode or arcade-style mode with opponents of gradually increasing difficulty, so playing single player is an experience you'll get bored of in less than half an hour. On the other hand, if you can somehow convince someone to play a partially-randomised videogame adaptation of Othello with you, then Asameshimae Nyanko is that game!

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