Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Ichigeku Sachuu!! Hoihoi-san (PS2)

In the year 20XX, the face of pest control is small robots with live weapons, just like in the 2000AD series Banzai Battalion, though unlike Banzai Battalion, this is a Japanese videogame from 2003, so the robot in question is a tiny maid. Anyway, I think the plot is that you're some guy who's bought one of these robots and set up a small business for himself hiring it out to kill the insects in his neighbours' houses, since Japan is a warm, humid country and therefore, full of huge insects with no respect for human privacy.

It's nota very good business model, though, since the fees he collects for this task barely cover the cost of ammunition for Hoihoi's guns. You will be able to afford the best melee weapon after only a few stages, and that coupled with a mastery of sneaking up on the bugs that like to run away, will save you a lot of bullets, and therefore money.

I haven't really explained the game at all yet, have I? It's a 3D third person shooter, that's very much from a bygone age. We've all complained about how a lot of modern 3D games feel very similar, due to them all using near-identical control schemes where the left analogue stick moves your character, and the right moves the camera around them. Hoihoi-san is from the days when a lot of developers hadn't really figured this out yet, so while the left analogue stick does move Hoihoi around, the right stick does nothing at all, the player's only control of the camera being the L1 button putting it directly behind Hoihoi. If you're wondering about aiming your guns, well that's all automatic: if you're near an enemy, a red crosshair will appear on it, and you can shoot them.

The incredibly dated controls aside, this is a pretty good game! It's nothing special, but it looks alright, it's cute, and smashing bugs is very satisfying. Another thing to note about the bugs is that having them be normal-sized and shrinking the player down to their level is far creepier than the typical videogame approach of having normal-sized protagonists and giant bugs. And though all the characters and the stages are cartoony, the bugs are fairly realistic-looking, making them even creepier. The stages are obviously all rooms in people's houses: living rooms, basements, kitchens, etc. You can tell that you're in a different person's house on different stages, though, as different people have different sets of belongings and tastes in decor, which is another nice little touch.

Though it isn't a bad game, I can't really recommend playing Ichigeku Sachii!! Hoihoi-san. Like I've said, it's incredibly dated, and it's also pretty frustrating at first, until you get used to all its little idiosyncracies, and there just isn't anything about it that's interesting or exciting enough to get past its faults.

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