Saturday, 29 July 2017

Parasol Henbee (Game Boy)

So, this game is based on an anime I've never seen, and had never heard of before playing the game. And I wouldn't have even heard of the game itself had it not happened to be one of the 66 games built into some models of the excellent Game Boy Color clone, the KongFeng GB Boy Colour. So what kind of game is Parasol Henbee? It's a platform game with an incredibly sedate pace and feel, akin to going out for a leisurely stroll.

You play as the eponymous Henbee (or possibly Henbei, depending on the romanisation), and you literally just got from left to right on each stage, avoiding enemies and hazards until you reach the end. You do have an attack, but it's awkward to use, and it depletes your health almost as much as getting hit by an enemy does. You start out with pretty low health, though there is a reason for that: your walking speed and the height/length of your jumps has a correlation with the state of your health bar, and there's lots of little items floating around that increase your health a tiny amount. Of course, this means that in later stages, when the platforms start getting smaller, and the gaps between them bigger, if you take a few hits, finishing the stage becomes basically impossible. And there are points in those later stages that require military precision to avoid touching the enemies.

There's not much else to say about the game, mechanically speaking. There's no bosses, very little variety, and you can get through most of the game without feeling any sense of progress or achievement. There are some interesting things to say about it aesthetically and thematically, though! Firstly, Henbee looks like a Mr. Saturn from Earthbound, though this game and the series on which it's based is older than that game. Also, the first couple of stages, which are set in what's clearly supposed to be a friendly Japanese suburb look more like a feral city, left to rot by uncaring corrupt politicians, as the streets are lined with piles of uncollected rubbish and populated by packs of wild dogs and cats. Maybe I'm wrong, and the creator of Doraemon did make a series that was a biting social commentary that somehow got a licensed Gamy Boy game made out of it, but I'd be very surprised if that were the case.

I don't recommend Parasol Henbee. It's not interesting enough to bother hunting down, and even if you do have a GB Boy Colour and no actual cartridges to put in it, there's plenty of much, much better games on the built in list you can enjoy while waiting for your ebay-purchased carts to arrive.

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