Saturday, 17 March 2018

Super Bikkuriman - Densetsu no Sekiban (Game Boy)

You might already be aware of Bikkuriman as a franchise, but if you're not, it's a line of snacks that were popular in Japan from the late 1970s onwards, that also had stickers in the packets. The characters from the stickers were popular enough to have been featured in various anime and videogame tie-ins over the years, the most well-known in the west probably being the PC Engine game Bikkuriman World, which was an altered port of the arcade game Wonderboy in Monster Land. As far as I can tell, though, this game is completely new.

Like most licensed games from the early 1990s, though it is a platform game, and coming from 1992, it's actually an early example of a problem I associate with the later years of the Game Boy's life: developers being way too ambitious with the size of their sprites. Like you can see in the screenshots, the sprite in this game are huge, which doesn't give them a lot of space to move around the screen, and limits the distance you can see. And that does cause a lot of problems with leaps of faith and so on. Luckily, though, it is ambitious in other ways, and they at least make it an interesting game, if not a good one.

Firstly, your character's lifebar is split in half, with the second half being a power meter that goes up as you attack enemies, and down as you take damage. However, the less life you have left, the higher the maximum amount of power you can store gets, like in Psychic Force 2012. Once the meter reaches a certain level for the first time, you can press start to take on a more powerful form, who looks cooler and can fly and shoot projectiles. In this form, once the power meter reaches a certain level, you can press start to use a super attack, summoning a phoenix or a dragon (depending on which character you're playing as, and they seem to alternate stage-by-stage) to smite your enemies. So brave players might want to try sacrificing their health so they can easily perform this attack twice in a row as soon as they reach the boss (though this is both brave and foolish, as the game's massive sprites make it pretty hard to dodge attacks a lot of the time).

It's nothing ground breaking, but it's more complexity than you might expect from a licensed Game Boy platformer in 1992. And there's more too! As well as the main game, the developers have also included a little beyblade-esque spinning tops minigame accessible from the main menu, presumably as a way to shoehorn in a multiplayer mode. Before you start, you choose whether to emphasise power or speed, and whoever runs out of speed frst loses. So go with speed every time and you'll win. I can't imagine this sold many more copies of the game, and I honestly wonder if two Game Boys and two copies of this were ever connected together, even once. But it was probably a request from the licensor or the publisher that they had to include some kind of multiplayer thing.

Super Bikkuriman - Densetsu no Sekiban isn't anything revolutionary, and I definitely don't recommend going out of your way to track down a copy. But if you ever happen upon a loose cartridge on sale for practically no money at all (like I did), it wouldn't hurt to pick it up.

No comments:

Post a Comment