Sunday, 27 May 2018

Crayon Shin-chan Puzzle Daimaou no Nazo (3DO)

I'm not super familiar with Crayon Shin-chan, but I do know it's one of those absurdly long-running family anime that's been going since at least the early 1990s. I did see one episode once, back in the early 2000s when Fox Kids was still around, and I was really caught off guard and surprised to see that a kids channel was airing a show where a little boy gets a package from the postwoman and remarks "Hey, I've got a little package for you too, baby!" Anyway, as long-running as it is, it's had many videogame tie-ins, and this is one of them, on that doomed console, the 3DO.

It's a puzzle game of the sort that could really be skinned to match pretty much any property at all, though since it's a 3DO game, they have gone all-out with the theming, and there's lots of little animations and a ton of voice acting. Of course, it's a versus-style puzzle game, and it takes the Tetris Battle Gaiden approach of having special blocks that have to be cleared to activate special abilities, though unlike TBG, which has you saving those blocks up to use a more powerful power at your leisure, in this game, the power is used as soon as the special block is cleared. An extra little bit of personality I liked about this game is that every character has their own set of normal blocks, which I presume are linked to their interests. Like Shin-chan has little scribbly faces, his dad has socks and beer, and so on. It's a nice touch, and a more interesting way of saying "look at all the space a CD gives us compared to cartridges" than FMVs, too.

Anyway, different normal blocks fall from the 'bove, and disappear either when four of the same are placed in a straight line, or in a two-by-two square. If you get rid of them via the square method, one of the blocks in the next piece will be replaced with a special question mark block, which can take the place of any colour/shape in a disappearing formation. The kind of blocks with which you make the special blocks disappear decides which power gets activated. For example, one colour will make a randomly-selected bunch of the pieces in your pit fly away, another will erase the bottom three rows of your pit, and another will dump two rows of garbage blocks into your opponent's pit. As is tradition, the first person to have blocks go over the top of their pit loses.

Unfortunately, I have to say the same thing I say in almost every post I write about versus puzzle games: it's alright, but Puyo Puyo, Magical Drop, and a few other games have perfected aspects of the genre to such an extent that any other games have to have something really special to be worth anyone's time. And unless you really love Shin-chan and can understand spoken Japanese, Puzzle Daimaou no Nazo doesn't really have anything going for it. It's not a problem that troubles other genres, but I feel like versus puzzlers, especially the ones that aren't in the upper echelons, are so similar that it makes it possible for a few games to rise to cyclopean heights and eclipse all would-be competitors. I mean there are a few that aren't as good as those mentioned, but are still worth playing, like Landmaker, for example, but again, Landmaker is a very unique game that stands out.

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