Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Aa Harimanada (Mega Drive)

You might remember all the way back in 2014, I reviewed the Game Ger version of this, or rather, the Game Gear game that's based on the same source material as this one. Because the two are very different: while the Game Gear game took a somewhat spartan , sports game-like approach, the Mega Drive version has a much flashier fighting game-inspired take on the concept of Sumo. There's even special moves and a health bar!

The most obvious difference though, is that while the Game Gear game's characters all used the same sprite with different colour palletes, this version has all the characters looking different. They're not totally unique, though: every character has a unique head, but it's put onto one of a few different body types, with a variety of skin tones. It's also nice that there are different body types, when you'd think most sumotori would have pretty much the same physique.

Well, they are all pretty mastodonic compared to regular people, but if we take the player character (single player mode has you playing through the story of the manga's protagonist Isao Harimanada) as being an "average" sized sumotori, with most opponents being the same size, then there's also some opponents who are noticably a lot smaller than him, as well as a few who are a lot bigger, standing like mountains of muscle. Body size doesn't seem to be any indicator of how difficult an opponent's going to be, though, which is mainly thanks to the ring out mechanic.

Though you can win by repeatedly slapping and headbutting your opponent into unconsciousness (and also picking them up onto your shoulders and putting them into a Torture Rack hold, in a feat of incredible strength!), most fights will be decided by ring out, sometimes only a couple of seconds after they start. The fighters lock upwhen thy get close enough to each other, and from there, there's a power struggle to get your opponent's back to the edge of the ring, or to throw him overhead to do some damage. Once you get to the edge, depending (I think) on how much health each sumotori has left, either one of them will be thrown out right away, or a new power struggle begins, this time based entirely on who can hit buttons the fastest. So an easy way to win fights is to walk straight into your opponent, keep pressing forward and B to get them over to the edge, then rub all three buttons with the knuckles of your fingers as fast as you can. Of course, I take no responsibility for any damage you might do to your controller or fingers in trying this technique.

I reservedly recommend Aa Harimanada. It's a fun game, and I'm sure it'd be a great laugh to play with friends in between bouts on "proper" fighting games, but even by the standards of a 1993 fighting game, there's not much to entertain a single player, due to there only being one playable character and all. Furthermore, I definitely don't recommend trying to buy a legitimate copy in this day and age, as the prices it fetches online are ludicrous.

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