Saturday, 30 August 2014

Mamono Hunter Yohko: Dai-7 no Keishou (Mega Drive)

You're probably already aware that this game is based on the anime known in english as Devi Hunter Yohko, but I can't say how faithful an adaptation it is, since I've never seen the show. Many years ago I had a poster of it that came with an issue of Animerica, though.

Anyway, the game is, as you'd expect from a 16-bit anime licence, is a platform game. At first glance, it seems pretty generic, but it does have some slightly more subtle qualities in its favour. The biggest is that the stages aren't laid out like a simple left-to-right path with a few enemy shelves, but right from the first stage will have the player being led in every direction (although the downside to this is that the game does also feature a few leaps of faith). Yohko's weapon is pretty interesting too. Though her normal attacks are just sword swings, holding the button down summons an energy ring, which be thrown by releasing the button, after which it comes back, and can be kept around by continuing to hold the attack button.

There is a big problem with the game though: that it's just far too hard to actually enjoy. The first stage goes pretty well, though there is a moment towards the end during which the player has to climb a huge wiggly beanstalk, while being pushed around by strong winds that randomly change direction, but the second stage is where the trouble really starts. The second stage is set in and around a volcano, and for some reason, whether it was a deliberate design decision or just an accident of programming, fire does insane damage to Yohko. Rather than just damaging her once, it constantly causes damage for as long as Yohko is in contact with it. This makes the stage itself pretty hard, but the boss is an insane chore, since not only does he breath fire across the ground, but also leaps around willy-nilly, and touching him drains half of Yohko's health. I did manage to struggle through and eventually get all the way to the start of stage 4, but no further.

It's really a shame that the game is so insanely hard, as mechanically, it's not too bad. Yohko is fun to control, killing enemies and cancelling their shots with the sword and ring is nice and satisfying, and there is some cool ideas in the stage designs, too. But the difficulty kills it, the game doesn't feel challenging as much as it just feels unfair. Don't bother playing it.

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