Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Gyakuten!! Puzzle Bancho (Arcade)

The title of this game actually tells you a lot about it. It's a puzzle game, and the characters are banchos (that is, a certain kind of tough teenage delinquent that had its heyday in the 70s and 80s, and have a bunch of attatched stereotypes). Also, I'm pretty sure that "gyakuten" means something along the lines of "comeback" or "reversal", and there's a pretty good mechanic relating to that in this game.

But before I get on to the mechanics, I want to talk about how great it looks. It's made by Fuuki, and like their most well-known games, Asura Blade and its sequel Asura Buster, it's full of large character sprites and very bold and vibrant colours. I don't know how they do it, but something about the colour in Fuuki's games really bursts forth from the screen, and Puzzle Bancho is no exception to that. The designs of the characters and the world they inhabit is well-done, too, being extremely exagerrated caricatures of bancho stereotypes. There's also a sukeban (female bancho) character, and I'm sure I've mentioned before how mysteriously absent they tend to be from videogames, so that's nice too.

As for the mechanics, it's a versus-style puzzle game of the sort that sprung up in droves in the wake of Puyo Puyo. Coloured blocks fall from above, and react when placed together in groups of three. The blocks come in large and small variants, and upon "reaction", the large blocks disappear, and the small blocks grow into large ones. Obviously, this opens up a new way to make chains (and as is usual for these games, chaining is the most important thing): if three small blocks react and grow into large ones, those large blocks will instantly react again and disappear.

By now, you might wonder where the "comeback" concept comes into things. Like most games of this type, there's garbage blocks that fall upon the opponents of skilled players. When a large block disappears while touching a garbage block, the garbage block becomes a small block of the same colour. With proper planning, a good (or very lucky) player can use the garbage blocks to form monstruous chains that wouldn't otherwise be possible.

Although it's a good game with no real downsides, I can't really recommend Gyakuten!! Puzzle Bancho. Unless you really love versus puzzlers and want to play every one, or if you really love the aesthetic, it's just not different enough or any better than the likes of Puyo Puyo or Magical Drop.

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