Thursday, 7 July 2016

Melpool Land (PC98)

Melpool Land (sometimes romanised as "Merupu Rurando") is a bit of a slight oddity, being a kind of top-down fighting game. Almost a mixture of sumo and boxing, with some extra videogamey bits thrown in, even. You pick your character from a selection of four (one of them is the furry swordsman from "Gensei", so I assume the rest of them are characters from other Compile games with whom I'm not familiar) and you fight the others in sequence, plus a weird little plant-man that you fight twice: once on his own stage and again on the stage of the character you picked.

The fights are a little unusual. They take place in squarish arenas, filled with pitfalls, landmines, walls and pinball bumpers. Each character has two floating objects (for example, magic pillars, small robots, floating tomatoes, etc.), tht are used kind of like a boxer's fist. Tapping the space bar uses them to punch, holding uses them to block. You win by either wearing down your opponent's health or knocking them off the stage. Your "fists" also have their own health, which is diminished by blocking. If both your fists are destroyed, your only offence is to walk into your opponent and try to push them off the stage, which is pretty difficult, so try not to let it come to that.

Melpool Land has the same flaws as another Compile PC98 game I've featured here in the past, Runner's High: It's beautifully presented, but there's just not enough of it. Single player mode will take only about 15-20 minutes to play through with every character, and there's no higher difficulty levels or anything like that. There is also a 2 player versus mode, which I haven't been able to play, but the fact that the characters aren't very well balanced (the swordsman is a lot better than all the others, the robot a lot worse than all the others) mean that it's not likely to come out as a lost competitive classic.

It does look very nice, though, being yet another display of the kind of lovingly-crafted pixel art Compile were putting out on PC98 and Windows in the 90s. But unfortunately, that's not enough to save it.

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