Monday, 17 March 2008

A Japanese Oddity

I'm taking a little break from shmups since after a while it gets somewhat repetitive. Don't worry, though, I'll come back to that in a second, but for now I'm here to talk about a little hidden gem that few Saturn fans have played, not only because it is a rather obscure title, but also because it's one of the rarest, if not THE rarest, Saturn game. Forget Radiant Silvergun, that's cheap compared to this one. In fact, lucky for us, there's one on ebay right now (the auction ends in 16 hours, so it will probably be over by the time you read this), with a starting bid of $399,95!

So, is this game made of WIN and GOD to deserve such an high price? Well, as usual, the only thing the price tells you is the rarity of the game, not it's quality, and this game is no different. Don't get me wrong, it's a pretty good game, but definitely not worth selling a kidney for. Anyway, let's start to talk about the game itself. This is an action game that plays somewhat like Castlevania or Sega's own Shinobi, in the way that you go from point A to point B killing everything in your way and occasionally have to jump through a lot of platforms, but unlike in other games, here point A is the beginning and point B is the end of the game. This is a continuous adventure with not stages and no pauses for loading times. Just beat a boss? Then move on, because the next level is already in front of you.

Talking about bosses, this game is full of them. There's not only the usual end-stage bosses, but also a shit-load of "mini-bosses" that appear throughout the whole game, each of them more weird and freaky than the previous. There's giant skeletons, demonic spiders, angry trees, giant "ogres" (or whatever the big red guy in the boat was), giant toads , some kind of hindu priest, a guy that cuts off the head of a kid and then a giant snake comes off from his beheaded body,....well... I think that's enough for now...


Those guys must've been high when they came up with ideas for the bosses... About the gameplay, you can attack, jump, defend, and there's also a special attack that let's you turn a lesser enemy into your personal bodyguard (the guy is mostly useless, but it's always nice to have company). Your main attack consists in some kind of lightning bolt that you can also charge to deal more damage, but you can't just go out shooting everything. Before your character is some kind of symbol that, when an enemy approaches, acts as some kind of lock-on. This obviously fails at times, when you want to shoot some guy and it locks onto another, but most of the time it gets the job done. Another problem with the attacks is that you have to be constantly hammering the B button, since the bosses in particular have a really long life bar. I hear that this can be solved with a turbo pad, but I haven't tried it myself. I just know that some times I feared for the safety of my beloved pad...

Now, about the graphics, this is where this game really shines. At first it seems like any other 2D scrolling game, with really nice backgrounds nonetheless, but then, wait...what was that? Did the screen just moved?? Oh yeah! 3D backgrounds, baby! That's right, the "2.5D" graphics as they're known nowadays were already kicking ass in the Saturn a long time ago! Unfortunately the selection of videos on youtube is rather limited, because you really have to see this game in motion to admire it in all it's glory, but have a taste here:



Overall this was a game I liked. A lot, in fact. But is it worth it's hefty price tag? Definitely no (unless you're a millionaire, of course). But I really recommend everyone to try and find a way to play a backup, whether through an emulator, a modded Saturn or using the swap-trick, because in my opinion this game truly deserves to be played by every Saturn fan out there.

7 comments:

elend said...

I just recently bought this game for 180 EUR. It's not THAT expensive anymore and certainly not 399,95 USD. Hehe.

Anyways, I really did love it. Why? Because it's so perfectly polished from start to finish. The Music was great, the graphics simply incredible with the smooth 3D backdrops and camera movement; and the gameplay featured one unique idea after the other. Also they really thought about how they can implement the 3D Backgrounds in a not sucking way. Plust it featured some huge bosses. My favourites were the spider and the frog. Heh.

The only "flaw" would be the weird lightning bolt / lock-on thingy, which you really have to get used to at first. Sometimes you want to shoot someone behind you, but it's still locked onto some other guy and when you turn around it stays there. That's really weird and I would have preferred a melee attack. But they did that on purpose, so it's not like a bug or a true "flaw" of the game's gameplay engine. Far from it! They also added a neat dash move and a shield, which makes you immune for a mere second. You can also use it in mid-air, thus being able to levitate in mid-air for a second. Combined with the dash move you have quite a unique gameplay experience, imho!

It may not be worth the price, but actually no single game is. It's a very nice game, especially as a Sega Saturn exclusive!

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Dudeman said...

Great article! its quite amusing that you forgot to mention the title of the game though, lol. For anyone who isn't familiar w/ this gem yet, its called: psychic assassin tomaru.

NebachadnezzaR said...

You're right, how the hell did I forget about that?... :/

By the way, the original name is Shinrei Jusatsushi Taromaru and it is also known as Psychic Killer (instead of assassin) Taromaru.

Greg said...

Man, it's the top of Mt. Everest for the Saturn colletor. Did you actually buy this game?

NebachadnezzaR said...

Unfortunately no, my budget is too tight at the moment to allow such a purchase.

fatherkrishna said...

When I win the lottery I will buy this game... :)