Sunday, March 22, 2009


Namco / NEC

Upon giving Bravoman a few quick tries when I first acquired it, I found it to be a fairly routine and innocuous beat 'em up with one interesting element in its hero's ability to stretch his limbs to ridiculously extreme lengths. I decided that it really didn't deserve its bad reputation, as it seemed to make for a goofy-but-enjoyable romp. Having actually experienced the adventure in full since I formulated those early opinions, I now know the truth of the matter, and I wonder what the hell I was thinking in the first place. This game is bloody awful.

Most of the enjoyment to be had here comes from beating up on Bravo's allies and reading the resulting talk-bubble bits.

Additional chuckles are to be had when the bosses make "scary" threats.

The one technical merit the game has going for it is parallax scrolling. Sadly, the same few backgrounds are employed ad nauseam as you "stretch fight" your way through an absurdly high number of levels. The enemy sprites are dirty, ugly, and oddly diminutive. Bravoman comes off as a stinker of a "superhero" as he bullies around tiny tanks, dwarfish ninjas, and other such munchkins who stand barely one-half his height.

Not content with mere multilayer backgrounds as their trump card, the Bravoman design team tried to go the extra mile by tossing sidescrolling shooter levels into the mix. Unfortunately, Bravo's hitbox is huge, the controls feel clunky, and all of the strips look the same.

In fact, repetition is what ultimately deals the deathblow to Bravoman. It may seem like an acceptable game early on because of its amusing cheesiness and parallax-graced backdrops, but eventually the experience becomes sickening, as one continually comes across redundant visual elements and perennially endures the hero's infamous, irrepressible shouts of "Bravo!" And as all of the recycling occurs, the bosses become more aggressive and the stages themselves become more mazelike and restrictive, making the inadequacy of the controls not only evident but also unforgivable.

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