Saturday, June 6, 2009

Legend of Hero Tonma


This game joined my collection as something of an afterthought. I was expecting it to be goofy and cartoony--not the sort of platformer that's usually up my alley.

Well, it is pretty light in theme, and it is unabashedly goofy at times (like when Tommy, the main character, flails his arms as he fires), but it earned my respect immediately with its fast, initially difficult gameplay. Most of Tommy's foes are extremely quick and constantly on the move, and you'll have to deal with many more projectiles than you're probably used to seeing in a game of this sort.

Be prepared to experience some frustration at first, as Tommy is a one-hit wonder, and upon taking that hit, he'll be flung back to a checkpoint. But this is one of those games that you develop a feel for, and the feel might come quickly. The first time I played it, I struggled mightily in parts, used many continues (which come in limitless supply), and ran into a wall at the fifth-stage boss.

The next time I played it, I roared right through the whole thing and had a pretty darn good time. Tommy is a fun character to control, as he can pull off some stunningly high leaps and build up his firepower to the point where he's blasting away at his adversaries with plenty of bouncing comets and homing fireballs.

Ironically, once you've got "the feel," the adventure suddenly reveals itself to be an extremely short experience (six relatively quick stages followed by the final boss battle). The fast-paced action might lure you back for more, but the superficials probably won't--not that they're poor or anything. The music doesn't play much of a role one way or the other, although I do really like the fifth-stage tune. The graphics are hardly noteworthy in a technical sense, but the color choices are effective, and the bosses are well designed.

Tonma is a fun little game, but there's a possibility that it'll drive casual/low-skill gamers away with its difficulty while proving too brief a journey for good players. In any event, unless you're intent on collecting US releases, you might want to nab the JPN version, as it's cheaper and features the same intermediary text messages, which are delivered in English (poor English, but English nonetheless).

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