Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ranma 1/2: Toraware no Hanayome

~ RANMA 1/2 2 ~
NCS/Masaya / Tenky

I've watched some Ranma here and there, but I'm by no means a big fan of it. Still, I absolutely love this game, as it's far more entertaining than anything I've ever seen in the anime. If you like the show at all, then you must get this CD; and if you're thinking about trying some digital comics, this is a great one to start with.

It kicks off with one of my favorite Duo openings, a cool montage featuring amusing skits and well-rendered character images...

...and then the comic proper begins. It's very accessible and extremely easy to play regardless of whether or not you know any Japanese, and if you're at all familiar with the show, you'll be able to get plenty out of the story. The graphics are great, and there are lots of funny moments.

In fact, the comedy here is often more effective in evoking laughter than the hijinks that typically take place in the anime. Take an in-game incident involving Ranma's rival Ryouga, for instance. The poor lad somehow always ends up getting lost in the show, which is funny for about... an episode or so. Of course, Tenky had to include some sort of scene involving that character trait in the game, as there isn't much to The Eternal Lost Boy otherwise.

But instead of taking the anime's usual route of presenting Ryouga as being lost from the outset, they came up with a fresh, funny idea for having him lose his way. During a quiz-based contest to determine who wins vacation tickets, Ryouga thinks of the correct response to the deciding question and needs only take a few steps forward to submit his answer and be on his way to paradise. Sadly, the unfortunate fellow somehow manages to get lost as he's taking those few steps. He ends up running off into the distance, still mad with excitement and under the delusion that he's about to be crowned victor, as everyone else stands around wondering what the fuck just happened.

The game's plot features many such moments that are both funny and inventive. But in a wise move, the writers opted not to ride the jokes all adventure long. Matters become strange and dark late in the drama--even Shadowgate-esque for a stretch!

This is a digital comic of the highest quality, one of the best of the best, but I do have a couple of very minor complaints to make about it. There's an unnecessary maze sequence near the end, and there are menu-driven fight scenes that are largely entertaining but can get tedious at times.

So the game isn't perfect... but, man, is it close.

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