Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Bikkuriman World

Hudson Soft

Well, thank goodness things got a hell of a lot better with Dragon's Curse.

That's what I was thinking a few levels into Bikkuriman World, an aged and seemingly decrepit chip title that was showing its revolting wrinkles at every "cartoonish" turn and having me play as a dopey-looking, poorly dressed Chubby Cherub wannabe.

I expected the forerunner of Dragon's Curse and Dynastic Hero to let me do some exploring, but aside from the damnable labyrinth that is the final board, Bikkuriman's rounds are pretty straightforward. Maybe we should be thankful for that, as the game imposes time limits and urges us to race from checkpoint to checkpoint (an unnecessary leftover arcade element). Yes, there are secrets to uncover, but they mostly involve jumping and stumbling about to happen upon hidden coins and shop entrances.

Being that it fails to provide players with the opportunity to partake in true adventuring, Bikkuriman has to rely heavily on "hack-and-slash" gameplay, an element that has never been the series's forte, even when it hit its stride with DC. There's no such thing as "attack range" in these games, and the goofy star of this particular episode begins his quest as a slow, feeble pushover. Early on, you'll definitely wonder how you'll ever avoid suffering severe thrashings at the hands of certain stern bosses when you're charged with guiding such an inept "warrior."

The funny thing is, despite all my early head shaking and skepticism, I eventually started to enjoy the game. Finding hidden loot stashes becomes a lot of fun once you realize just how important it is that you earn cash quickly. And even after you've obtained that dough, you can't just barge into a shop and empty out your pockets without doing a bit of thinking; you've gotta spend your money wisely in order to keep the poor Cherub-like fellow healthy and strong.

Once you figure out how to make good cash (and allocate it well), you can have a lot more fun with the action itself. Acquire some quality equipment and watch as the formerly meek lad evolves into a speedy, fearless powerhouse! Well, I'm exaggerating there, but he does develop into a more competent fighter as you yourself get better at managing your money and gear. He even starts to resemble an honest-to-goodness video-game hero after a while!

Bosses that seemed horribly unfair the first few times you faced them are suddenly no match for your skill and the naked-no-more warrior's might!

And so Bikkuriman World ends up being not only playable but also rewarding and fun. Would you believe me if I were to tell you I prefer it to Dynastic Hero? Well, I sure do.

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