Thursday, March 21, 2013

Seiya Monogatari (Anearth Fantasy Stories) Taikenban

Hudson Soft / Media Works
Super CD-ROM

Seiya Monogatari ranks among the finest RPGs ever produced for the PC Engine, but this promotional disc provides scant indication of the greatness of the complete game. There's little to do in the included demo mode: you can gallivant about a village for a while prior to taking a trip into a forest to intermingle with the "development staff" and get a quick look at how combat plays out.

Fans of the full game in search of neat Anearth-related bonus material will find little of the sort here. You may access character profiles, take a look at fan art consisting of rough sketches and splotched colors, and listen to a handful of tunes as small sprites stumble about a stage.

There isn't much substance to the Anearth-associated fodder, but many a PCE player has sought to obtain the disc, as it contains an incredibly interesting (if ill-concealed) Easter egg in the form of a vertical shooter called Cychorider.

Cycho is a speedy stunner. At once it litters its playfield with small sprites that dart all about; your job, of course, is to blast up as many of your extremely erratic adversaries and as much random debris as you possibly can within a two-minute stretch. Annihilate conveyance carts to free toted phantoms that can be chain-nabbed for significant sums of bonus points. Alternate between a spreadshot and a laser to obliterate the enemy's mini-machine forces and a bullet-spewing boss-beast.

I wouldn't want to overstate Cychorider's excellence or imply that it has the fundamental makings of an incredible full-length shooter. There's nothing particularly taxing about its challenges or clever about its design. Had its essence and mechanics been placed in a grander, more ambitious context, interesting obstacles and superior background art would have been necessary inclusions, and goodness only knows if the hypothetical design team would've come through with the goods. But the game is fast and fun and perfectly suited for the novelty-esque role it's asked to play here, and it stands as sufficient reason to acquire the hard-to-find (and somewhat pricey) promotional disc.

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