GAME REVIEWS

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Jantei Monogatari 2 Shutsudou Hen


~ JANTEI 2 SHUTSUDOU HEN ~
Atlus
CD-ROM
1992

I knew that there would be girls, and I knew that there would be mahjong matches. But those are the only things I knew to expect when I started playing Jantei 2. Whether or not the game is any good was a matter very much in question. I'd already experienced both the first episode in the series and the third, and while I found the former to be a terribly dull detective story, I rather enjoyed the time I spent with the crazy, cartoony stars of the latter. It seemed reasonable enough to expect the second game to be a mere middle-of-the-road sort of product, so I wasn't anticipating my inevitable sessions with it. What I was anticipating, though, was having a good deal more adventuring to do than I'd had in its forebear and followup; after all, it's split up into two separately released chapters, with Shutsudou Hen constituting the opening half.

Indeed, there's an adventure to experience here, and the adventurer who experiences it is a well-meaning if awkward lad who somehow manages to transform himself into a robotic soldier when circumstances demand such drastic action. He regularly utilizes his unique ability to aid distressed acquaintances and teary-eyed civilians.


The do-gooder's adversaries are an alien head of stone and a flock of odd-looking, strangely attired females.


This story of Rock Head vs. Robot Boy plays out via animated sequences that are housed within horribly large, strictly utilitarian borders. There are options to choose from here and there, but selections are nothing but formalities, mere exercises in clicking, and the interface is unnecessarily clunky.


Thankfully, not a whole lot of time is wasted on menu-driven sequences, and once the show gets rolling, it's anything but uneventful. An evil cat-girl administering breast-exposing whip lashes to a bound-and-vulnerable heroine might actually fall into the "going too far" category, but I'm hardly opposed to lightsaber-wielding robo-warriors having it out.


Of course, whips and lightsabers and whatnot are tossed aside once the time comes for disputes to be settled for good. Mahjong tiles are the characters' weapons of choice for all-or-nothing showdowns.


And Jantei 2's mahjong matches play out well--which basically means that they aren't overly difficult and don't require a great deal of time. Points awarded for victories can be used to acquire hand-altering abilities and make the contests even easier and less time consuming.


Decent music lends to the dramatic effect of particular events, though the excitement generated by the soundtrack is frequently nullified by the goofy facial expressions and awkward gesticulating of the clumsy characters.


Still, the part of Jantei 2 presented here remained interesting enough for me to want to proceed to the next slice as soon as I was done with it. If anything, it ended far too quickly. Shutsudou Hen really does feel like half a game--but at least it's half of a pretty good one.

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