System: Nintendo Famicom
Completed: Studio School Dropout
While looking up different games for the Famicom, this curious title kept popping up. It was reminiscent of an older arcade title (a few minutes before drafting this post, I found out it was based on a Japanese arcade game called Momoko 120%) in that it pretty much repeats the same stage with little variation. I found it for cheap, so I decided to pick up a copy.
The game is based off a manga/anime series named (you guessed it) Urusei Yatsura. This was created by the same woman who made Ranma ½ and InuYasha. I never watched Ranma ½ and I started to watch InuYasha but quickly grew bored with the filler episodes. There is an English dub of Urusei Yatsura called Lum, and you might be able to watch it online. I “watched” the first episode, so I have a pretty tenuous grasp on the plot:
Earth is invaded by aliens. Or demons. Not sure, especially because they used the word Oni. Some dude has to catch one of the alie-mons or face annihilation because plot. Pretty sure her name is Lum. I use Lumberries in Pokémon because they heal all status ailments, making them versatile. Pokémon Red didn’t use berries and held items, but it was still fun. I decided to play some Pokémon. By the time I got to Pewter City, the video was over.
I, uh, don’t watch a lot of anime…
Instead, here’s a link to the commercial for the game.
Now I feel engaged! Was that an unintentional pun? I feel dirty…
The game features Lum as the protagonist. She’s a pint-sized pyro who goes to infant school (I thought she was a teenager in the show??). The voices get the better of her and she sets fire to the school. No sign of the other children, so that’s tragic. As if that weren’t enough, she shoots cartoon lightning bolts from her fingers. Fun at parties, not so helpful when escaping immolating death. Octoroks and creepy smiley faced mosquitos will attack and swiftly die from electrical justice. Lum is victim of one hit deaths, which really saps the fun out of the game during the later levels since enemies spawn right above the player when the game feels like taking your self-esteem done a few notches.
The goal is to get to the top of the school through escalators and trampolines. There are some gaps that are difficult or impossible to jump, meaning Lum must backtrack if she went the wrong way, wasting precious time in escaping. Once on the roof, you come across a UFO which takes Lum away. She ages a bit and the game progresses to Elementary School. The cycle continues to Junior High School, High School, and then Studio (with green hair!). The only differences in the stages are the frequency of enemies, the number of floors to the roof, and the speed of the fire.
The music is the theme song from the anime. Over and over again.
There’s a two player mode where two people take turns like Super Mario Bros. I don’t hate anyone enough.
I never got past the Studio stage. From my understanding, this is the penultimate stage. There were way too many cheap deaths that were not telegraphed. I’m cool with games that do not telegraph every little thing, but that’s only when the controls are tight. This game lacks that. Lum handles like a shopping cart with no wheels. Enemies insisted on spawning on top of Lum, and when the platform is only as wide as the character sprite and the next platform is still moving, I consider that a cheap death.
I never got that far in the game again. I don’t think this is a fair game. It had potential to be one of those weird Japanese games, but no. It turned into a big old nope cake.
Sorry, but what kind of ending do you expect for 1986?
It is hard to think of an audience that would truly enjoy this game. I was hoping for some sort of hidden gem, especially with how often it appeared in my searches. They can’t all be winners…
Only those that enjoy the arcade experience from games like Mappy and Mappyland would really find any appreciation in this game. I wouldn’t bother trying to get a copy of this, and it being import only hurts its case.
My arbitrary score based on nothing is 2 out of 9.