By GunstarRed 8 Comments
I was going to hold off writing anything until the notifications were working properly again, but that's unlikely to happen any time soon. So I guess here is a thing that is probably going to be the first of a few. I think I might just do a few shorter blogs focussing on a single game in the series... That being the Simple 2000 series of Japanese budget games on the PS2.
It's surprising how many of them that ended up getting released in only Europe outside of Japan thanks to a handful of publishers, often with incredibly misleading covers or title changes. Unfortunately, the weirdest of these games were never brought over, but some of the stuff I have been messing around with is preeetty weird.
I've also added some thoughts on Freak Out as it has some similar... erm... themes. (I didn't really know where else to put it and it doesn't deserve a blog of its own.)
Demolition Girl. / Simple Series Vol.50: The Daibijin.
I think you know what you're getting into when the first option you are presented with in a menu is "Game is started." Me being me though, I'm fully aware of the game I'm playing, I knowingly went to Amazon, typed the title into the search and hit purchase. Don't think I threw myself blindly into this quality piece of software, I have done my research and came to the conclusion that "This is dumb... I should probably buy it."
I think the first time I was made aware of this game was when I was looking into buying the Earth Defense Force game that came out for the PS2, just after 2017 had come out. Demolition Girl, known as The Daibijin in Japan is one of D3's Simple 2000 series. A collection of odd, D-Tier games that verge on being broken with just enough weirdness to make them charming.
Thanks to the publisher 505 Games, gems like this managed to be released in Europe outside of Japan. It's a name that pops up a lot when I'm browsing for my next questionable purchase (That and Sega, but that's another story for another time.) This game never got a release in the US which is probably for the best. It also has a 3+ rating, this and a couple of other games I have been playing recently make me realise that our ratings system used to be really lenient.
So, the game begins, and we get a lot of still shots with minimal text introducing us to a girl named Riho Futaba doing a photoshoot on a beach. There's no hint of a photographer being there so I'm just going to assume Riho is a crazy person and is really into taking half naked selfies of herself. We get a couple of shots showing images of small crabs hanging off of her nose and her relaxing under a tree when suddenly she sees a tiny little monster with a blue glowing brain, purple tentacles and red eyes. Riho's first assumption is that this is a jellyfish, so obviously her first thought is to touch it. Unsurprisingly the jellyfish that is most definitely not a jellyfish, (BECAUSE IT IS AN ALIEN!) infects her with something and she grows really, really big...
A GIANT CREATURE APPEARS!
Now the "game is started" we get a briefing where we are told an unknown creature is rampaging through the buildings on the island and we are not quite sure what it is. A single glance at Riho would be enough to know that the threat is a giant lady in a bikini, but the National Guard need to know for sure using science... and helicopters.
We are given some helicopter options like a choice of two camo colours, a main arm weapon that's given to you for the mission and a changeable sub weapon. There's two options here: Machine Gun and Laser Gun. I think it's pretty obvious what I was going to go with though. There's also three slots for a special weapon. The game hasn't told me what any of these things are, but I can choose from cake, speaker, pepper and a couple of other options so I take a selection of them not really knowing what they are and start the mission.
Tam News gives me a report telling me the people of Minakojima island are freaking out... Hmm Kojima... is this game tied into the Metal Gear universe somehow? She is pretty big, maybe this is the Biggest Boss, is Riho Kiefer Sutherland in disguise? Oh my god! A little research on the internet tells me that there is a real place named Miyakojima, to be honest I wouldn't be surprised if Kojima had somehow gone back in time to name an island just to fit it into the lore of Metal Gear somehow.
Apparently scientists have concluded that the monster looks like a human female, mostly because she looks like a human female. The National Guard have come up with a plan to find out 100% for sure though. This doesn't involve getting a megaphone and just asking her who she is, this involves attaching a Trace Beam Gun to a helicopter and scanning her various body parts... It's the only way to make sure.
My mission is to fly a helicopter around the monster and hold down the scan button on her breasts, hips, buttocks and face. I only have about three minutes to collect all of that important information. Once I have collected the right amount of data we will know for certain if the giant human looking lady is indeed a giant human lady, and maybe buy her some new underwear or something.
The first thing I notice is that the helicopter controls like shit. Triangle and X adjust the height and circle and square move me left and right. R1 fires my main weapon (scanner) R2 fires my laser gun which needs to cool down after continuous use, and L2 fires out my special.
The first mission is very simple. You just fly around Riho as she prances and dances around the island breaking buildings and acting cheery. I scan the shit out of all of her body parts for science and spam all of my specials at her. Pepper makes her sneeze, speaker pops out a giant radio that plays a J-Pop song and cake throws out a giant cake with a strawberry on the top of it. How the hell did they make a giant cake this big and fit it into the size of a bomb? The strawberry on the top of it is some kind of record breaking feat at the very least. Riho is amused by the cake and bends down for a few seconds giving me just enough time to scan her buttocks. Look, I don't need to keep telling you this, but this is most definitely for science, both scanning the giant lady's bum and me playing this video game.
THE GULLIVER GIRL OF SOUTH ISLAND.
Now we know the girl that reportedly looks like a giant version of Riho Futaba is in fact 99.9% a giant version of Riho Futaba whose intentions are unknown, we can get down to some real business. The government have decided that in no way is communicating with her a good idea, and the only option is to drug her. This time we have to fly around her and hit her in various parts of her body using missiles that look like giant syringes. I'm going to assume that they had a couple of spares laying around incase Godzilla or Mothra turn up again one day. Obviously the drugs you'd use to take down a nuclear lizard are safe to use on a giant lady. I spam the missiles at her, but this time she gets a little aggressive and slaps my helicopter away. I'm told I have sustained light damage. The second time she does it I'm told that I'm in critical danger and I'm about to die! Luckily I drug the hell out of her before she does too much damage and she falls over face first in a swimming pool.
Thankfully the news isn't reporting the drowning of a giant Riho Futaba, instead the news is saying that the national Guard are going to transport Riho to Tokyo by chaining her arms and legs up to helicopters. Unfortunately UFO's are trying to take down the helicopters and I have to stop them. I'm told I need to destroy 50 of them, and this time I get to fly right into the danger zone using a jet. Sadly the plane feels like transporting a cargo plane full of rubber dogshit out of Hong Kong as the camera jitters all over the place. I no longer have any kind of need for speed and spam the lock on missiles randomly into the air until I kill 50 of these unknown bogeys. Thankfully I never have to use the plane again. Demolition Girl... You stink.
A BAD DREAM.
God damn it! The aliens have gotten hold of Riho again. The jellyfish from the beginning of the game has grown into a giant and is sitting on top of her head like a creepy monster hat. Riho is being brainwashed by the monster and using laser beam eyes and hadoukening everything around Mt Fuji. The news is reporting that Riho had been "Docile" until now, but I remember the time she danced through a holiday resort and it exploded into tiny pieces. The good news is that we are 100% certain that this is actually Riho Futaba though, who has apparently been been missing for days... uhh what?
This was the first part I got stuck on. The Helicopter moves so badly and so slowly that it's really hard to avoid any of the aliens missiles while spamming rockets and bullets into Riho's face. It also doesn't help that the helicopter is incredibly fragile when being hit with laser beams and fire bombs. I failed this over ten times unsure on how to do it, but it seems you have to strafe around her head with the wonky, slow controls and spam all of the weapons. I found myself with an odd claw-like technique where I was rapidly tapping R1,R2,L2 while holding onto circle and tapping the stick every so often. Eventually the parasite died, but thank god that was over.
Riho is now skipping towards the city along Shinjuku highway! So I have to slow her down while a percentage meter slowly ticks up as people in the city are evacuated. The game, not content with giving you two vehicles now wants me to drive a tank. The tank can be driven forward and you can spam bullets and shells at Riho to slow her down. The news is reporting that her destructive behaviour has diminished despite the fact she threw at least five cars and two buildings at me during the mission. We know that shit has gotten real as Riho does a little chest wobble with a springy sound that would make Dead or Alive shake its head in disappointment.
The tank can only move forward up the highway, so it's a little strange this just isn't on rails. I have to pull up on the stick while shooting at her and avoiding incoming traffic which can damage my tank. I prevent them from harming me by spinning my cannon around and blowing them to bits, essentially killing the people I'm trying to save! I get through this part on my first try which was a huge amount of relief, but there's one more mission to go and that one is a real pain.
FAREWELL GIANT GIRL
I have been playing this game for just over an hour at this point and I am at the final level. This level has Riho trying to reach the giant head-alien at the top of a tower. You have to alternate between attacking the alien head with missiles and waiting for the shrink-antidote to charge allowing you to fire a few shots into her to make her smaller.
as soon as she shrinks to normal size you have to deal with the head, but that's easier said than done. It's so hard to avoid any of the oncoming attacks, and beating this section feels more like luck than skill. It took me over an hour to beat this level, probably longer than the rest of the game. Once the alien is dead we are greeted to some more still shots of the game where Riho wakes up in an ambulance and says "My head hurts, where am I?" Riho has forgotten everything and everything is fine... The end.
So... That's Demolition Girl. It's umm, well it is. It sure is what it is. The opening and endings in the Japanese version are actual movies instead of still shots. I assume the photo's were to cut down on costs by not having to hire any voice actors. I can find the intro online and the exact same thing happens, so I assume the end is the same. Riho seems to be something of a mascot for the Simple series starring in fighting games, tennis games and various other dating sims etc, in fact she appears in 23 games according to the wiki on this very site. I can't say I really had any fun with Demolition Girl. It was made for a very specific audience and knows how utterly silly it is, it's probably worth watching a video or two online though just for a wobb...giggle.
BONUS GAME GET!
FREAK OUT / STRETCH PANIC
What do Gunstar Heroes, Radiant Silvergun, Dynamite Headdy and Ikaruga all have in common? They're all well loved games developed by Treasure. What does another Treasure developed game, Freak Out (Known as Stretch Panic in the US.) have in common with them? Ummm... Not a lot.
One of the things I like most about Treasure is their odd worlds full of silly enemy designs and bright colours. You can tell right out the gate that this is just as bizarre as any of their other, stranger games with a comic book styled intro were giant words crash in and out of moving panels. The game has no intention of giving you any more information than the barrage of incomprehensible images being thrown at you and slaps you right into the game. (The booklet is the most story you will get and apparently revolves around vanity demons possessing your 12 vain sisters.)
You control a little girl with a giant head named Linda. She is wearing a scarf which seems to have a claw with an evil eye on the end of it, and a mind of its own. You can move Linda around with the left stick, hit L1 to Lock on/adjust the camera and R1 to make the claw lunge forward. You can also use the right stick to control the scarf like an arm which is handy as you will need to grab, pull and stretch various doors, trees, faces and boobs... wait, what?
Freak Out is pretty much an arena based boss rush game. Treasure have always been good at bosses, they have created some of the best out there. Some of the designs here are their usual standard of weird toy box nightmares with smiling faces and pointy noses. Before you begin fighting the bosses, you start off in a small room with a bad, scratchy, black and white photoshop filter over the top of everything. There's a handful of doors with a number on them and a couple that say EX on the front. In the middle of the room is a spinning triangle and a giant bell. If you grab the triangle you can save, but if you hit the bell it throws you into what seems to be an 3D model viewer where you can alter textures and rotate models of the only "enemy-type" the game has to offer.
I was utterly baffled to begin with. The game gives you no hints or instructions, so I spent about fifteen minutes walking around in circles grabbing at everything, eventually I grabbed one of the EX doors in the correct way and the door burst open. Was I ready for what horrors lie beyond the door? No, I don't think I was.
Aghhhh!!! Energetic music! I am thrown into a brightly coloured, badly textured island. I see movement, something in the distance. It's shuffling towards me, it's horrifying... it's... oh my... The best way to describe this monstrosity is to call it a walking pair of boobs. Its simplistic face and the way it bobs about in circles, confused frightens me. It's the kind of thing you should lose sleep over. It's as nightmare inducing as anything in the scariest horror movies and video games.
There's no doubt in my mind that these are enemies so I try to grab it using the not-so-precise control. My first attempt was an unintentional breast grab. It's hard to miss that area as they're so huge, but she doesn't like this and spits out some kind of electrical charge. Oddly, it doesn't harm me at all so I try and grab her again. It's no use, It's like the game wants me to grab and stretch the ladies in inappropriate ways. I quickly remember that I have a lock on and a red arrow points me towards the back of her head. After several unintentional, what can only be described as gropes, I finally grab her hair. I stretch and pull the back of her head so hard that she explodes giving me one point. Success!
I work my way through the level grabbing and exploding all of these terrifying monsters. I accidentally knock one off into the water and she flies back up to land using her boobs as a kind of... pair of helicopter blades. This is most definitely a thing that happens in this game... But anyways, I want her point so I explode her and exit the level with thirteen points.
Now that I have points I can enter any of the four numbered doors that contain bosses. Each of them cost a single point, which I will automatically lose if I fail to beat the boss. The bosses themselves are very clearly Treasure creations with their bright colours and creepily smiling faces. The first four bosses ranging from spinning top mosquito's to toy robots and giant mouthed, firebreathing dolls can easily be beaten by strafing around them, avoiding their attacks and spamming the claw hand. You know when you do damage to them as a percentage in big bright colours pops up on the screen and the enemies health-star in the top right of the screen fills with one of four colours indicating how much damage your attack did. (Blue- very light/Yellow-light/Red-heavy/Green-massive.) If your star fills up before theirs you will be kicked out of the boss room and lose points.
Each enemy seems to have one opening where you can do a high amount of damage to it. (Usually about a quarter of the star.) If you want to do a really damaging move you can use a Scarf Bomb by grabbing the intended target and clicking in L3 and R3 at the same time. Now you can wiggle the right stick wildly and really hurt the enemy. To use this attack will cost you five of your points, so it's quite risky if the boss is one of the trickier ones as you won't be refunded those points if you die.
As you get further and further into the game the bosses require a lot more management of smaller enemies or little tricks to beat them. One girl flies about very high throwing fireballs and rocks at you, and can only be beaten by avoiding her throwing a kind of demon anchor at you and then snapping back on the chain so she flies into the ground and starts vomiting everywhere. Another requires you to keep an evil demon from getting into the room by snapping the environment back at him, and finding which stained glass window he is hiding behind when lighting strikes. Freak Out would be at its best during these moments if it wasn't such a hassle to control. The lock on area is miniscule, and is constantly leaving the target, while the slippy, slidey movement and slow turning can make dealing with multiple threats a real hassle.
Over half of the bosses can be beaten using really cheap tactics which means the game is over in no time. It probably took me under four hours to beat every level, including farming boob monsters for points. There's definitely something here despite its problems, and this should probably be a lot tighter coming from Treasure. It's telling that this is one of the very few games they have made that has a fully 3D world. It feels more like an experiment than a full product, the kind of oddity you'd come across on Steam. Like Demolition Girl this is definitely worth watching a video or two of to get a better idea of its insanity. It's super cheap and worth spending a couple of pennies on just to see the bonkers bosses.
Oh, and those terrifying monstrosities inhabiting this world.
I'm adding this for balance... that's what I'm telling myself anyway.
So here is some words about games again. I'm probably going to do one more of these about the Simple series games with two games, but the rest of them will concentrate on a single game. I have played some weird, some terrible and some surprisingly alright games recently during these experiments. I still haven't played Billy Hatcher.
Thanks for reading. Be excellent to each other.