Our penultimate game for this month-long TurboGrafx-16 feature is Samurai Ghost (Genpei Touma Den: Kan no Ni): a rather perplexing action game that is the sequel to the even odder Genpei Touma Den - perhaps best known to a few of us as memorable GCCX entry The Genji and the Heike Clans. Oddly, TG-16 owners received the sequel but not the original, which wouldn't see a localization until a decade later with a Namco compilation for the PS1.
As with the first game, the player controls the phantasmal warrior Kagekiyo who is out to avenge the death of his entire clan (including himself) by their rivals the Heike, who apparently cheated by falling in with demons or youkai or some such. So it's kind of like the Hatfields and McCoys, if you played a zombified Hatfield trying to gun down a bunch of demonically possessed McCoys who are flying around breathing fire on you. Actually, that doesn't sound too bad an idea for a game either. Get on it, AAA studios.
Ghost Samurais Follow the Boo-shido Code
Anyway, I leave behind a lot more questions about Samurai Ghost than answers. Seems like that kind of game, though, if watching Arino struggle through the obtuse The Genji and the Heike Clans gave me any indication of what this franchise is all about. It does seem strange that the game's pared away a lot of the odder aspects of the first game to emphasize the swordfights and platforming, but at the same time it probably had the serendipitous effect of making it more palatable for US localization. A hypothetical American me of 1992 wouldn't need to know what tengus are or who Yoritama was if I'm just given a cool zombie samurai protagonist and a bunch of weird monsters to chop into pieces. Kids of the 90s were uncomplicated that way.
As I'm finding with a lot of these TG-16 games, Samurai Ghost juuuust skirts the line between "this is an all right game" and "this is a great game that deserves to be remembered as a classic of the 16-bit era". Really haven't seen too many that manage to stay firmly in that second category, despite covering a lot of games so far that have been at the very least interesting and potentially quite fun. I guess it's like what Jeff was saying about the Amiga: there are folk who swear by it (and I loved its admittedly inferior cousin the Atari ST, so I'm with them), but you have to wonder when seeing most of it for the first time years later if nostalgia isn't carrying most of that weight.
Anyway, all this conclusive talk can wait until tomorrow when Octurbo finishes for good with my final (and probably quite obvious, given the date and recent subject matter) game. Jury's still out on whether I bother completing TurboMento-12 - I think I've done more to promote the TurboGrafx-16 so far this year than even NEC did back in the day. See you all on Halloween, folks, and in case I don't - have a fun one.