Welcome everyone to the Underground Railroad of Turbografx-16 retro-gaming. I'm your host Harriet Turbomento and this... is a horribly offensive way to introduce a feature. Let's just all pretend this intro never happened. Nope, stop reading.
NEC's Genji Tsuushin Agedama - our game for July - is a bizarre take on a run-and-gun in that you are actually constantly running throughout much of the game. It combines something like the fast precision platforming of Sonic with a horizontal shoot 'em up like Gradius, complete with all sorts of curious power-ups and waves of enemies homing straight towards you. Apparently it's based on an anime or something. I have no idea, the whole thing's in Japanese and I'm not going to make any sense of it. What do I look like, a polyglot? I'm not even the slightest bit amphibious.
Anyway the game is pretty interesting, if a tad too obscure for our own database even. But don't take my word for it? (This game also features rainbows.)
Run and Gun Fun in a Bun, With Mento-kun Time for a super exciting intro movie. What could that dastardly Dr. Wily be up to? In his flying castle? From the far-flung future of over 13 years ago? Whatever it is, knock-off Mega Man and Roll aren't too pleased to see it. You can tell by the number of action lines. "I saved up for months to buy this bluescreen, and he just tore straight through it with his Guts Tank! How will I pretend to be in a car chase now, or flying through the sky?" (translated from the original Japanese kanji, via EUDict) Both breath- and pantslessly, he dives across the room to activate this rabbit robot. Named the iHop. It's probably not called that. It's probably "rabbot-chan". This is probably an anime. This is probably my life that is slowly and irrevocably ebbing away. Welcome to Genji Tsuushin Agedama! Those are all words that mean something in a different language. Except Genji and Agedama - those are names. That guy up there is Agedama. The Not Mega Man guy. Him. And this is the game itself. Agedama will constantly run forward and the screen auto-scrolls as a result. It's all you can do to not just run into everything. Fortunately for such a little guy he's packing a lot of firepower with which to clear a path. As you can see here with this Wingull and a sentient orange, the idea is that enemies fly in and are then promptly blown to shit. This is where the shoot 'em up comparison comes in. (Telephone pole guy is apparently just background dressing. My guess is that he's hiding from all the evil oranges.) This is the other part of the shoot 'em up equation - power-ups. They basically seem to come in three flavors: The red magatama (the yin/yang half moon things) are health - you can see seven of a possible eight at the top right. The blue magatama are, well, shoot 'em up options. In that it summons one of the friends you saw on the title screen and they help out by circling the hero (like one of those shields), adding to his firepower (like a regular option) and occasionally turning the hero indestructible. Seems largely randomized which one you get. Or there's an order I'm not spotting because WHOOO CA- Here's invincible mode. He just has this goofy expression and plows through everything. Just as well, as those bouncing logs (from Blammo!) are hard to shoot down in time before you run into them. They're more for dodgin' really. Some axes someone just decided to throw at me. Here I'm demonstrating the only defensive move: the roll. The roll only seems to work some of the time, and the animation is short so you need to use it with precise timing, but it's handy when you're in a jam. Things have to be flying towards your head for it to actually work, though - which means those tiny satsuma beasts are still a threat. As much of one as they were previously, anyway. The game does have platforming in it. Failure to land on a series of these classic waterfall rocks results in a loss of a single hit point, which isn't too bad. It's an extra challenge but it's not something that will just insta-kill you for the heck of it, which I certainly appreciate in a game like this when you're constantly sprinting at full tilt. This is the first mid-boss, most of which are lion-themed for some odd reason. It's during mid-boss/boss fights that you finally stop running and can move left like a regular person for once. Flamemane (not his real name) constantly hops around, so you need to make use of both sides of the screen to keep tabs on him. He also has a laser cannon on his back, because being on fire and also being an apex predator apparently wasn't sufficient. Anyhoo, to complete a half-explained thought: The third type of power-up drop unlocks special attacks. You can see a bunch of symbols under the score that go from red to blue to green (and eventually purple and yellow) and each correspond to a stronger attack like the powerful green waves you see here. However, to use them you have to charge them up. It's sort of like Cyan's (from Final Fantasy VI) Bushido attacks - the longer you charge up, the more powerful the eventual attack. It does mean not shooting at anything for a while though, and that can be pretty dangerous. A bunch of apple treants (what is it with this game and fruit? It's nature's candy!) and that green rabbit robot from the intro. Touching it brings you to... ...this weird little intermission where Strawberry Shortcake here dispenses some manner of moonspeak wisdom and sends you on your way. No idea what all this is in aid of, but I think it refills your health and lets you restart from this point if you croak later on. The rabbits aren't often this easy to reach, though. This is the first boss. I have no idea what it is or what it's dressed as. Pretty intimidating bow-tie on his banana suit though. The way to beat Mr Bananagrabber is to shoot the crap out of him, just like everything else. Hey, if you want strategy try Shin Megami Tensei IV. You do have to be careful with the dodging whenever he charges with his spear like this though. In true 16-bit era style, once he turns red the battle is all but won. Remaining life is added to the score at the end of each round and that just about covers the first stage. Yay! We're ganji shoeshine aggy-something or other. The present tense verb of that. That's what we're doing.
As usual, the continuing adventures of whatever the heck this kid is can be found in the comments below. It's only going to get stranger, folks. Just... don't expect this one to go on as long as some of the others. It's pretty straightforward. Fun, though! Sort of like an
endless runner but with an end point, and thus a reason to want to play it.