The Wakusei Aton Gaiden wiki last edited by ReverendHunt on 04/06/14 08:10AM
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Wakusei Aton Gaiden ("Planet Aton Side-Story") is a vertical-scrolling shoot 'em up that was created by the Japanese National Tax Agency (Kokuzeichou) in order to teach children and older players about the issues surrounding Japan's bubble economy by way of a sci-fi themed parable. The story concerns the eponymous planet Aton and two young pilots who attempt to save it from some sort of economy-based crisis - one that just so happens to manifests itself as an alien invasion. The game can be played by one or two players, with player one assuming the role of the male pilot Kanta while the second player assumes the role of the female pilot Yuki.
The game was made accessible to players via a system not unlike the Disk Writer service, though presumably as a government-funded game it was made freely available. It is thought that copies were given away at some manner of a Japanese tax awareness convention or from an educational group that went to various schools across the country to lecture students. As with many Disk Writer exclusive games, it is extremely difficult for modern day Famicom collectors to find.
Wakusei Aton Gaiden is superficially reminiscent of many vertical-scrolling shooters of the era, such as Star Soldier or Zanac. Players need to shoot down enemy waves as they appear from the top, sides and bottom of the screen. The player is assisted by "helper" ships, which provide various boons: one repairs the player's craft if it is damaged, one provides temporarily invincibility and the last clears the screen of enemies.
If the player receives an enemy bullet, their ship becomes obviously damaged and their rate of fire drops by half with further attacks causing the destruction of the player's ship. There is no strict penalty for death, however: the game is meant to be educational first and foremost, so the player simply respawns as often as they need to. Instead, the game simply ends after an eight minute time limit has elapsed.
In addition to the main shoot 'em up mode, the game will often pause to ask the player a multiple choice question usually (but not always) concerning Japan's economy. Answering these questions correctly adds a large bonus to the player's score. At the end of the eight minute time limit, the player's score is added up and takes into account their number of lost ships, the number of enemies shot down and how accurately they answered the questions provided. This screen resembles that of a paycheck or an accounts report.