Thursday, 10 April 2008

Kyofu No Mujintou (Shark Island) Review

Before I went to buy the game yesterday, I was looking for some online reviews of it.

Unlike the more well-known Nintendo Game & Watch series, detailed Bandai reviews are little low on the ground, especially in english.

The few that I did find were quite low on comments about the game-play.

So, since that's the case, here's my rundown of the game!

Everyone I showed the game to, from young to old were piqued with curiosity about the new toy I held in my hands. First comment I got was, "That looks old!" Yes, it does. In fact, this game is circa 1982. Some people weren't even born yet!

I guess it gives away my age a little to admit I grew up with these things. It was an exciting time to be a kid. Those were the days. Having said that, even the young 'uns wanted to have a go at it.

Probably the one thing that stands out the most is the solar power. No Batteries! As far as I'm aware, Bandai were the only company releasing solar-powered games. These are all the others that were released at the time.

Another thing that stands out is that unlike the Nintendo releases, the single screen has two changing states of play instead of the usual one static screen of the first single screen of the first Game & Watch's.

The first screen shows your plane crashing into the sea. The aim of this part of the game is to simply dodge the sharks by moving left and right in the three positions available.

It sounds really easy, and to begin with it is, but I was surprised at how many times I made careless moves into their hungry jaws.

Once you reach about 100 points, the screen will display an island to which you hit left to go to the second part of the game.

The second part is a little more entertaining.

Once on the island you get to use a BIG STICK to bash the sharks coming up towards the island over the head repeatedly while avoiding the falling coconuts from the tree. Big fun!

Get caught by the sharks or concussed by the coconuts, then it's back to screen one.

What separates these games from the ones today, is that the graphics are basic LCD sprites, and sound is nothing more than blips and beeps (I prefer to have the sound off).

There aren't really "next levels". The whole aim of this era is to get points until you finally die of exhaustion.

There is definitely a Bandai feel to the games, like I think Nintendo has a certain quality. I don't think the quality of games is any worse than a Nintendo title. Still, I don't think they have a truly great classic game like Donkey Kong.

Just like Nintendo, the game-play between different game titles can be quite similar. It does bring back strong memories of my short-lived Invaders Of The Mummy's Tomb.

It doesn't really replace a Nintendo DS. Children today would probably get bored of it in 20 minutes, but "big kids" like me can't get enough of it.

While there isn't yet an official collection of Game & Watch titles on the Nintendo DS (apart from the Club Nintendo giveaway), Nintendo has slyly added four (Ball, Flagman, Manhole and Judge) of the classic games in their Rakubiki Jiten (japanese and english dictionary).

A great bonus as the dictionary is an excellent alternative to a standalone electronic dictionary.

A DS cookbook, Shaberu! DS Oryōri Navi has a hidden Game & Watch Chef game.

Finally, it's possible to run Gameboy Advance carts like Game & Watch Gallery 4 on the DS for some classic Nintendo old school gaming.

I have to say that getting the required stars to unlock the extra games is a BITCH.

Another great thing about the DS is that you can run old school games like Quake using homebrew.

This is also the method for using the great Project JDS kana practice program I mentioned in an earlier post.

So after all that, was Kyofu No Minjintou worth getting? Hell yes! I feel refreshingly more hip than the guys sporting their DS's when I'm on the train, and for the equivalent of $10, you can't go wrong.