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"The analog-control minigames in The Kaiten are very reminiscent of the Gacharoku games."
A party game where each of the twenty minigames can be controlled by just the analog stick, rather similar to the later Gacharoku games on PS1 (see entry 92 and entry 669), right down to incredibly over-the-top presentation and the super-cheesy voice announcing each game. The twirling in The Kaiten tends to be more frantic, however, and indeed I know of someone who rubbed a hole in the palm of their skin after a prolonged head-to-head competition.
Where the Gacharoku games support four players at once, The Kaiten allows only two. I haven't actually played this two-player yet, but fortunately you can play all of the games single-player, even though this is almost certainly not as much fun as competing against someone else. When played single-player, you receive a score based on your performance, and I think the game saves these for you (it auto-saves something, at least).
The content of the games varies widely, from a single level of Arkanoid (this is a Taito-developed game, after all) to a game where you lead a ball through a maze by rotating the maze around the ball, like the later "KoroKoro Post Nin" (see entry 148), to a game where you have to sculpt a vase by spinning it at the right speed. Most of them are highly intuitive, although some left me guessing. Oh, and I also like the one where you try to steer a drunken salaryman through a crowd to the train station as the earth seems to sway from side-to-side around him.
The presentation is top-notch and perhaps unmatched in terms of a heady mix of technical mastery and Japanese game-show-style zaniness. The games use 2D, 3D or a mix thereof, whatever it takes to get each minigame across, and all of them manage a unique and memorable visual style as well as a silky-smooth framerate. Nutty scaling and color-cycling effects explode across the screen with nary a hiccup or pause--the FX folks who worked on this certainly knew how to get the most out of the PS1 hardware. It's almost ludicrous that such wiz-bang graphics accompany goofy minigames rather than some sort of epic 3D adventure title, but I'm hardly complaining as they give The Kaiten a feeling of effortless magic and style, ripping along at a nearly insane speed.
I'm a little scared to try this seriously two-player seeing as how my palm hurts after just a half-hour playing it solo (insert masturbation jokes here!) but I suppose I would like to give it a go. I'm glad that mrdriller (he of the hole-in-the-palm) suggested that I get a used PS1 analog pad just for this game, as I can certainly see how you could wear down an analog stick after a long session of this. The designers probably even anticipated that, and they let you switch to using either the left or right stick on the controller.