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  opened by paleface at 03:45:29 04/24/04  
  last modified by paleface at 12:25:50 03/05/24  
  paleface [sys=PCCD; cat=Shooter_Horiz; reg=JPN]
Name translates to something like "Love Super Big Brother."
There are a lot of games in the Choaniki series of horizontal shooters, all involving large barenaked men, and I've played more of them than I probably really should have (three, last count). Ai-Choaniki is the earliest one that I've played (although apparently there's even an earlier one on PCE) and it's also the best.
For one thing, the game actually plays well, and makes the later PlayStation versions look like the cheap male bimbos that they really are. You've got your regular shot, which comes from your er center and makes your muscle man contort as if he's... well, "cranking off a batch of hate paste" so to speak. These shots automatically shoot right at the nearest target. Then, if you press the stick one way, then the opposite way, you'll fire off your more powerful particle attack that plows right through everything. The back-forth things sounds a little clunky but actually works quite well in practice. Finally, every once in a while your sweaty upright warrior musters up enough power to shoot out a huge white beam across the screen. Does a lot of damage but also freezes you in place, so if someone's coming up behind you at the time, you're it. I haven't figured out the timing or triggering of the beam, it just seems to come out when it feels like it.
You have multiple lives and can take three hits per life. If this sounds too easy, keep in mind that your dude stays straight upright the whole time, giving him a large target profile. On the other hand, you can hold the other button to spin in place, which essentially makes you invulnerable.
That's right, as in you can just sit there and not get hit. You can't shoot back while spinning, but unless you're fighting a boss, you wouldn't really need to unless you're going for score, and the game not only displays score as Japanese letters rather than Roman numbers, it also doesn't appear to have a high score table--or any options at all, for that matter--so there really isn't much opportunity to go for a high score.
However, little hourglasses at the top of the screen run down while you spin, and if they run out, it's game over. In fact, remember what I said about multiple lives earlier? You actually have one life per hourglass, but spinning depletes them gradually, so while spinning you are essentially dying a slow death except that good sexy female fairies come along every now and then to recharge your hourglass meter a bit.
But enough of gameplay, let's get to the gayness. This game is pretty gay, with various buffed-out versions of hot man-flesh cascading across the screen in level after level, punctuated by large manly bosses. And when the game supports simultaneous two-player---oh, the scandalous possibilities, children!
And it all looks so good, too, with lots of parallax, a deep color palette, lots of onscreen activity with little slowdown (but some flicker at times), and most of all big, vibrant sprite designs bounding around the screen in all directions (some stages scroll up to down instead of left to right). Throw in a soundtrack so rich that it would nearly drive any straight man around the bend and you've got yourself a winnar.
Ai-Choaniki came out in 1995 and must have been one of the last PC Engine games. A good way for the machine to go out? Well... actually yes. If only the later Choaniki games were anywhere near this good.

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