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Simple 2000 Series Vol.64: The Splatter Action
  opened by paleface at 02:51:55 06/14/05  
  last modified by paleface at 02:45:14 06/16/05  
  paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Beat_em_up; loc=JPN]
Unique and surprising little side-scrolling isometric beat-em-up for this day and age. Your cute little super-deformed Jack-O-Lantern-headed dude toddles around various groovy and spooky levels, dispatching baddies with his feet, fists, head, and--when he has sufficient gasoline--his dual chainsaws.
The individual baddies get recycled a lot through the seven or so levels, but each boss provides a unique treat, as they are awesome and very inventive, like the haunted "Candy Burgers" franchise that throws explosive burgers and laser beams at you.
You collect money from the baddies and can use it to upgrade your max health and fuel, get double-jumping and blocking abilities, a stand-in Dummy (useful) and other such amenities.
You only get one life, and if you lose it you can only continue back at the beginning of the current stage (unless you had a Dummy, in which case you sort of resurrect instantly, the Dummy dying the death for you). Continues seem unlimited, however. By the looks of the manual there's an unlockable Survival mode, and a few unlockable options--I haven't unlocked them yet, so I can't comment.
The game likes to throw nasty jumping puzzles at you with collapsing floors where you can't really judge depth. Those parts suck--you don't necessarily die, you just lose a heart, and get teleported back to the beginning of the jumping sequence. But still, they're annoying. Beating things up, on the other hand, is fun. Your lil' Jack controls spritely with the analog stick, and punches and kick combos fly with just a single button. Press R1 & L1 together to whip out the chainsaws to add real attack power. Vrrooom vrrrooom!
The game is hard--I can't get past the first level on Normal. On the other hand, I can steam right through with only a few continues (well, up to the last level so far) on the next skill level down, so you might make a case for some kind of balance issue here. I don't even want to think about the Hard difficulty level.
Graphics are surprisingly crisp, and the framerate is hoppin'. Models tend to be cartoonish and fairly low poly, but they're animated in a splendidly lively, organic way, and a certain flattish style successfully brings to mind the 2D isometric side-scrollers of years gone by.
It's a small game. Each stage seems to have the same metal guitar riff. As I mentioned, the same cutesy little goblin badguys appear over and over. But darn it, it is--aside from the occassional irritating jumping puzzles--an endearing effort, with great production values for a budget title. I might have to make a habit of busting this out on Halloweens to amuse the little ones (and yes, you can turn the silly-looking blood from red to green).
  paleface 01:39:36 06/15/05
Oooh I forgot to mention the combo system. When you bust out your chainsaws, your dude whips them around in a full circle, and if you manage to hit three or more enemies this way, you get this big flashy effect and they die and a huge amount of coins pop out. So, if you were gonna be a pro and get lots of money in the game, you'd try to do that as much as possible.
One of the shop items costs $5000, and that will probably take most of the game to get--which means that if you want whatever it is, you'll have to go without enlarging your life/gas meters, double-jumping, and so forth. A real challenge! I wonder what it does...

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