Saturday, 22 March 2008

That's Incredible! (Toons)

First, let me apologize for being derelict in my duties. I hope I can make it up to you all with a brief review of a Saturn game few know exist, and even fewer have tried. It's Nazomakaimura Incredible Toons, a peculiar hybrid that brings together the creepy characters of the Ghouls 'n Ghosts series with the Rube Goldberg-inspired gameplay of Dynamic Software's Incredible Toons computer game.

This time, you're not playing as the brave knight Arthur, his hated foe Lucifer, or even those annoying little red demons who somehow got their own game. This time, you've got a behind the scenes role, strategically setting objects on the playfield that cause comical chain reactions. The only games that even come close to playing like this one are Lemmings and the Japanese Super NES release Mario and Wario... and unlike either of those titles, Nazoma Incredible Toons doesn't have a set objective.

If you're Japanese, this means you'll need to carefully read the instructions at the beginning of each round before you can proceed. However, if you're reading this without the aid of Babelfish, you won't have that luxury, and will have to feel around a bit to reveal the goal of each stage. Sometimes you'll want to do what comes naturally to the seasoned Ghouls 'n Ghosts player and humiliate Lucifer with whatever you can find. However, it's not always that simple. In some stages, you'll want both Lucifer AND Arthur to meet a comical end. In others, you won't see either of them, and will have to randomly drop objects on the playfield in the hopes of stumbling upon the solution.

Here's a video of the game in action, supplied by YouTube user OpticalHaze. Even he was stumped by the tenth stage, which requires the player to hit two coffins with a handful of bouncing balls. I had a little more luck, but hit a brick wall after reaching a stage which required the player to hit a trigger multiple times with a single catapult. So the game is tough... not in the the traditional "pull your hair out because the damned Red Arremer shoved you into the river AGAIN" Ghouls 'n Ghosts kind of way, but in a way that taxes your brain rather than your reflexes.

Even if that kind of gameplay doesn't appeal to you, you've got to admit that Nazo Incredible Machines has its charm. The graphics are pleasant enough, with squishy super deformed characters set against gorgeous still artwork depicting scenes from the Ghouls 'n Ghosts series. However, it's the music that really puts this game over the top. In addition to the haunting refrains you've come to expect from the series, you're offered pepped up jazz and new age remixes that you wouldn't expect at all, but work pretty well with the game's lighthearted theme. The control is probably the game's weak point... it's clear that Nazo Incredible Toons was designed to be played with a mouse, and there's no indication if it's actually compatible with one. However, since the pace is so laid back and there's no action to speak of, the stiff, awkward control can be tolerated. Just expect to hit the pause button by mistake a lot when you goof up and need to reset the playfield objects.

Nazoma Incredible Toons has got to be one of the most bizarre gaming hybrids ever, ranking right up there with Battletoads vs. Double Dragon and that time Squaresoft put Mario characters in a turn-based RPG. However, it's worth a shot if you'd like to give your noggin a workout and don't mind scaling the game's ten foot high language barrier. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a puzzle to solve!


ArugulaZ said...

Whew, this went over like a lead balloon. Thought you guys would be more interested in this!

NebachadnezzaR said...

It's not like that, ArugulaZ. Both Father K and elend are on vacations (sort of), so I'm the only one left, and unfortunately with the easter and all that I still haven't got the time to read your post properly. Don't worry, I'll read it and comment it when I have the time and don't think that we don't value your input ;)

NebachadnezzaR said...

So, I've finally managed to get some time off to read your post and let me tell you, that's some fine piece of writing you got there!

Don't worry about being "derelict in your duties", you've warned us from the start that you wouldn't be able to post often, so as long as you show up once in a while, specially with awesome posts like this one, we're happy to have you on board. :)

Now, about that game, it reminds me a lot of the Incredible Machine for the pc, but with the obvious Ghoul's 'n' Ghosts theme. Too bad there's no mouse for the Saturn and being in Japanese certainly won't get the game much fans over here, but still it looks very playable if you have the patience for it.

Thanks for telling us of this little hidden gem! :)

ArugulaZ said...

Not a problem! Just wait 'till you see my next post! :D

fatherkrishna said...

Ah a fabulous post Arugulaz! i'm sorry I wasn't able to post a reply earlier, as I have just spent a week in sunny Cyprus!

It's great to hear about these obscurer Japanese titles, and I really feel that reviews such as this give a certain weight to the Junkyard, as a serious Saturn resource, that my own slightly whimsical posts fail to deliver.

I also understand that when you put a lot of effort into a post/review, the ammount of comments you receive can seem like a gauge of interest. But remember, the hit counter is proof that a lot of people pass by this place without leaving a comment. I wish more would, as it's great to get feedback.

Have no doubt whatsoever though, your sterling work and expertise is vastly appreciated, however regularly you are able to post! ;D