Sunday, December 28, 2014

NES Essential Imports: Yume Penguin Monogatari

Console: Famicom
Genre(s): Platformer/Shooter
Players: 1
Developer: Konami
Released: 1991

Side scrolling platformers had become a staple for Nintendo Famicom in the late 80's and early 90's. With so many titles being released, it takes a truly unique game to separate itself from the pack. Enter Yume Penguin Monogatari. Developed by Konami in 1991, Yume Penguin Monogatari was exclusively released in Japan for the Nintendo Famicom. This unusual story is based around Penta, an obese penguin, who needs to lose weight in order to win back his incredibly shallow ex-girlfriend, Penko. This is not such an easy task, however, as Penko's new boyfriend, Genji, has dispatched a team of food throwing goons to foil Penta's plans.


Gameplay is a little different from most other platformers out there. You will notice quickly that there is no health bar for Penta. Instead you are given a weight loss meter with a broken heart near the middle. The broken heart represents Penta's weight loss goal that needs to be met in order for Penko to take him back and to successfully complete any of the stages. Sounds easy, right? Wrong. Genji's band of hooligans attack you with irresistible treats that Penta will eat if he comes into contact with them. This causes Penta to gain weight and get slower. In order to lose weight you must collect the weight loss drinks that are located throughout the level or generated by killing your enemies. As you lose weight you will gradually gain access to different types of attacks. As obese Penta, you are limited to a slow body slam type of attack. As you continue to lose weight, you will gain the ability to kick and eventually you will unlock a ranged attack that allows you to take down your enemies from afar. Your characters speed and jump height will also increase with weight loss. 

The game is unique in the fact that it's a hybrid plaformer/shooter and will alternate between the two throughout all six stages of the game. There is also one additional level that is a final showdown between Penta and Genji. You start out on a tropical island, where you are faced with a handful of angry, fruit wielding thugs ready to force Penta to eat. You must traverse the jagged landscape while avoiding being hit by enemies and their food in order to keep your weight down. At the end of each level you will be presented with a cut scene that will typically have some comical dialogue between Penta and Penko, which will usually end with Penko telling Penta he is still too heavy to date her. In the 2nd stage you will take to the air in a comically undersized plane for the side-scrolling shooter portion of the game. Your plane comes equipped with a standard, slow firing gun that can be upgraded from power-ups along the way. When you eventually make your way through the aerial onslaught, you will be met by a mini-boss that you must defeat in order to advance. The game continues with this trend throughout the rest of your journey. 

As you make your way through the variety of levels, from tropical islands to giant birthday cakes, you'll eventually make it to the final stage where you will face off against your arch nemesis, Genji. For this final battle you will pilot a jet from a 3rd person, 3D perspective in an attempt to destroy Genji and his craft, which is also holding your beloved Penko. It's a pretty reckless move on Penta's part, but I guess whatever gets the job done.

Spoiler: After the final bout is over and you destroyed Penko's boyfriend, Penta and Penko fly away to a tropical island somewhere to live out their days. Upon arrival, Penko reveals that she, herself is extremely overweight (it's pretty amazing how well she hides it) and begins to binge eat to no end. Penko facepalms in disbelief as he watches his beloved Penko eat everything in sight.


Graphically, this game is solid. All the characters are very bright and colorful. And the animation is really well done, especially when compared to other titles from the same era. The levels are well laid out and really help set the overall feel to the game. 


Lets just say the music is probably not going to be the number one reason you will love this game. Overall it was good, but just not great. Konami typically has better music in their games. The sound FX are pretty decent, however, as expected. 


D-Pad: Move Character
A Button: Jump
B Button: Attack

Final Impressions:

Overall this game is solid. The levels are well designed and challenging. Enemies were well done and frequently placed. Not to the point where the game becomes impossible to play, but just to the point that some areas needed a little finesse and thought to get through. The story is great and Konami did an excellent job in delivering it. It does make me wonder what state of mind they were in when they came up with this plot. It's too bad this game never made it stateside, but I am sure they had a number of reasons as to why they did not release out here. The US probably wasn't capable of handling such a politically incorrect story. Regardless, this is a great game that has moved quite high on the list of Essential Imports and I hope you all enjoy playing it as much as we did.

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