Monday, February 2, 2015

Game Boy Essential Imports: Momotaro Thunderbolt 2


Console:  Nintendo Game Boy
Genre(s): Platformer
Player(s): 1
Publisher: Hudson
Released: 1994




 During its reign, there was certainly no shortage of great platformers released for Nintendo's original Game Boy.  The best examples of such are often considered to be the big name titles such as the Super Mario Land series, Wario land series, Kirbys dreamland series, Original Megaman series, Metriod, and Donkey Kong Land series of games. While these are all great examples platforming excellence, I believe there is another game that should be considered among these same ranks. Momotaro Thunderbolt 2 is that game I speak of. Released in the winter of 1994 by Hudson, it follows the famous Japanese folklore of Momotaro..the peach boy.




Some Background:

As the story goes, Momotaro came down to our lovely planet in a giant peach, which was discovered floating down a river by an old woman that happened to live nearby. This woman saw the incredibly large peach and did not hesitate to grab it in hopes of providing an exquisite meal for her and her husband. Unfortunately for the couple, as soon as the woman went to prepare the peach for supper, A strange child emerged from within the peach. After escaping the confines of his protective peach, he explained that he was sent from the Heavens to be their son. Having no kin of there own at this time, the couple quickly accepted this notion and got to naming him right away. The name they so cleverly chose was Momotaro. A combination of the words momo (meaning peach), and taro (meaning eldest son).

Why I'm against GMO's
For the next few years Momotaro lived with his new found family, and everything was just peachy (my apologies). During this time Momotaro was gaining much knowledge and his strength was increasing at a rapid pace, surpassing that of all of his peers. Soon the comfortable life of living at home with the old couple was no longer an option for the noble Momotaro. He announced that he would be leaving the house soon, and embarking on a mission to rid a nearby island of the demons that inhabited it, and in doing so bring back the all riches that these demons guarded on their island stronghold. After all his necessary preparations were made and he was given some tasty dumplings, he set off on his quest.


Along the way it is told that Momotaro ran in to 3 different animals that would join him in battle and become his closest of allies. The first was a dog, the next was a monkey, and last but not least a pheasant, yes a pheasant. Now depending on the geographical region in where this story is being told, these animals change a bit from story to story. But, this is the most commonly accepted version of the story. At least that's what I'm telling you since that is what I read when putting this article together. If I'm wrong, oh well. That's what you get for reading an American written retro game blog for your teachings on Japanese folklore. Anyways, with his new animal companions at his side, Momotaro set off on what could be the final journey of his miraculous life. And here is where the game begins...




Gameplay:

This game plays much like Super Mario Bros. 3, in fact it blatantly rips off certain aspects of it. Which honestly is not a bad thing at all. Much like the classic Mario games the goal of most levels is to get from start to finish with as many coins and as little deaths as possible. The levels are even laid out in a similar fashion to Mario games. The player can chose the easy route and basically just sprint to the finish avoiding enemies and disregarding points from power ups and coins. Or, you can actually play the game and explore these levels looking for hidden secrets and undiscovered power ups, collecting as many points and coins as possible along the way.  Each world you play will be composed of typical platforming levels on a world map, broken up by a mini boss battle half way through and a final boss waiting for you at the end of each world. Some examples of the fierce bosses you will be facing along this perilous journey are: a mischievous Tanuki, a gang of Yetis, and an Oni (demon) rock band.



You will begin each level as fully clothed Momotaro (unless you have animal power up which carried over from previous level), which is essentially the same as  normal size Mario. In this form peaches thrown will do normal damage and you can take 2 hits before dieing.

Clothed Momotaro is same idea as Normal Mario

If you are hit by an enemy or their weapons, you will then lose your clothes, which will bounce away from Momotaro slowly ( you can get them back if you are quick about it). This nude form of Momotaro is the same as Mario in his little form. Only 1 hit in this form and you will die. Throwing peaches in this form seems to do less damage than when fully clothed. But it still does damage. (see below)



Nude Momotaro is pretty much the same as little mario

There are also the 3 animal ally forms of Momotaro that can be picked up by collecting this "kabob" like  item. (See image below)



 Once you collect this item, the power up icon shown above Momotaro will cycle between Dog (icon looks like a cat), Monkey (icon looks like a kappa), and Pheasant (icon looks like fat guy).


 Aside from the 3 main animal forms Momotaro can take there are also some hidden "Super" forms. These are designated by the capes Momotaro wears while in these Super forms. Below are the pictures of these forms. Based on the cover art of this game , I am led to believe there are still more hidden forms that i have not yet discovered.

Super Dog Form?


Super Momotaro Form?




Super Monkey Form?
 Regardless of the form Momotaro takes, his main weapon for dealing with foes is peaches. Once you kill a foe by throwing a small peach at them, a medium size peach will often appear. You can pick up the medium sized peaches and throw them at enemies for even more damage. Once you destroy them with your medium peach a large peach will appear. These large peaches provide Momotaro with his most powerful weapon yet. These will come in handy in boss battles no doubt. Enemy projectiles are also able to be turned in peach fodder for Momotaro (this will make more sense when you play the game).


small peach being thrown at enemy

Medium peach appears after killing enemy with small peach

After killing enemy with Medium peach you will get large peach


 People that play this game will often complain that there is no life gauge for the enemies and bosses, and are not sure if they are inflicting damage or not. Worry not I say, rest assured your  precious peaches are doing damage. Some bosses just require a lot of damage to be inflicted to defeat.




When enemies are destroyed Momotaro will often be given coins. Coins are also able to be collected by grabbing what appear to be baskets, scattered around each level. Collect 100 coins and you will get an extra life. Original I know.  Collect as many coins as possible because once you reach the final boss you will need them.

Coin Basket

Coins after killing enemy

Throughout the levels you will notice buildings that have open doors, pressing up at these doors Momotaro will either look inside, or actually enter the building. If you are able to enter the building, prepare for a mini game to present itself. Houses contain mini games that are basically like whack-a-mole but with enemy targets. 

Press Up in doorways to find possible Whack-an-Oni mini games, not all buildings can be entered!

There is also a second style of mini game that can be found in hidden pick-ups throughout the levels. These are race mini games where you need to sprint to the end as quick as possible. Both style of mini games are fun and offer a nice break from the other action. Great implementation.

Press Up on these signs to enter Race mini games

All together there are 7 worlds in this game. Each with its own unique bosses and mini bosses.  Once you have defeated all 7 worlds and the final boss, Momotaro will be allowed to go back to his loving family with many riches in hand, and you can rest easy.





Graphics:

The graphics in this game are great for an original Game Boy game. Putting shame to the earliest Mario entry and some other platformers on this console. Each character and enemy is well detailed in a nice cartoon fashion that greatly suits the games design and adds a level of humor that carries on throughout the game. Levels are very well designed and definitely made to benefit the player that likes to explore. Yes, there are games with better graphics but for this title I honestly couldn't ask for more. This title also features some great color and theme options when used in conjunction with the Super Game Boy on SNES or SFC. I would definitely consider this one of the better looking platformers on the console.



Music/Sound:

Music and sound in Momotaro Thunderbolt 2 is good. Each world (not level) has its own unique tunes but honestly they are usually pretty forgettable. Boss battles will have their own special tunes but its usually just something faster paced and more repetitive. Nothing magical happening in this department.





Controls:

The controls in this game are great. Simple and solid. Momotaro turns on a dime, no feeling as though he is always slipping or running on ice here (unless you are on ice in the winter world). Jumps are responsive and throwing peaches at enemies often requires precise timing.

Left/Right on D-pad: Control Momotaros movement
Up on D-pad: Look up / Enter building / Enter mini game
Down on D-pad: Crouch, look down

A Button: Jump / Fly (if Pheasant)

B Button: Throw Peach/ Pick up Peach



Final Impressions:




This is a great game, and I believe its one of the best platformers on the Game Boy. Any fan of platformers or Mario games should not miss this title. The difficulty level starts off very easy, and stays that way pretty much till the final couple worlds where it really steps up. This is when those extra lives from coin collecting will really come in handy. Secrets hidden throughout each world give the game some good replay value as well. Though this is a Japanese import, zero knowledge of the Japanese language is needed to enjoy this game. Making it about as import friendly as a game can get. Currently this game can  be picked up in the sub 10 dollar range on ebay.

**Notes: This title also goes by Momotarou Dengeki 2.

Bonus Images:































1 comment :

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