Saturday, January 8, 2011

Update 1/8 - Asterix, Z.H.P., Ristar

Did you know there are over 30 games starring European comic book hero Astérix? One of our staff members called the series "the French equivalent of Dragon Ball" based on how prolific it is. As an American, I've always been mostly in the dark on it, as the article's introduction indicates. I only first found out about it when one of the Genesis games was localized, then later had a brief discussion with a French woman during my tenure at a Borders bookstore, mostly in discussing how astoundingly popular it was in Europe and how astounding unpopular it was in the US. I guess it's not something that that would have gone over well, even had it been properly introduced, especially since the average US citizen probably doesn't know what a "Gaul" is. This isn't a disparagement of the general public but rather an indictment of an education system which (in my experience) was perfectly content in teaching the same 300 years of American history over and over.

But I digress!

There are tons of amusing facts to be found in the the Asterix piece. There are at least two games that were released in North America that were Asterix games overseas. There were three live action movies, all starring Gerard Depardieu, two of which had games based of them. One title features tons of amusing video game parodies, including foes dressed up as Ryu (from Street Fighter), Rayman, and Sonic the Hedgehog. Some of the Sega Master System games were done by the same guys behind the Mickey Mouse games for the system, which were quite good. And some of them have quite good soundtracks too. Please do enjoy the history lesson.

In even sillier news is a look at the recent-ish PSP title Z.H.P.: Unlosing Ranger vs. Darkdeath Evilman. I still rather admire Nippon Ichi, in spite of terrifying dreck like Criminal Girls (possibly the most misogynstic mainstream game yet made!), but they haven't exactly been marketing their recent titles well. Z.H.P., which stands for Zettai Hero Project, isn't exactly a snappy name, and their promo video promises tons and tons of grinding, which may speak to their hardest-of-core audience but alienates everyone else. I think that aspect is overblown quite a bit, and it's still quite possibly to thoroughly enjoy playing on regular (i.e. not devoting 100+ hours to it) terms. It's actually a weird little dungeon crawler that takes the mechanics of a Rogue-like and gives them a crazy Nippon Ichi-style overhaul, with all of the bizarre yet entrancing mechanics they're known for.

Also up is a review of Ristar, a mascot platformer by Sega that never quite caught on. I never played it when it came out, but recently experienced it on one of the recent compilations and found it was quite good.

I've also been wanting to start up more weekly columns, so to launch this campaign I present Your Weekly Kusoge, which will highlight a new and hilariously terrible game with each update. We promise to steer clear of the style usually featured in these types of articles - we have no problem with the Angry Video Game Nerd, but heaven knows the Internet doesn't need any more of them - and will seek to dig up stuff that isn't usually featured. Yes, it will have its fair share of inscrutable Famicom games, mascot platformers and licensed dreck, but there's a huge library of awful PC games also worth mocking. That being said, out first entry will be one familiar if you've listened to Retronauts - Ikki, a rather noteable (for being awful) Famicom game about a Japanese farmer's rebellion. We picked it because, according to the Japanese Wikipedia, it was the game that inspired the term "kusoge" to begin with.

Our featued article is Cotton, which was originally written about five years ago and hasn't had any real news since. But we are holding a contest soliciting suggestions for which import PSOne import game Monkey Paw should bring over to the North American PSN next, and Cotton gets our vote. Pretty please?


  1. Speaking of your Cotton article, it's always bothered me that Magical Chase isn't mentioned at the end. Obviously it's not related technically, but c'mon. Have you seen Magical Chase? It might as well be a Cotton game!

  2. It's mentioned at the end, though just in passing. I always meant to give it its own article but never got around to it.

  3. I too recommend ZHP. Like the other non-Disgaea games set in the Disgaea universe, it offers crazy new mechanics while remaining technically a tactical RPG. Story-wise, ZHP is set on Earth... and "Counter-Earth", a parallel planet with an equivalent monster character for every human. Previous games have hinted at what Disgaea-universe-Earth is like, and it turns out it's just as crazy as the Netherworld.

    The "grinding" mechanics are interesting, as it's usually a better idea to press on in whatever area you're in, but you're rewarded for dying with stat boosts and special perks. Overall, a very different but still very Nippon-Ichi-style game.

  4. Ristar really doesn't get the attention it deserves.

    Pointless extra, the werehog levels of sonic Unleashed were basicly a 3d ristar.

  5. Great choices, as always, but I'm especially glad that you got SystemPrisma's and Nippon Ichi's brilliant games from this past year. I can't believe they were ignored for year-end awards. Er, rather, they oughtn't have. I can definitely believe that they were

  6. Whoa, massive Asterix article. I read the comics as a kid, but I don't think I ever played any of the games. Reading the article is going to be a blast; thank you.