Ten Minute Trials is a weekly column, appearing every Sunday, in which I take four games I’ve never played and spend ten minutes with each one. Even a lengthy RPG should do something interesting within that time — if a videogame squanders its precious first impression, then I can’t trust the developers to deliver a satisfying product. With literally thousands of games at my disposal, I have to set some standard to determine which games deserve my time. Ten minutes is that standard.
It starts on a boat. I’m lounging in my chair, feet up on top of the table, and then some hoodlums show up and cruelly blow up my table with a grenade. Those bastards! Harnessing the power of digital sound processing, my selected hero declared: “You won’t get away with this, you scum.”
I then picked up a ROCKET LAUNCHER and blasted some mini-skirted lady in the face as blue proclamations of SHBROOM!! SHBROOM!! flashed across the screen.
Soon after, I grabbed an AK-47 and shot up a tiger and its Arabian trainers. When I ran out of ammo, I kicked stools across the ship’s deck, striking wicked sailors’ weak points (their shins) for massive damage.
When a pink-skirted lady showed up with a grenade, I grabbed it from her hands and hurled the explosive device at the guy behind me. I hurled myself to the ground, covering my head with my hands to avoid the blast! With a red SHBROOM!!, my hated rival became my former rival.
Without a weapon, I faced off against ten simultaneous onscreen foes. Delivering swift punches, I dropped one to his knees. What is to be done with an unarmed enemy on his knees? The obvious answer: CLUBBING BLOWS TO THE HEAD!
After ten minutes, this game is on the A-list, for reasons that should be clear.
So it looks like this game offers a variety of stages, and I’m allowed to select. The opening stage has some cool scrolling purple clouds, but . . . it’s Space Invaders. Descending enemies. One player bullet on the screen at a time. Occasional UFOs (which drop powerups). Except, unlike Space Invaders, there aren’t any shields — unless you earn that powerup.
I fought several waves of enemies, which demonstrated at least a bit of variety: instead of descending, some of them swirled. And then I got to visit the next stage: CATTLE MUTILATION, in which I had to protect a bovine herd from cow-kidnapping flying saucers.
Majestic Twelve is definitely more interesting than Space Invaders, but I wasn’t impressed. Perhaps my next experience will be different if I select another stage? C-list.
The valiant writer Pickhut wrote about this game a couple weeks ago, so I figured I should give it the ten-minute test. The game’s a beat ‘em up, but it’s not a beat ‘em up like Runark. Your only attacks are: (1) standing cane swat, (2) jumping cane swat, and (3) random magic. There are tons of random magic effects, from dancing hippo men to superheroes who throw enemies into a microwave. Animals are trapped inside robotic bodies, digitized faces scale for no apparent reason, and who knows what else happens? I made it to level three (out of six) in ten minutes, so I’m sure I haven’t seen even half the insanity.
But you know what? The amount of WTF is so never-ending and so unreal that it all starts to wear thin. Something like Runark rules because it’s got just enough “reality” that the nonsense is actually funny. Pu*Li*Ru*La is just nonsense, and it’s not funny. Since it’s otherwise a pretty terrible beat ‘em up — I mean, there aren’t even any weapons to pick up — then humor was the only thing that could have saved it.
In 1997, Taito went back to the Arkanoid well, but this time they mixed the Breakout concept with a shot of moe and a dash of Puyo battle action. Instead of following Pong’s lead and directly pitting two players against one another, each competitor focuses on their half of the screen, bouncing a ball on their bar, busting jewels and scoring points. The game won’t end if your ball hits the ground — instead, more gems descend from the sky. If the gems reach the bottom of the playfield, then your anime opponent adopts a pose of cheer. If you keep busting the gems long enough, then your opponent eventually crumbles and adopts a pose of pain.
Puchi Carat can be cute, but it can also be creepy in that “aren’t these scantily-clad girls a bit young?” kind of way, as opposed to the irrepressibly genuine Puyo Puyo kind of cuteness. It’s also just not particularly fun — the relatively small playfield works against the whole blockbuster concept. The C-list fits.