This is the first game in the Lufia series – developed by Neverland and published by Taito in 1993 for the Super Nintendo.
Lufia and the Fortress of Doom is a cute and colourful Japanese Role-Playing game with Zelda-style presentation and turn-based combat.
It may look benign, but Lufia and the Fortress of Doom is a pretty hardcore level-grinder under the hood. That’s been a hallmark of the Lufia series as a whole – they look like kid’s games but are much, much more than throwaway adventures.
I’m a fan of the Lufia games – they’re all detailed and beautifully-made and contain all the ingredients a good dungeon-crawler needs. I’m also very fond of the presentation of this game – particularly the speech bubbles and fonts, which are clean, nicely-balanced, and easy to read.
Graphically, it’s not the best SNES RPG out there (that honour goes to Seiken Densetsu 3!), but it is beautifully-drawn and coloured, and all the monsters are well presented in combat. Boss battles are memorable too. In fact: the game starts with one!
While I do prefer the sequel to this first Lufia game, I do think that Lufia and the Fortress of Doom shouldn’t be ignored. It’s still one of the Super Nintendo‘s great RPGs.
Also known as Mr. Do! Run Run or Super Pierrot in Japan, Do! Run Run is the fourth and final game in the famous Mr. Do series. It was developed by Universal and published by Taito in 1984.
Of the three Mr. Do! sequels this game is probably the closest to the original in terms of gameplay. The aim of the game is to complete each screen by doing one of three things: either collect all the on-screen dots, or kill all the monsters, or find the rare hidden diamond.
Just like in the first game: Mr. Do has a weapon – a thrown weapon – called a Powerball. Once the Powerball’s been thrown it takes a little time to return. Mr. Do can also kick the wedges from underneath logs and let them roll over enemies to kill them.
When Mr. Do walks he leaves a line behind him. If he connects both ends of the line, any dots within it will turn into cherries, and – not only are these worth more points – but they also accelerate the recharge of the Powerball. Also, turning large areas from dots into cherries can also reveal a switch with a letter on it, and standing on it will activate three blue ghosts and an ‘Alphamonster’, just like in the first game. Defeating the Alphamonster will add a letter to the EXTRA meter at the top of the screen. And – like in all the other Mr. Do games – lighting up the word EXTRA will net you an extra life.
Do! Run Run is a playable and enjoyable finale to the Mr. Do series.
Taito‘s 1988 arcade release, The NewZealand Story, is a super-cute platform game featuring a kiwi called Tiki, who is on a rescue mission to save his friends who have been kidnapped by a Leopard Seal. Tiki can jump and shoot arrows from his bow (as kiwis do), as well as commandeer various different floating or flying vehicles to get around in.
The NewZealand Story was an instant hit with gamers and is still much loved today.
Gameplay revolves around exploration of big, scrolling levels, looking for the exit, and with a boss battle waiting at the end of each section. There are four main sections in total, each with four fairly sizeable levels.
The graphics are beautifully drawn, crisp, and colourful – everything you’d come to expect from Taito (who are masters of ‘cute’ and colourful).
Gameplay is actually quite tough; The NewZealand Story is much more challenging than it might appear on the surface. It’s definitely not a kid’s game. You have to know how to ‘float’ and how to effectively shoot your arrows to really get anywhere. Not to mention evade everything coming at you.
The NewZealand Story is popular enough to have been converted to quite a few consoles and home systems. Ocean Software made a bunch in 1989/90. I’ll be looking at a few of those in due course.
Graftgold‘s Amiga conversion of the legendary Rainbow Islands is pretty much flawless… Well, if you discount the three secret hidden worlds the developers had to ditch when they discovered them… And the lower resolution, compared to the arcade original.
Rainbow Islands is brilliant rainbow-chucking fun, whatever gaming system you play it on. This is arguably one of the best Amiga games around too.
The Amiga version was published by Ocean Software in 1990.
Taito released Parasol Stars for the PC Engine in 1991.
It is the third game in the Bubble Bobble series and features Bubby and Bobby – the two human characters from Rainbow Islands – both armed with a multi-purpose parasol and the ability to chuck water around with them.
Each stage takes place on a single screen of platforms (sometimes slightly bigger than the play area, so the screen scrolls) and the aim is: to kill off all the monsters by throwing things at them. You can collect water drops on your parasol and throw those, or collect them into one large droplet and throw that – resulting in a water torrent cascading down the screen (as in Bubble Bobble). Later on you can also pick up special electricity or fire droplets to zap or burn your opponents. Oh, and you can stun your enemies by hitting them with your parasol, which then allows you to pick them up and throw them. Parasol Stars features a lot of throwing, but it is great fun chucking your opponents around.
There are eight themed worlds to play in Parasol Stars – each with seven stages and a boss fight – plus two secret hidden worlds that must be unlocked by collecting Star Items and opening a door in the final world.
Parasol Stars was a PC Engine exclusive – it never appeared in arcades – and is arguably one of the best games released for the system. Ocean Software released a series of conversions in 1992 although none are as good as this original PC Engine version.