Friday, November 27, 2009

Clueless Gaijin Gaming: Chibi Maruko-Chan Quiz de Pihyara

Time once again for this ignorant Westerner to venture deep into the kana -- it's Chibi Maruko-Chan - Quiz de Pihyara!

This game was published by Namcot, a label used for home releases by arcade giant Namco (Pac-Man, Tekken) in the early 1990's.  The character is based on an autobiographical manga series by Momoko Sakura about a precociously perceptive little girl, and this PC Engine game was released under license based on the television anime adaptation.

In the story, as far as I can make out, cute robots are invading and have begun their rein of comical terror by kidnapping Maruko's friend Tama-chan:

The game is aimed at younger players -- that is, younger players who can read Japanese.  For my part, I found the basic action straightforward and entertaining as I helped little Maruko fend off attacking cats, birds, and robots by beating them with her explorer's helmet:

Where I ran into difficulty was with the quiz questions and possible answers displayed at the top of the screen -- Maruko-chan has no life bar per se, though running into enemies does slow her down.  And there isn't a lot of landscape to cover.  The only way to proceed to the next level is by answering a series of quiz questions correctly, without getting more than 3 wrong during the stage.  Maruko answers the questions by defeating enemies, who drop tokens labeled A, B, C, or D; the tokens bounce discreetly out of each other's way, so it's not too hard to grab the correct one.

Picking up the correct token to answer the question scores a point and moves to the next question.  Selecting the wrong token costs a chance and presents a new question.  Of course, knowing which token to pick up requires knowing the right answer, which further presumes an ability to read the question, both woefully out of my reach.

I plugged away at it for a while, but making random guesses at four-to-one odds didn't help me make any progress, and the questions are randomized, so I wasn't able to find any patterns by trial and error.  I don't think our protagonist was too happy with my performance:

Sorry, Maruko-chan!

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