Friday, July 23, 2010

Of Import: Wonder Momo

In this installment, we take a look at a fun and extremely cute Japanese arcade game that never reached the US -- it's the PC Engine version of Wonder Momo, released on HuCard in 1989 by Namco's home division, Namcot:

The game opens with Momo doing her best impression of the MGM Lion, kawaii as a button:

After that, the curtain goes up, and we find ourselves in a strange world where the school play features a young girl who materializes out of thin air, lands on the stage, then proceeds to beat up a variety of colorful enemies, presumably costumed members of the show choir and A/V club:

The audience goes wild below, and occasionally photographers pop through to snap photos in violation of theatre etiquette, as the flash briefly disorients and damages our heroine.  Momo has a very small repertoire of moves -- jumps, kicks, and a handy acrobatic double-kick:

Occasionally, between groups of levels, we are treated to a picture of Momo relaxing -- and apparently a gratuitous reveal of her personal measurements:

But these visual rewards are few and far between.  Like the arcade original, the home version of Wonder Momo is cute but not easy -- I made it to Act 6, using a number of continues, before finding myself overwhelmed by ever more resilient and powerful enemies.  Each level features one or two boss characters who must be defeated to end the level, but random enemies constantly emerge from the wings to interfere.  The ones that attack from the air are particularly hard to deal with, as Momo can only jump so high, and I found it difficult to time her attacks on elevated foes so as to deal damage rather than absorb it.

When we have defeated the primary enemies, the act ends and the curtain drops as the crowd cheers.  But as the difficulty increases, our spunky lead actress is occasionally reduced to tears as the curtain lowers on her embarrassing failure:

Wonder Momo is not a great game, but its simplicity is appealing, and I'd rather watch this onstage than Cats.

If you're so inclined, buy it at this affiliate link.

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