Friday, May 20, 2011

Clueless Gaijin Gaming: Jantei Monogatari 2: Syutsu Dou Hen (1991)

This week's import game selection is another PC Engine CD-ROM title... Jantei Monogatari 2: Syutsu Dou Hen, published by Atlus in 1991.  There were actually two Jantei Monogatari 2 games published with similar subtitles, Syutsu Dou Hen and Kan Ketsu Hen; both are sequels to the original Jantei Monogotari.

And, at least for a clueless, non-Japanese-speaking Westerner like me, this is a sneaky one.  It's not clear what sort of game we're in for until it's too late.

The game opens with a dramatic animated sequence, introducing our heroes, a blue-haired young man and a red-haired young woman:

 And some villains, heavy on the breastplates:

Then we have to fight through a digital comic-style set of menu choices, occasionally interrupted by a numeric guessing game I never succeeded at, much to the delight of its cute hostess:

Finally, after much trial and error, we manage to run to the aid of some children who appear to have been accosted by some kind of ice cream-defiling enemy:

And at last, we get our Sailor Moon on, and join the battle against our first villainess's henchwomen:

Dice are rolled by a couple of cute little assistants:

And then... and then it becomes apparent that we're once again playing mahjong:

At least we are allowed to buy "cheats" between rounds, earning points for playing, even when we lose:

We even get to keep our accumulated points when we lose and continue:

But ultimately, we live and die by the tiles.  Mahjong fans will enjoy yet another new setting in which to play; mahjong non-fans will tire of the gameplay before the story has time to get off the ground.
Jantei Monogatari 2: Syutsu Dou Hen has much to recommend it in the way of production values; even using the PC Engine's limited original CD-ROM 1.0 System Card, the anime cutscenes are nicely animated with a sense of looseness and liveliness.  Aside from a CD Audio opening theme with vocals, the game uses chiptune music almost exclusively, the better to free up the CD buffer for spooling animation into memory.

But in the end, it's just more mahjong with teasing cartoon deshabille.  The PC Engine has a lot of these games, and while Atlus certainly brings the right kind of production values to bear, the gameplay is pretty much the same as always.

At least these aren't expensive to collect, if you really want them.  You may be able to find a copy here.