Friday, August 26, 2011

Of Import: CD Battle - Hikari no Yushatachi (1993)

Remember all the great times you had playing Barcode Battler, tracking down obscure brands in grocery stores to scan the UPC codes, power up your warriors and beat your friends' pathetic fighters into submission?

You don't?

Well, that's probably because that particular flavor of electronic entertainment never really took off in the US.  Which would certainly explain why CD Battle: Hikari no Yushatachi (in English, Heroes of Light) never reached our shores either.  Published in 1993 by King Records for the Japanese PC Engine, it's a similar concept that takes advantage of the console's CD-ROM drive, by reading some data from the player's music CDs and using it to create pseudo-random RPG characters.  Two players (or one very bored one) can pit their CD collections against each other in a traditional role-playing game battle of swords and sorcery, to see whose musical tastes will carry the day.

Technically, this is kind of interesting, because the design means the entire game has to be loaded into memory, relying exclusively on the system's sound chip for background music, in order to free up the CD drive for reading music discs.  Gameplay-wise, this is extremely limiting, because the program can really only handle a couple of screens -- a "team loading" screen, and a few types of battle arena.  There isn't much graphical variation among the warriors because there just isn't sufficient memory available to do more.  And we don't even get to hear any bits of music from the CDs we are sending into battle -- they might as well be packages of ramen, really.

Anyway, these were the results of my two hastily-organized battles, drawn from my not-recently-updated physical CD collection.  I wouldn't say I was extremely bored when I did this, but I did not hold out high hopes for the entertainment value on hand.

I started with Journey's Greatest Hits vs. Laurie Anderson's Strange Angels:

Note that two of my warriors on Journey's side are identical -- an almost certain guarantee of failure in any self-respecting RPG.  And yes, the battle develops accordingly:

Despite Journey's considerably greater experience in the videogame arena, Laurie Anderson's sardonic poetry and performance-art musical style takes the field handily, wiping out all three of the opposing warriors with two of her own surviving.

Next, I rummage around and came up with the little-known Too Much Joy's Son of Sam I Am vs. Stephen Sondheim's unsuccessful Broadway musical Merrily We Roll Along:

At least there's a little visual variety here.  But the battle soon establishes that these teams are even more imbalanced than my first attempt:

Nary a scratch on the esteemed Mr. Sondheim, while the younger, hipper, almost as lyrically witty members of Too Much Joy are left dead on the pavement after just a few rounds of spell-casting and sword-whacking.

So that's about all there is to CD Battle: Hikari no Yushatachi.  There are additional arenas, according to the manual, which implies some sort of progression system.  But a couple of rounds turned out to be as much entertainment I was able to stand.

It's fun! ...

... in  a way.

But only very, very briefly.

The novelty wears off almost immediately, but if you must have product data-driven battle games in your collection, you might be able to find a copy of CD Battle: Hikari no Yushatachi here.

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