Friday, July 22, 2011

Clueless Gaijin Gaming: Vanilla Syndrome

Okay, it's time to clear another one of these off the shelf by writing about it so I don't necessarily ever have to play it again.  Nichibutsu's Vanilla Syndrome is yet another racy mahjong title for the Japanese PC Engine Super CD-ROM platform -- it started life as an arcade game, and brought its busty bunny girls to the home platform in 1991.  Nichibutsu (aka Nihon Bussan Co.) was best known in the USA as a purveyor of classic arcade games like Crazy Climber and Moon Shuttle -- but in Japan, it made a lot of its money from these kinds of titles.

The production values are high -- the opening cartoon shows a young man, magically warped into a field of flowers, with smooth animation and good voice acting.  Then we get to this shot, which stays onscreen for a very long time with only a bit of lip-synch to break up the static picture, and is apparently meant to convey the game's primary intent:

After we start the game and sign in (in my non-Japanese-speaking case, with a random assortment of characters), we are at least given some justification for the young ladies' wardrobe, as this elderly, James Randi-esque bunny sets out our mission:

We are given the opportunity to purchase a few advantages before the match starts, while our hostess' wardrobe does its best to contain her, erm, enthusiasm:

Then the match is underway -- apparently we are playing for carrots, in keeping with the lagomorphic themes.  This is standard mahjong with standard tiles, standard rules, all the same as we've seen in countless other PC Engine games:

If we are no good at mahjong, we can still see the victory sequences and the end credits via an option hidden on the main menu -- if we select the main mode of the game, hold the D-pad left, and hit button II, we are given all the dialogue and imagery as our hero meets and defeats each of the available opponents -- this one reminds me of 80s doll/cartoon star Jem, for some reason, though she seems to be more genuinely truly outrageous:

There are also tournament and one-on-one modes, where we can pick a specific opponent rather than playing through the storyline.

And so it goes; nice production values, and I am pleased to report that in the final analysis, Vanilla Syndrome is cutesy, not really ecchi and certainly not hentai.  But it's still just another game of mahjong.  My PC Engine import collection overfloweth with these, for no real reason beyond the fact that they're generally inexpensive.  Don't follow my example!

You really don't want this game, but it might be up for sale here.

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