Friday, October 28, 2011

Of Import: Makai Prince Dorabbochan

This Halloween week, we're playing Makai Prince Dorabbochan, one of the many cute, competent platformers that graced NEC's popular PC Engine console in Japan.  It was published by Naxat Soft on the HuCard format in 1990, and never came to the US, though the SNES sequel arrived here as The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang, thereby foreshadowing Joss Whedon by a decade or so in the naming department.  The hero (a.k.a. Kid Dracula) is a very young vampire, who is occasionally assisted by Moai-headed butlers:

The 8-bit and 16-bit era were the domain of the side-scrolling platform adventure -- from Super Mario Brothers on, gamers were frequently called upon to jump, attack and explore a multitude of themed worlds.  Of course, the comical enemies here are a little more horrific than the norm -- for example, this bug-eyed, worm-brained little mummy:

Our little vampire can pick up armor power-ups that provide a broader attack range and additional, temporary shielding, like this red suit:

And there are oversized, comical bosses to deal with -- they're not too hard to defeat, but considering this is all crammed onto a cartridge, the detailed animation is impressive.

There's some challenging action afoot -- I got this far fairly easily, midway through the third level, before the difficulty curve set in:

Of course, all good things must come to an end, and after running out of energy and lives, the Prince is consigned to a cheap wooden coffin:

There really isn't a lot to be said about Makai Prince Dorabbochan.  It's a simple, cute, perfectly competent platformer, with solid controls and reasonably challenging action, and the creepy, colorful graphics look very nice.  And it's a lot of fun for a while, but there are better such games available, and it falls a little short of true classic status.  I enjoyed my time with it, but if it weren't for the horror theme, I'm not sure I would have ever given it a second look.

This one's not too expensive, and may be found for sale here or here:

Makai Prince Dorabocchan PC-Engine Hu

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