September 12, 2011

[Game 004] Spooky Kitaro 2 (NES - 1987)

Translation by aishsha & Djinn

The first entry for a translated JRPG is based on the very long running manga GeGeGe no Kitaro about a cast of spirit monsters called yokai.  The main character, Kitaro, is a little yokai boy who is missing his left eye.  Which is alright because he's got an emo cut to keep his hair over (and presumably in) his gaping socket.  Whatever, as long as he's got some dope monster powers since he's having to take on the whole yokai army.

The adventure begins by having Kitaro on his little raft (pictured above) being accosted by some tentaclely (of course) spirit who delivers two lines of dialogue about saving everyone and BAM!  Ditched on a beach sans raft.

Raft mighta come in handy.

Exploring to the south a tad and Kitaro finds his house in the middle of some woods with two options to sleep or watch some TV.  The only show on was a password so it was nap time for Kitaro.  With no clue as where to go, Kitaro began to wander randomly.  Thankfully, most enterable places are shown in a grey tile and easy to spot.  Since Kitaro is still a tenderfoot, he only has one attack in battle.  Chambering his fists to his hips and dropping into a horse stance, Kitaro gathers his ki and screams out in rage and he rushes forward and delivers a devastating headbutt to the torso of the enemy.  Every time.  I would have thought that a small boy, running at you as fast as his little legs can carry him, with his head tucked down and maybe some tears evaporating into the rushing wind, would have difficulty hitting a target once, much less multiple times.  Crazy spirit world.

Come on, Kitaro, bring it.  BRING THE NOISE!

No surprise but the headbutts don't kill these yokai in a single blow.  With only eight Hit Points to his name, Kitaro can't stray too far from home.  A house to the west gave Kitaro his first quest to rescue a girl named Yumeko from a northern castle.

Thanks giant melted candle!

Here's where things get a little strange, gameplay-wise.  The overmap consists of many levels arranged like a topographical map with a few access ramps between each level (and usually not near each other).  This results in long pathways to be traversed compounded by the fact that many of these lead to dead ends.  This in itself is not innately bad but the encounter rate is extremely low (zero chance in certain areas) plus Kitaro has a 100% chance of fleeing combat, which is kinda dumb.  Guess all yokai are inherently lazy.  Anyway, this results in a lot of walking around with nothing happening and no progress being made.

A lot of RPGs will keep a character within a certain area through the use of terrain (mountains, rivers, etc.) but this is the first time I've ever encountered an invisible force field that does that.  It only becomes visible when Kitaro bumps up against it and is visually extremely annoying.  It flashes between the normal overmap and a solid black screen with dots showing where the field is (and fields can easily take up most of the screen).  I think the NES can handle more than two layers so this may be a case of sloppy programming.  I've tried to recreate the effect below but it should be about 10X faster than this.

Do I need to add a seizure warning?

So this isn't a big deal.  It stops as soon as Kitaro stops touching the field.  It's just another dead end in a long line of dead ends.  Spotting a cave close to his house, Kitaro prepares for the underworld.  The cave is a short one, with two exits at either end with the entrance in the middle.  Exiting the cave brings Kitaro back to the overmap with one important difference.  Now he is inside of one of the fields.  Which means the flashing is going on constantly.  Nuts to that.  Kitaro heads back the way he came and tries that northern castle he heard about.  Since he can flee from every fight, Kitaro reaches the castle boss at max power.  He puts up a good fight but just can't contend with Kitaro's new attack he received at level two (shooting hair or maybe spikes from his head).

He never bothered to get out
of his chair the entire fight.

After defeating this thing, Kitaro proceeds to wander about aimlessly, looking for the elusive grey huts, temples and castles.  A few places give items but none give a clue as what to do next.  He'll just to have to explore everywhere.  A house near the coastline has a saucy gal named Neko who joins Kitaro.  He is quite excited as he thought he'd have to take on everyone by himself.  After Neko joins however, she doesn't appear during fights and there is no reference to her on any info screen.  Alone again, Kitaro continues searching random places.

Just send my wages to my
forwarding address. Kthxbye!

The only other place of note was another castle which had more floors and paths to take than the first one.  Which, of course, doesn't matter because of the automatic fleeing.  The end boss at this battle though comes back from the dead unless his soul is trapped in a statue which Kitaro happened to have (it was the only special item he had).  Winning this fight nets Kitaro the Pass, which surely will be used to open up new areas to explore.  Now if he just had any clue whatsoever as to where to use it.

How do you like being headbutted, Kitaro?