Story & World
The world in Spooky Kitaro is chock full of Japanese folklore, from Aka-Oni to Zunbera. Every creature (at least the ones I looked up) seems to be from various old Japanese folktales. I'm sure I would have been able to visualize and enjoy it more if I knew the stories behind these creatures so I'm not going to hold that against it. The whole main map is shaped like Japan which is nice attention to detail (and one I didn't realize until I started flying around). Getting around the world was a mess with long and convoluted paths. For a good chunk of it, I never really knew where I suppose to go next. It amounted to a lot of trekking back and forth across said paths.
The NPC dialogues were mostly the one liner type but at
least they were helpful. Or, I should say, they tried to be helpful.
There was mentioning of places and boss names but I was so disoriented
for most of it that I had no idea what tower or castle I was in.
Thankfully, some of the NPCs were astute enough to mention compass
directions in their kind words. A few instances when I thought I was
approaching a boss monster, it turned out to be a helpful friend who you
never see again. Most NPC interactions were one stop affairs. A few
demanded an item to be delivered before giving Kitaro an item in return
but then they were also forgotten. I can see why Kitaro just let them
all sink in the end with no remorse.
The main quest was hazy right from the get go and
actual got muddier somehow as the game progressed. I had no idea why I
was I killing the monsters I was or fetching the items I gained. 5/20
The single character of Kitaro gains abilities as he progresses through all ten of his available levels. They are all attack related with the ones having higher Spell Point costs doing more damage (a healing ability was the one exception). Very basic stat structure consisting of Attack, Defense, Hit Points and Spell Points. Kitaro maxed his level out about three quarters of the way through leaving little reason to fight anything outside trying to gain items.
Kitaro found a few weapons in his journey that offered
a weaker attack than his "spell" abilities. Once a new weapon is
found, there is no reason to ever use a weaker version again. This
system is what Kitaro's basic attack should have been instead of a
system that uses precious Spell Points to deal basic damage. Usable
items ranged from healing to mobility to light sources. All were fairly
useful, especially the Crow Bait which allowed unrestricted movement
across the map. 3/20
Combat & Monsters
Kitaro's main attacks were spells in the sense that they used up Spell Points but other than one healing spell, they all did a normal damage based on how expensive in SP it was. They could have just drained an endurance meter or something. Combat was very limited with one vs. one at all times. When Kitaro called forth a crew member, they essentially replaced Kitaro for a single turn, taking a possible hit in return. Since they just did a normal damage attack it was fairly pointless since Kitaro would normally do more damage. One feature in all encounters was an option to speak to the creature. If friendly, the fight would be avoided. If hostile, Kitaro would take a kick to the groin. An inconsequential addition but I'm trying hard to find something nice to say (for some reason).
The enemies had the same rich diversity as the rest of
the game world. Some were so unique I had a hard time even making out
what they were suppose to be (poor graphics are also partly to blame).
They all acted the same however with a single attack for each creature,
including bosses. The dodging of Kitaro attacks got a little silly at
times with some able to dodge around five times in succession. Couple
that with groups of three enemies (fought one at a time) and Kitaro
could easily be brought down from full power to nearly drawing his last
breath. Even at the maximum level 10, Kitaro would sometimes have
troubles with a random encounter even against monsters he was battling
at level 5. The random encounters near the end of the game were just
too tough for him to handle more than one (thank goodness for the always
successful run away). 2/20
Graphics & Sound
Subpar graphics made a lot of creatures that would be hard to identify in the first place even more difficult. The overland map looked very much tiled; it did not have a seamless look. Music was very bland and the few sound effects were muted and dull. 2/20
This is a chore RPG. There were a few amusing scenes with NPC and bosses (fighting a giant nose is always fun) but generally no fun was being had during the process. The time log shows many sessions that lasted only 15-30 minutes before exasperation set in. Battle difficulty was fair in the beginning and increased in toughness along with Kitaro but then just kept going. Kitaro maxed out at level 10 at around mid game and the enemies kept getting harder. Kitaro had such massive legs at that point that running was always the best bet anyhow. Wish I could have run away. 1/20
Final Ranking: 13/100