Hardoffing: Four For Famicom

28 12 2011

I got lucky!  Now get your mind out of the gutter and follow with me here… there’s a line of “Off” stores in Japan that I like to troll.  There’s Hard Off, Book Off, Off House, Hobby Off and more; but I usually just stick to those four.  I go there because they have retro games and systems that can usually be had for a fair price, if not a steal.  Here’s a good example of that:

Red robots! Pink cavemen! Orange aliens! And black boxers! I won't let you steal my Fami-carts!

I paid a total of 420円 for those four games.  In dollars, that’s about $5.40, or $1.35 a cartridge.  For those of you who can’t read Japanese or are not in the know, the games are Mega Man 2, Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!, Urusei Yatsura: Lum’s Wedding Bells, and Adventure Island: Bug te Honey.  Two of the games I’m not really going to get into.  Most people who play games know about the Mega Man series; same goes for Punch Out!  The one thing that did surprise me, though, was that the Japanese version of Punch Out! is entirely in English… it’s a straight port of the American version of the game (the US version of Mike Tyson’s Punch Out! came first.  The game was released in Japan before the US version; but it didn’t have Tyson attached to it, instead featuring a generic boxer named Mr. Dream as the end boss).


It's called "foreshadowing."

This is Adventure Island: Bug te Honey.  It’s based off of an anime that in turn is based off of the game series Adventure Island.  The series was quite popular in the 1980’s and 90’s and made appearances on the MSX, Famicom (NES), and Super Famicom (Super Nintendo) Systems, as well as being remade for the Playstation 2 and GameCube.  Bug te Honey is a spin-off of sorts, but being that it was made by Hudson Soft, quality is assured… maybe.

Bug te Honey is one of those genre-crossing games.  It’s a platformer crossed with a shooter crossed with Arkanoid.  In some levels you play as a fairy that flies around shooting enemies and buildings hoping to get power-ups and find glowing balls that will take you to the Arkanoid block-breaking sub-levels.  In the sub-levels you control a platform that bounces a ball off objects, breaking blocks which reveal power-ups specific to that level and sometimes causing a letter to drop.  Collect all the letters to spell a certain password, and you can advance to the next stage.  This process repeats until you’ve successfully spelled out the password and uncovered the secret portal to world two.  Wow.

There’s only one problem:  the game doesn’t tell you what the password is, and if you collect a letter that’s not in the password, you die.  Confused?  Watch the video:

I can’t help but think an instruction manual would have helped out with this one.  I can only hope that within it’s pages are the passwords to the levels so that the game doesn’t become a random hit-or-miss spelling adventure.  Without knowing the letters that are in the password, the game gets frustrating, fast.  But it’s also one of those games that is so insane, it passes right through bad and becomes awesome.

If you know the password, please tell me. I'm ready to get stuck on level 2 now.



Urusei Yatsura: Lum’s Wedding Bells goes right through bad to awesome and then completes an entire revolution back to bad.  And then stays there.  It won’t move.  Based on the popular anime and manga Urusei Yatsura by Rumiko Takahashi, Wedding Bells has the distinction of being the only Urusei Yatsura game where you actually do anything.  The other four UY games are all digital comics or graphic adventures.    Here, you control Lum as she platforms her way from pre-school to wedded bliss; and she deserves bliss after surviving this steaming pile of a game.  Really, it’s not that bad… OK it is.  It’s hard for me to be completely objective because I’m such a fan of the series.  I recognize the characters from the game and enjoy the chip tune versions of the songs from the anime, but the gameplay… my GOD the gameplay…

Lum's lost in a sea of mediocrity.


The game starts you out in a school.  You have to jump over holes in the floor, avoid strange flying goldfish and falling octopi, eventually working your way to the roof to be whisk off by a UFO.  After completing a level, Lum grows up a little and you repeat the process.  The controls are iffy, the collision detection is out of whack, and for some reason every school Lum goes to seems to catch fire after a short time.  It’s the game’s way of saying “hurry up!” but it’s still bizarre.  What gets me is the huge, gaping hole centered in the root of the character based gameplay:  In the comic and anime, Lum can fly- that’s what she does.  In the game, she can’t.  It’s like that Superman game for the Genesis… the one where Supes walks around everywhere because the programmers seem to have forgotten that Superman can fly.  It makes no sense.  Every time I fell to my death in the game (which was quite often), I said to myself “But she can fly…” It’s quite hilarious; take a look.


I already knew about the reputations of these games before I bought them, so nothing came as a total shock.  I really can’t complain- they’re so cheap!  That’s one of the great things about going Offhousing, you never know what you’re going to find and what a great deal it’s going to be.  Or not.



One response

6 01 2012
Hardoffing: Urawa, Japan « HCKblog

[…] One of the great things about Japan is that old games come cheap… well, usually.  One of the best places to get used games, from current generation systems to the classics is called Hard Off.  I talked a little bit about them in my post here. […]

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