Thursday, March 1, 2012

Game of the Day - Fantastic Journey

Fantastic Journey is also known as Gokujyou Parodius.  It is the middle game in a trinity of horz shooters that honor the great Gradius.  The games in order are: Parodius Da!, Gokujyou Parodius and Sexy Parodius.  I like the middle one (known in America as Fantastic Journey) the best.  The word Parodius is an amalgam of Parody and Gradius.  It is a very obvious tribute.

The game plays very much like Gradius, down to the power-up system.  You collect power-ups that highlight different weapons on the bottom of the screen.  Each one moves the highlight along to the next power-up... when the one you want is lit up, you simply hit the proper button and that power-up is added.  There are many for each character and each has several orders of magnitude.

Speaking of characters, the game does very well here... There are many to choose from and they are widely (and wildly) different.  Their weapons are also very different, so which one you choose definitely affects gameplay.  There's a pig, an octopus, a ship, a weird blue guy, a chick riding a bullet and others.  The graphics and animations are all very cuted-up and very entertaining.  And the gameplay/enemy graphics are completely over the top.  If you chewed up a bunch of Starburst and Skittles and puked them up all over your MAME machine, you couldn't have a more colorful or crazy universe to play in.  I could try to begin to describe all the variety of carnival-type crud they throw at you, but wouldn't know where to begin.  Just remember to shade your eyes.

On top of choosing your character to start, you get to choose your control scheme.  You can use three buttons to shoot, fire missile and select weapon power-up or let the game do some of that for you.  With two buttons you shoot and fire missiles, but the game selects when and what to power-up. You can even play with one button, where each time you fire, you shoot your normal weapon AND your missile, and the game powers-up for you.Gameplay is equally compelling and outlandish - on top of killing things normally, there are other, stranger elements including balloons that get smaller each time you hit them, characters (including one of your own) that attack with words (the actual text) and many other unusual ways to kill the enemy. (Look at the pics! - the Mermaid isn't a HO, she's saying "Ho Ho Ho" and you have to avoid it  In another pic you are attacking with words (flying text) by telling the enemy they have garlic breath - crazy).  Also, in addition to the aforementioned power-up system, there are bells to collect that either give you bonuses or temporarily give you some sort to whacked-out power (like being gigantic) - this is separate from and outside the normal power-up weapon system.  What's cool is that the color of the bell determines the prize and you can keep shooting the bell to change the color of it until you collect it.

If you want to peek ahead, there's a great video of many (all?) of the bosses on Youtube here...

It's kooky fun that may not be everyone's cup of tea, but the gameplay is top-notch even if the graphics don't "trip your trigger".

Just don't blame me when your eyes hurt after playing.

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