Review by falsehead

"From the land where anything is possible comes new gaming opportunity"

Being an Uncle in Japan is obviously a tough thing. This compilation of 90 mini-games that makes up the truly marvellous Bishi Bashi Special is actually two games in one. The older Super Bishi Bashi and the newer Hyper Bishi Bashi. In both sets of games there is one involving the tormenting of Uncles.

Uncle Launcher presents you with a large statue of a man holding two plates. Your task is to fire Uncles out of a cannon (by pressing X) and try and land them on the plate on your side of the screen. To make matters harder, the statue moves about and you can be challenged by another Uncle firing player at the same time. If you get 16 or more Uncles on your plate, you win! So far, so bizarre. Now add the fact that all the ''Uncles'' are musclemen and dressed in skimpy bikini's, who dance mad little jigs on the plate as they wait for more to join them and you've just about encapsulated the oddness of Bishi Bashi in one paragraph.

Explore whats on offer in Hyper Bishi Bashi and you will find the game ''Uncle Bean''. For this your poor Uncle must jump and position his face to catch the coloured beans that fly up in front of his face (d-pad left, right, up). As your Uncle here is compiled from a cartoon body with a photographed head of a bespectacled, bearded man stuck on top it all seems perfectly logical. I mean why shouldn't Uncle want beans? He's spent all day being fired out of a cannon, now he's hungry… Um..

Anyway, Bishi Bashi Special is a party game. It offers plenty of short, sharp games to play that require minimal controls, but demand enough of your reflexes and brainpower to make them worth playing through. The bright, chunky cartoon characters and graphics are complimented by the loud japlish shouting of things like ''You LOSE!'' or ''You the Winner!!''. Throw in comedy buzzers, squeaking, honking and exploding. Add a dash of HUGE game titles in flashing letters and easy to follow tutorials before every game you may want to try and you have the perfect recipe for a late night party game with a group of mates.

Although only two players can play at the same time, the various tournament modes allow players to alternate through a series of games, getting knocked out until only two remain for a final showdown. The great simplicity of the game means that even your most gamephobic mates will feel confident enough to have a go. It actually looks, sounds and feels very much like an interactive TV show on in Britain. In this show you can use your digital remote control to bet on the outcome of daft challenges, like how many balloons will it take to float a chicken off the ground or which Michael Jackson impersonator can moonwalk the fastest across an Ice rink. This is all presented in the same style as Bishi Bashi with cartoon explanations, lots of shouting from over-excited Japanese commentators, plenty of psychedelic logos, fast cuts and comedy noises. It almost feels like the the creators of this TV show (called ''Banzai''), had indulged in some serious Bishi Bashi Special sessions before pitching the idea to the TV execs and Channel 4.

The definite pick of the games can be found in the Hyper Bishi Bashi game. This has more overall character as you are often represented by two scary characters, a scowling boy in a tracksuit and a scowling girl in a frilly dress. The game names are ridiculous with ''Hyper Pie Throw'' and ''Perm Mania'' being two big favourites.

In Hyper Pie, you are a Bride at a wedding. You must quickly bash the circle and square buttons to make her run towards the congregations. Then you must stop her as close to the edge as you can go with out falling off (you fail). Press and hold X to raise the Custard Pie as high as you want, the let it fly! It will sail over the congregation before hitting someone in the face. The further the pie goes, the better. Once it hits, the rest of the congregation get up and applaud you! The next player then tries to beat your distance.

Perm Mania is a little rhythm action game. You must press the X button in time to a sequence. Get it right and your Afro will expand. The biggest Afro at the end wins. Get it right on every sequence and your Afro will fill the whole screen! The other games revolve around bizarre versions of old classics like Space Invaders (but with Squid), Pong (but with faces instead of bats and fish, meat, and frogs instead of a ball). There are memory games, reaction games (type a safe code in as fast as you can without getting blown up). Even mini racing games, such as one where you race a tiny mouse around a plated trying to gobble up as much cheese as possible.

Disturbingly a scary teddy bear wearing a hockey mask and carry a whip often pops up in the games as well. He unnerves me. Just what is that bear hiding eh?

Well it's impossible to describe all the games that make up this marvellous package. Suffice to say that your bound to find at least one or two that will have you playing over and over again. As well as the fun of a Bishi Bashi Tournament with your friends. It's the best party game ever, fun, easy, accessible and wonderfully surreal in places. Just don't play it on your own, its longevity drops to about one hour in single player. But with four or more people and the right attitude its hours of fun, and due to its kitsch looks and simplicity will probably remain a party favourite for many more years to come. Buy it! Those Uncles need to be taught a lesson!


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 03/18/02, Updated 03/18/02


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