Review by jonscan
Pooyan ('little pigs' in Japanese) is an arcade game by Stern, originally released into amusement centres back in 1982 as an alternating 2 player unit. It appears here as part of a retro collection of Japanese only PS2 releases by developer Hamster, under the moniker 'Oretachi Game Centre' (other releases in this series include Scramble, Burger Time and Crazy Climber). Each set includes the following 7 items; the game CD, a mini music CD, a mini DVD of extras, a Collectors card, a Marquee move and story card, a mini strategy guide (all in Japanese) and finally the game manual. The original Japan retail
price for any set in the series was 2000 yen.
Story: A family of pigs have been captured by a large pack of wolves. The mama pig, who was not attacked or captured, attempts to get back her tiny charges. Armed with only a bow and arrows (and the occasional appearance of chunks of rolled meat), she boards an elevator/cage that moves up and down on a rope. The wolves meanwhile, are using balloons to float down from a tree while throwing rocks at Mama Pig. Mrs. Pig tries to shoot their balloons with her arrows, or with the rolled meat, so the balloons will burst and the wolves will fall to their deaths. When she misses, the wolves will safely reach the ground, they will capture more piglets, and they will climb a ladder to try to bite her. So Mrs.Pig must try to kill as many wolves as possible without letting them reach the ground to win her family back.
Gameplay: The idea is to move up and down in your elevator/cage (pulled by more of her tiny piglet family - very cute), shooting the balloons with the wolves attached, as they pass by, scoring points on each balloon you bust, and also on each wolf as it splats on the canyon floor below, all the while avoiding the wolves' rocks being thrown at you. There are bonus rounds included that involve shooting tiny strawberries, for example, for extra points. Controls couldn't be simpler then: its simply up, down and shoot. No bonus item or 'grenade' buttons to worry about, so you can worry instead about honing your shooting skills while dodging the wolves missiles! Really simple gameplay, but as always, the inevitable challenge built in to these seemingly simple mechanics, keeps you coming time and again. As your frustration at the menacing (and seemingly never-ending supply of wolves) grows, so does your need to finish up to 'just' the next level always increase. Gameplay is just as you remember the original in the arcade.
Visuals: Garish pinks, blues and greens. Gahkkk! My eyes! Actually, the character animations in Pooyan are very cute (simple, but cute) and very authentic. From the piglets (who look suspiciously like the Hello Kitty! character, not pigs), to the wolves hanging on desperately to their ever deflating balloons, there is something very naiive and attractive about the whole game look, just as it was in 1982. Attractive enough in fact that Pooyan
has a decent female following, something we can't seem to get enough of these days in the era of bigger and badder gunplay and violence turning new women players away from this industry. My girlfriend, for example, loves this game for its simplicity, challenge and the memories of her G-rated childhood. I'm sure others can and will relate to that.
Audio: Apart from the annoyingly catchy but inane title music, the audio is simple and of it's time. Balloons burst satisfyingly, bleeps and chirps are emitted for wolves dying and bonus point scores, just as they were for the original coin-op. Everything fits as it should. What I should make special mention of here is the modern VJ Remix of the title music that is included on the mini DVD, which comes with each set. Don't know who its by (my Japanese
is too rusty) but its actually 4 minutes of fairly passable modern techno and I can see a dancefloor in Tokyo probably getting into this, with the right mixing done around it. For game music from 1982 that was made on ancient synths and fitted into a lowly 64K RAM space, I guess that's really saying something! The visuals around it are also passable and could easily be projected onto a screen at a modern club with pleasing results (and no-one
laughing at you).
Replayability: A lot. This game, unless you are an Arcade Master, is pretty tough. Making it past every level without being threatened by the wolves nipping at your feet, is quite a challenge. I should point out that on the mini-DVD that you'll find in the game set, there is a video of a Master at this game, completing all the first 4 levels, and scoring over 100,000 points, with barely a wolf getting by (he/she stuffs up only on the last bonus level). Useful for all of us looking to become any good at this game over time and a nice extra to include. The added replayability comes from challenging a friend in the alternating 2 Player mode. Plenty of fun to be had there.
Summary: Unless you're over the age of 20, you'll probably hate this game for its lack of, well, everything that you have come to expect and know with modern games. Five minutes with it is probably all you would be able to take. But if you were born in the early 80's or before, and you liked Scramble, Moon Cresta and others of this ilk, there is a good chance you (like me) will get into the simplicity and fun of Pooyan today on your PS2, just as you did
in the arcades all those years ago.
Give it a shot, no matter what your age.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 01/12/09
Game Release: Oretachi Game Center Zoku: Pooyan (JP, 05/25/06)
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