Review by Wyrdwad

"A poor man's Vib Ribbon. Or maybe a RICH man's Vib Ribbon. Whatever. It's still largely the same as Vib Ribbon."

Can't get enough of the PSX game ''Vib Ribbon''? Well, now you can basically play it EVERYWHERE YOU GO, assuming you own a WonderSwan Color or SwanCrystal. This odd little game was made by Nana-on-Sha, so the fact that it basically plays EXACTLY the same as Vib Ribbon shouldn't be all too surprising.

Never heard of Vib Ribbon? OK, then, I'll explain how this Kerorican game works. It's really quite simple. You're a dancing frog. You have to get from one end of a long level to the other. Along the way, various odd creatures and... things... pop out at you, and each one requires a different button press (or set of button presses) to get past it. Successfully bypassing a creature triggers a musical note that corresponds with the creature involved, and successful chains of creature-conquering result in funky little melodies that are at least mildly reminiscent of Toejam & Earl.

The creatures consist of the following:
* A ball-slime who pops out of a little hole. Press A to kick it away.
* A set of three tiny little multi-colored slimes, who stack themselves into a pyramid. Press any of the four Y buttons to leap over them.
* A cannonball with quickly rotating arms. Press any of the four X buttons to swing over it.
* A thingy riding on a spinny. I'm sorry, but there's no other way to describe this. Press Y and A simultaneously to do a really dramatic flip-spin out of harm's way.
* A big rocket-missle thing that appears out of nowhere. If you notice it in time, immediately press X and A simultaneously to grab it and ride it like a bull for a moment.
* An exploding bottle. Press X and Y simultaneously to get all smokey and twirly, thus somehow avoiding your explosive fate.

As you can tell by these descriptions, the button presses don't exactly make all too much sense. Unlike Vib Ribbon, you are expected to merely memorize associations between creatures and button combos. Aside from what you've already learned by playing -- or by reading something like this -- there are no visual clues whatsoever as to what buttons you need to hit for each creature.

However, also unlike Vib Ribbon, this game actually has GOOD, DETAILED, COLORFUL graphics. Especially for the WonderSwan Color! Kerorican's movements are fluidly and flawlessly animated, and the cool (albeit wholly unnecessary) ''story sequences'' before levels come complete with psychedelic backgrounds and expressive facial portraits.

The sound, too, seems to push the WSC to its limits. Quite literally, actually. Some of the sounds in this game are so good that the WSC's tiny little internal speaker can't quite seem to handle them, and turns them into a big fuzzy mess. The idea still comes across loud and clear, but you'll definitely be longing to play this on a better sound system.

The game's biggest flaw? The timing. Vib Ribbon was somewhat forgiving with timing. Kerorican is not. If you're off by a MICROSECOND... you missed. Well, maybe that's a LITTLE bit of an exaggeration... but not much.

By all rights, such ridiculously picky timing should ruin the game. But it doesn't. Actually, it's not even ALL THAT FRUSTRATING, for some reason. It should be... but it isn't! I think it's because the game is so addicting, and gives you lots of allowed misses before collapsing you and giving you a good ol' ''game over'' screen. And there are bonus items. There are flying thingies you can collect to restore a little bit of your ''life'', and crowns that appear when you do really well, which allow you to fly around a bit, skipping one entire section of creatures/obstacles.

There is another big flaw in Kerorican, though. Its length. There are only four levels in the whole game!! And once you get the hang of what you're doing (which may take a while), you'll probably never play the first two levels again, as they're WAY too easy!! And since there's so little variation in the game -- and no option to put in your own music CDs to generate new levels (duh) -- this game will quickly lose its charm, and get shelved.

It DOES have a certain lasting appeal, however. It's one of those games that you might pick up again a year after putting it away, just for the nostalgia value. It's old-school music gaming. It's fun. And it's WonderSwan Color!

And considering how cheaply you can get your hands on this within Japan (I bought mine used for 980 yen, or roughly $8), it's definitely a worthy game to add to your WSC collection. Especially if you like Vib Ribbon, or have always been intrigued by it (but own a WSC instead of a PSX, for some reason).

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 09/25/02, Updated 09/25/02

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