“No Yohko, you can’t stay out hunting demons, it’s a school night.”
RELEASE DATE: 03/22/1991 (JP)
If you’ve ever dipped a toe into the wild, confusing sea of Japan-exclusive games, you know that Japanese developers aren’t immune to using a popular license in order to make a quick buck. Case in point: the untold amounts of unplayable “Dragon Ball Z” games, the majority of which gracefully never made it to our shores. These games often take little time to make, use very little resources, and more often than not, make a handsome return.
I’m not sure if Mamono Hunter Yōko falls into this category or not. The anime seems like it has a cult following, but only six episodes were produced over a several year span, so was it truly popular by Japan’s standards? Popular enough to receive several video games (one on the Mega Drive, two on the PC-Engine), not popular enough to receive additional episodes? C’mon Yōko fanboys, let me know in the comments.
Grandpa’s gonna get ya!
The anime tells the story of sixteen-year-old Yōko, a typical high-school girl who loves boys and slaying demons. She’s set to become the 108th Devil Hunter in a long line of female devil hunters, but before she can inherit the title, demons from a parallel world invade Earth and try to destroy her. If she becomes the Devil Hunter, she’ll be able to slay the demons and prevent them from extinguishing the human race forever. Serious stuff!
These guys really do look like they hate the human race.
“Mamono Hunter Yōko” might be more of a cult hit than a truly popular show, but the Mega Drive game sure plays like a shoddily produced tie-in meant to capitalize on the show’s success. Imagine a platformer where enemies fire projectiles and ascend/descend upon you like an aggressive shoot-em-up. Oh, and your skinny girl lead controls like a graceless muscle man. Mamono Hunter Yōko, go!
This is one flower Algernon can’t have.
In the game, Yōko controls like a sweaty shirtless beefcake – slow and clunky – rather than the young lithe teenager she truly is. If only she was as strong as said beefcake. Her sword appears long and sharp, but it’s not enough to fend off the constant barrage of enemy attacks that hail from every direction. There are no secondary attacks, save for a shield that appears when you hold down the attack button. The shield only blocks certain projectiles, but all direct enemy hits blast right through it. Given the sheer amount of enemies on-screen, particularly from level 3 and beyond, it’s near impossible to progress without constant death.
This chump’s trying to squash your game, Yohko, let ’em have it.
There are five levels in total. The first level takes Yōko in and around an enormous flower. She bounces from stalk to stalk while (presumably) demonic bees and piranhas try to bring her into the underworld. The second level takes place near a volcano. Yōko has to make her way through underground caverns, littered with crawling eyeballs, fire nozzles, and ancient lizard creatures. The third level – a nondescript swamp filled with enemies – is where I succumbed to Mamono Hunter Yōko‘s treacherous ways.
These green projectiles travel quickly across the screen. A pox on them!
Up until the third level, Mamono Hunter Yōko is more mediocre than terrible. Repetitive level design, annoying enemies, underpowered main character, etc. Here in the swamp, amidst all the humidity and violence, the game decides to become truly unfair. Fish, insects, and their belligerent projectiles band together to fell Yōko again and again. Never mind the absurd number of lives (5) and continues (7) that all but imply the game’s way too hard. Yōko – the Devil Hunter who’s supposed to save the world from an impending demonic invasion – can’t even receive a few hits from some fish without ripping in twain? Ridiculous.