Friday, 31 August 2012

Konami Wai Wai World (NES)

Konami Wai Wai World title screen famicom
I love Super Mario Crossover (browser game link), and I'm kind of surprised Nintendo hasn't taken the idea for themselves yet. Someone put Mario, Mega Man, Samus Aran, Simon Belmont etc. together in one game, and for once it wasn't in a fighting game or a racing game! Uh, not that there's anything wrong with those genres, it's just not really their natural habitat. So when I found out there was a game called Wai Wai World starring famous (pre 1988) Konami platformer heroes, I thought it might be worth a look.

I just hope they don't make me play as that Captain America wannabe sticking his head through the title screen.

It looks like I'm playing as Superman with horns, I wonder what game he's from. Oh wait, this is that guy from the title screen isn't it? Crap.

Right at the start I'm forced to make a difficult choice. Difficult because I have no idea what these doors are for. Right now my best guess is that they're save game slots. Maybe the text I skipped at the start explained things, but unfortunately it was in Japanese and I couldn't understand a word of it.

I tried door number one and it brought up even more words in Japanese. No matter what option I choose, nothing is starting the game. I think I'm going to have to resort to drastic measures, and try to actually decipher some of these words.

Konamiman.
Konamiredei.
Goemon.
Shimon.
Fuuma.

I've probably gotten some of that wrong, but that looks like a list of names to me. I'm guessing my superhero cosplayer must be called Konami Man, and... none of this is helping me start the game.

Konami Wai Wai World stage select screen
Ah, door number two is way more useful, I love level select screens. I think it's nice when a game gives me a little choice where to go next, instead of the levels being welded together to form one straight marathon run to the finish line contained within a sealed unit only accessible from one end.

Though I might as well just start from Pirate World in the top left and play through them in order.

Konami Wai Wai World teleporter
I hope this doesn't put you guys off teleportation. Statistically speaking, it's still the safest way to travel.

Look, he's got a K on his Superman outfit, that totally means he's Konami Man. And a K on his Captain America helmet now that I think about it too.

Hah, I'm totally disappearing into the background! I can't actually remember the last time I had that problem in a NES game, they're usually pretty good at keeping the hero visible even with the limited palette.

Hang on, I recognise these giant rats. I was punching these guys to get bombs in Konami platformer The Goonies.

No bombs in this unfortunately, but they do drop hearts and bullets. And unlike in the Castlevania games, this time the hearts actually give me health. Though the bullets seem pretty useless right now.

I tried going into the open door when I found my way around to it, and it led into a brick room where a skeleton in purple robes invited me to play a game of chance. Pretty much exactly what you'd expect to find inside a derelict ship really. 

I have no idea what any of this means, but I get the feeling the skeleton's laughing at me. Also I'm pretty sure that bastard just stole some of my health.

And then a little bit further down the level, a squid takes the rest of my health. Konami Man is no more.

I'm going to (partially) blame the camera for this one. I'm ridiculously close to the edge of the screen, so I have barely any time to react. I mean I understand why they did it this way, it's for the simultaneous two player co-op mode, but it's still ridiculous.

But I still have another character! Konami Lady enters the fray.

And then I jump onto this ledge to kick an enemy and lose most of my health.

Kicking doesn't seem to harm the enemy anemones, so I tried quickly jumping through them instead. It didn't work out. Now Konami Lady has turned into a flower (for whatever reason) and a flying jellyfish is laughing at me. GAME OVER.

Actually it wasn't game over, because the professor behind door #1 kindly brought me back into the fight again, at the cost of half of my bullets. So I tried to jump across the ledges again, and failed.

But then I tried it again. And failed.

So I thought 'fuck it', and went over to level two instead. And now I'm fighting dudes with sticks I can't get close enough to hit without taking damage myself. Some superhero this guy is.


LATER.


Believe it or not I'm still on the same level, the bloody thing seems to go on forever. I just keep climbing higher and higher up this hill. And damn I hate these bouncing Tengu things, they're so hard to hit. I'm really starting to miss the rats.

But hang on, I think that gap in the wall might be another door.

Konami Wai Wai World Famicom bunny girl fruit machine
Did I win? Three in a row is a win, right? I'm just going to pretend I won, and move on.


EVENTUALLY.


I hate these ninjas even more than the Tengu and the dudes with the spears. They're faster than me (like most enemies) and they flip through the air whenever they get close to me, meaning they're a pain in the ass to hit. And if I can't hit them, I can't get my healing hearts.

I'm actually doing much worse here than it looks. I can switch between my characters at any time, and each one has their own life bar. And though Konami Man is doing alright, poor Konami Lady is down to her last few units of health. Once she's gone, I lose her for the rest of the level.

Fuck, a dragon miniboss? Fortunately I'm able to keep it frozen in place by hammering the punch button until it's dead. Though the thing didn't even have the decency to drop any hearts.

But hey, I got a key! Damn, I'm glad I decided to come down these stairs instead of heading further up when I had the choice. That would have been a lot of fun, making it all the way to the last room of this place with half a hit point left, only to find a locked door. It's definitely a case of there being a right path, and a wrong path, and no clues which is which.


EVENTUALLY.


I only just scraped by a few more dragons with only one hit-point left, and thankfully one of them finally dropped some bloody hearts. I mean the hearts weren't literally bloody... although maybe they were, it's hard to tell at this resolution. How does a platformer hero get health from a heart anyway? Do they eat it to take their victim's power?

Anyway I found a dude in a cage, and fortunately I already had the key because fuck backtracking all the way down there again. Seriously.


LATER.


Well it turns out that rescuing the character didn't actually finish the level, and there are no exits up on the roof, so... I have to backtrack all the way down again. ALL the way down.

Though on the plus side, the character I rescued was Goemon, and I get to play as him! He's even brought that tune I liked (youtube link) from Mr. Goemon and Ganbare Goemon! Karakuri Dōchū with him! He plays pretty much just like the other two characters though, except his weapon hits slightly higher.


SOON.


I can check out my team's status at any point, and right now my status is 'I'm basically fucked'. There's no way I'm making it off this level alive unless I can find a place where an easy enemy respawns, and beat it up for hearts.


EVENTUALLY, BACK AT HQ.


Sadly not all of us made it back to the extraction point. Though with a bit of internet research, I discovered that if I scroll down to the second to last word in the professor's list, I can visit his sinister brother. He's a useful guy to know because he has power over the souls of men, and can bring people back from the dead for the low low price of 100 bullets. No clue why he's so keen to stockpile ammo, but I don't really care, and Goemon is soon raised from the dead and back on the team.

By the way, the final word on the professor's list brings up my current password, which is a damn useful thing to know. There's no saves, but I can live with passwords.



BACK... TO THE LEVEL SELECT!


From the skulls I'm assuming this is the Getsu Fūma Den level, but this is as far as I'm able to get in it. It's not even my fault this time, I just can't jump high enough to get over this wall. Fortunately it won't be much of a walk to get back to the teleporter.

And on the city level all my heroes are too tall to get through this narrow passageway near the start. Konami Man and friends can crouch just fine, but they all still struggle with the concept of 'crawling'.

And on the Easter Island level I soon run into a dead end. You know, I'm getting the feeling that I need to recruit more heroes.

I'm half expecting Samus Aran to show up considering how 'Metroid' this game has been getting. Yeah I know she's not a Konami character, but Snake isn't a Nintendo character and he still showed up in Smash Bros!

This is the last place on the level map I haven't been to yet: Dracula's castle from Castlevania. Sadly I don't get 'Vampire Killer' playing in the background because the music is determined by the current character, but Goemon's tune is pretty good too.

Though I do get Castlevania's bats. Lots of bats.

It's starting to look a lot like Castlevania now, though that just makes it more obvious how the gameplay isn't so great by comparison.

And I am getting sick of those green things totally failing to miss me with their three-way fireballs. Whatever I do, however quickly I dodge, I always seem to end up with fireballs in the face.

Konami Man got his ass kicked to near death again, so I'm playing as Konami Lady again for a bit until I can refill his health. There's no other reason to switch between them really as they're exactly equal in how they play and what they can do (so far). Well, okay they do have different theme songs....  but they're equally good.

Konami Man theme.
Konami Lady theme.
(youtube links)

That power up down there on the bottom right looks like a gun, which means I must have it. I already know full well there's no way I'll be able to get over there with the characters and skills I've got, but I thought I'd go down on the lift anyway and see what happened. And of course the lift immediately dropped like a brick, killing her instantly. Which is just mean. Plus also shitty game design.

And then Konami Man and Goemon fell into the water and died. I blame the low ceilings!

Also, the art in this place is really misleading. Those wooden platforms I'm using to jump across the water look just like the rope in the background. On the other hand, that two brick tall stone wall on the left actually IS just part of the background.

But anyway, I'm out of characters so it's back to HQ.


EVENTUALLY.


I resurrected my team, went all the way back through the castle, made it across the wooden bridge. And my reward is a giant one eyed mutant frog boss. Great.

Fortunately I had just enough hit points between my three characters to last long enough to kill it. And my reward for a glorious victory is... a single key. Not even one single heart fell out of that thing for me.

But whatever, it's fine. I can just spend a few minutes pacing back and forth here, killing off weak enemies to restock my health. For each of my characters in turn.

Did I mention the game has no time limit?


BUT THEN.


Oh shit, the top route led to Dracula! And he's doing that thing where he murders me with fireballs from his cape. Finally I get to learn what would happen in a fight between Goemon and the Prince of Darkness.

And the answer is: Goemon runs away and falls down a hole.

BUT, I actually got out of this near certain death situation, by managing to jump off the bottom brick and into the passageway to the left... where I got Goemon hopelessly stuck while Dracula pelted him to death with fireballs.

Fortunately Konami Lady put up more of a fight. Before falling down a hole.


EVENTUALLY.


And so I replayed the whole damn level again from the start (fortunately they let me keep my key from the last run), and this time I was able to slip past Dracula to discover a mysterious locked coffin.

Because nothing bad ever happens from opening coffins in spooky Transylvania castles, I immediately unlocked it and freed the prisoner inside.

And now I get to play as Simon Belmont! On the way back down he took care of Dracula in a single hit, with 'Vampire Killer' playing in the background (finally)... and that's the closest I'll ever come to finishing a Castlevania game.

Simon isn't afflicted by his awkward Castlevania jump, and can steer in the air like any other character in this game, though he's got a long delay on his whip. But then again, it's a long whip, so he's still got a big advantage against certain enemies.


AFTER WALKING ALL THE WAY BACK THROUGH THE CASTLE.


Right, now I'm back on the Goonies stage, and this time I'm able to kill those damn enemies squatting on my platforms and preventing me from jumping across. Revenge at last.

Finally I get to see what's past those damn platforms. It turned out to be lightning fast killer walruses and cute fireball breathing polar bears. The bears I can handle, but those walruses are a pain in the ass.

I... am honestly surprised I made it all this way across all those jumps without poor Goemon taking a surprise lava bath. And I'll be even more surprised if I make it back with the key.

Awesome, I've finally freed... whoever I was playing as in The Goonies! He seems like he'd be good at getting in smaller areas, like that passage on the city level.

Sorry squid, but hitting things on the ledge above is Goemon's speciality. Poor guy didn't stand a chance.

Oh wait, hold up a sec, is that a gun I spy up there on the right?

Haha, eat my massive stockpile of bullets you big stupid jellyfish! Now I don't even need Simon's whip attack to get across this chasm. Which is good because I accidentally managed to kill him off two minutes ago. I finally make it back to the teleporter and escape. Mission complete.


I'm going to stop playing here, because I think I've got a clear enough picture of what the game is now. The gameplay isn't too solid, the enemies are a bit crap... in fact, it's pretty rubbish, and being squashed against the side of the screen all the time doesn't help. But despite all that I can't help but like the game. It's kind of got a Metroid thing going for it, where I have to backtrack through areas, collecting skills to upgrades to open up new routes, and it makes the game more interesting than it otherwise would be.

In fact I'd have been happy to play this longer, so I've got to give it my gold star award. Because that's what it's for.


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Semi-Random Game Box