Posted on May 27th, 2009 15 comments
Release Date: 2/5/88
Price: 4900 yen
Media: HuCard (2 Mbit)
PC Engine FAN Score: 21.04 / 30.00
Kōgien: “An action game where the hero Tarosuke, who’s fallen into hell, must journey back up to heaven. Features multiple endings. The hero can fire spirit beams, but charging up first allows him to fire more powerful beams. An early PC Engine title.”
Namco’s first PCE game. Also the first real “third party” title on the PCE. Also the first game chronologically to rate over 20 points on the PCE FAN scale. Also the first arcade port that people really cared about. This also came out on the Famicom a few months later in Japan; the PCE and arcade versions are available now on the Japanese Virtual Console.
By the way, “NAMCOT” was the label Namco used for its home releases in Japan from 1983 until early 1995. Don’t ask me why.
Tarosuke has been a naughty kid. A very, very, very naughty kid. Naughtier than, like, OJ. So God decided to teach him a lesson by transporting him to the entrance of Buddhist Hell while he was sleeping so he can be given final judgment by the Great King Enma. This is his story.
Yōkai Dōchūki was a departure for Namco when it hit arcades in early 1987 — and I’m not talking about all the religion and olde-Japan references, since Genpei Tōmaden had just come out the autumn before. It was one of the the first Namco games to drop scores entirely (The Return of Ishtar was the same way, and Genpei had a score count that was largely useless, which I’ll discuss when I get to that PCE port), it had a stat display that took up literally half the screen, and it had a free-roam element to its five levels that made it unique among the platformers of the day.
The difficulty level on the arcade game was off the charts, though, and the title enjoyed support from only the hardest of the hardcore. As a result of this, the PC Engine version, while pretty close to the original graphically, is a heavily simplified game — to the point where most gamers can beat it given a few hours’ worth of practice — while the Famicom port was more faithful to the arcade game’s layout. Arino managed the feat in one episode of Game Center CX, although he got one of the bad endings (see below).