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  • [I ♥ The PC Engine] Yokai Dochuki

    Posted on May 27th, 2009 keving 14 comments

    4010Yōkai Dōchūki
    (妖怪道中記)

    Maker: Namco
    Release Date: 2/5/88
    Price:
    4900 yen
    Media:
    HuCard (2 Mbit)
    Genre: Action
    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.

    youkai-douchuuki-j-004 youkai-douchuuki-j-008

    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).


    This is part 1 of a full walkthrough. Part 2

    The first level of Yōkai Dōchūki is simple and largely serves as an introduction to the game’s play mechanics. It’s also your introduction to the fantastic music — the PCE doesn’t quite manage the full FM splendor of the arcade, but it comes close. Level two is much the same way, although it’s spiced up a bit by a celestial nymph that gives you the equivalent of a 1up if you feel like traversing the cloud platforms to her domain. (That’s Tarosuke’s ancient ancestor Monmotarō helping out during the boss fights.)

    Level three is when things get open-ended and difficult. The level’s themed after the tale of Urashima Tarō, and the object is to collect 30,000 yen and pay off the sea turtle at the end to take you to the Palace of the Dragon God so Princess Otohime can give you a private cabaret show. (Namco was kind of going through a phase around this point. I don’t know.) Afterwards, you receive a box (tamatebako) that, if you choose to open it, randomly gives you your money back or turns you into an old man. Don’t open it, brah. That term usually gets translated as “Pandora’s box” for a reason.

    The next level is the hardest in the game. You have to collect the three Imperial Regalia of Japan (just like in Genpei), but it’s difficult not to run out of time and/or life before you can make it to all three of ‘em. Things get easier once you make a map and memorize the correct route, as Arino ultimately had to do. Manage the feat, and you get an audience with Enma and are taken to the final stage. Here is where Yōkai gets a bit tricky with you. The big B, Mr. Big Ears and Really Fat Belly himself, is waiting at the end, but if you don’t want him pissed off at you and sending you to the Lair of Hungry Ghosts or somesuch, then you have to be extremely pious during this stage. By Yōkai’s standards, being pious means collecting no money and killing no enemies. This is a painful feat to execute, because of course the money’s right in your damn way all the time and Tarosuke is such a wimp at jumping that he can just barely clear a money bag if it’s on the ground. (There’s also a fake Buddha here, a PCE-version exclusive, but getting past him is easy once you know how.)

    Depending on how pious (or non-) you were in this final stage, Buddha will send you to one of his five realms of desire:

    1. Hell (地獄界 jigokukai), where you are doomed to eternal torment
    2. The World of Hungry Ghosts (餓鬼界 gakikai), where you are emaciated to skin and bones and food is always just out of your reach. Arino got this one
    3. The World of Animals (畜生界 chikushōkai), where you live, well, as an animal (In the PCE version, you turn into one of the demonic dogs that steal your money if you touch them during the game)
    4. The human world (人間界 ningenkai), the one we all live in. This counts as a bad ending in this universe
    5. Heaven (天界 tenkai), a lovely place full of sexy nymphs that Tarosuke definitely wants to reach even more than the human world. This is the official “good ending”


    Here’s a Nico-video showing all of the endings from all of the versions of the game — first arcade, then PCE, then Famicom — in order of worst to best. Some of them are funny; some of them a little nightmarish. The Famicom port has a super-special ending that sends you to the Game World (げいむかい), where you become a popular video-game character and get to hang out with all the other Namco all-stars of the day. (A gold star if you can identify all of them. Yes, including the spaceships.)

     

    9 responses to “[I ♥ The PC Engine] Yokai Dochuki” RSS icon

    • jeez, talk about ahead of its time! That story and scenario is nutso.

    • I will have to actually double-check some of these guesses, but here we go (left to right):

      * Ship 1: ship from Galaxian? (it can’t be from Galaga, could it?)
      * Ship 2: ship from Xevious? (I can’t think of any other games it could be from)
      * I don’t know who the guy in the yellow suit + white helmet is
      * The protagonist from Genpei Tomaden, standing in stoic silence
      * PacMan
      * Tarosuke (our hero from Yokai Dochuki)
      * A Reject from Warpman/DigDug floating midair?
      * Gilgamesh and Ki (Tower of Druaga)

      These characters are probably (mostly) from Namco’s Famicom releases, which would help me narrow things down… but still…

    • Excellent writeup! I always knew there was more to this game than the few levels I played, but I had no idea it had so much depth. Totally want to play more of it now.

      Characters from the Famicom arcade ending:

      - Guy from Metro-Cross
      - Guy from Genpei
      - Pac-Man
      - The little “I’M YOUR FRIENDO!” alien from Baraduke.
      - Gilgamesh
      - Ki

      Can’t really place the spaceships, though. Is one of them the Solvalou?

    • Amazing… it’s been 20 years since I first came across this game and here you are doing a write-up of it only a week before I took the effort to actually look for info on it.

      Do you have any info/pics on the arcade version? I remember it being somewhat grotesque with flayed corpses hobbling toward you within the first few screens. The impression I had was that its graphics were rather good (for the time, I’m sure).

    • The PCE version is pretty faithful to the arcade visually. There isn’t anything really gory in the arcade original, actually. Maybe you’re confusing it a bit with Splatterhouse, which did have several cuts applied to the PCE version for gore ‘n things.

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