[I ♥ The PC Engine] Kaizō Chōjin ShubibinmanPosted on November 2nd, 2009 4 comments
Kaizō Chōjin Shubibinman
Maker: NCS (Masaya)
Release Date: 3/18/89
Price: 5200 yen
Media: HuCard (2 Mbit)
PC Engine FAN Score: 21.16 / 30.00
Kōgien: “The breezy music and unique synthesized voices are impressive, especially the “Let’s go!” shouts and other high-quality samples. Two players can fight at once, and you can join together to fire a combo Shubi-beam.”
Alongside Langrisser and Chō Aniki, Kaizō Chōjin Shubibinman is NCS’s flagship title. It’s certainly the most popular series they released on the PC Engine, at any rate. It spawned two sequels on the PCE, the first of which came out for the TG16 in 1992 under the name Shockman and the second a Super CD-ROM² exclusive that hit Japan in early ’92. A fourth game, Kaizō Chōjin Shubibinman 0,was completed for the Super Famicom in 1994 but wound up never coming out in cartridge form, instead getting distributed on Satellaview in 1997.
Being a parody of the tokusatsu genre, Kaizō Chōjin Shubibinman has a somewhat outlandish plot. The Akūma Gang has arrived on Earth in a giant meteor to enslave humanity — starting with your sleepy hometown, of course, as sort of a warm-up — and local eccentric inventor Dr. Gōtokuji has invented a suite of cyborg technology named Shubibinman to combat the threat. Unable to find any candidates willing to put up with his crap, the good doctor instead rounds up the first two people who don’t run away from him — Tasuke, a kid who works at the fish market next door, and Kyapiko, a high-school girl with a highly (highly) unlikely name.
To protect the planet, and to get their normal lives back, they fight their way across the game map to the Akūma Gang’s fortress in a system not entirely like what you saw in the NES game Clash at Demonhead. You’re only four stages away from beating the game, technically, but beating those stages in a straight shot is nigh-impossible without the enhancements you earn by going through side levels, saving townspeople, and earning cash to extract power-ups from Dr. Gōtokuji’s arms. (Why he doesn’t just give you them is a mystery, especially since he’s not charging you much for each bonus — like, no more than a few hundred yen or so. This must have been pre-inflation Japan.)
The stages themselves are strictly 8-bit in their platform-y design. You’ve got a sword and (later on) the power to fire a charged “Shu-bi-beam” at enemies. The game allows two player co-op, and this makes things a great deal easier — your combined Shu-bi-beam kills all (yes, all) bosses in a single hit, and torching your partner with a beam sends his burning body running around the screen damaging enemies. It turns a really challenging one-player game into a party-time cakewalk for two.
Despite the fantastic music (which stays very true to the classic tokusatsu roots), the first Shubibinman isn’t what I’d call a classic. In fact, to put it more harshly, I don’t think there’s much of anything here that couldn’t have been done on a Famicom in 1987. Things improved rapidly with what we know as Shockman, though.
One thing I should mention before I forget it again is that NCS (and not Hudson oddly) was the first developer to implement digitized drums on the PC Engine. They debuted that sound engine with Motoroader, and it immediately makes their stuff sound unique compared to the rest of the HuCard library at this point.
Wow, NCS! Aren’t those the people behind Mamono Hunter Yohko?
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