Posted on November 13th, 2009 5 comments
One of my favorite Taito arcade games, and also one that had a lot of okay home ports (I memorized all the warps in the NES’s Kiwi Kraze back in the day) but no really definitive ones until MAME. The PC Engine version is missing assorted enemies and the Heaven stages; the Mega Drive version features different stages; the Amiga version, probably the most commercially successful one ‘cos it was packed in with the computer in the UK for a while, has nerfed balloons (hah); even the X68000 version sports weapons and enemies that work a little different from the original.
This is one of those games that punishes you because it loves you. The controls when riding balloons are ridiculously difficult. Learn the warps, and things get easier — as you’ll see, you don’t need to actually complete a level until 3-1.
A lot of people don’t know about Heaven because it tended not to show up in the home ports we got out West. After 2-4, if you lose your last life by getting hit with a projectile weapon, Tiki will be sent to one of three Heavens depending on what stage you reached. For “heaven,” it’s a pretty dangerous place. If you can reach the goddess at the end of the Heaven stage, you’ll get a special sort of Game Over; if you can find the secret exit out, you’ll fall all the way back down to Earth, get rewarded with one more life, and warp on to the next stage. (The player in this video takes advantage of this to skip most of 4-4, which is a huge pain in the ass and definitely the hardest stage in the game.)
The slightly unforgettable music, so lovingly remixed by Tim Follin for Kiwi Kraze, was composed by Yasuko Yamada, her first work in games. She hasn’t done much for the game business lately; her most well-known credits are probably Bust-a-Move 1 and 2. (Randomly, she also seems to be responsible for the soundtrack from the first Flintstones NES game.)