Posted on April 15th, 2013 2 comments
Chimera Beast is a very obscure shooter, and not just because it’s a ’90s arcade game released by Jaleco. It’s even more obscure than that, and that’s probably why the fact that it’s currently available for play at the Mikado arcade in the Takadanobaba section of Tokyo is actual news to some people.
As the opening demo explains, you are an “Eater,” a grotesque alien creature who can either shoot down enemies or consume them in order to power up its body. Different foes transform your guy’s shape in different ways, giving him a selection of fire patterns and charged attacks. (Consuming an enemy also recovers a little energy.)
It seems like a forgettable shooter, given the relatively large size of your ship and the general blandness that generally pervades Jaleco products from the early ’90s. However, it actually demands a lot of precision. Bullets fly all over the place in later stages, but both your tail and the mandible-like thing you can shoot by pressing the “consume” button cancels enemy shots, so you have to strike a balance between careful positioning and delicate maneuvering in order to keep your life consumption as low as possible.
That’s probably why it never got released in Japan, where it was shown off at the AOU show in 1993 and subsequently disappeared despite being 100% complete. Japanese sources claim it was released overseas, but MAME lists it as “prototype” and I certainly never saw it in the Philadelphia-area arcades of 1993. (Or any other Jaleco title, either. They may have never had a distributor for the region, because I honestly can’t think of one I played before MAME came along. It was news to me that Astyanax was originally an arcade title.)
Normally something like an old arcade board from an obscure shooter showing up at a Tokyo arcade wouldn’t be news. But the debut has been accompanied by the launch of a mystery Twitter account, @chimerabeast, that’s apparently manned by one of the developers. He’s been uploading pages from the original design document and fielding questions from the general public, some of which are maniacs and/or masochists when it comes to playing this game down to the roots.
Have a poke around if you’re interested in more detail after watching the video above, which gets the “good ending” (although it requires a few minutes’ worth of boring procedure before defeating the last boss in order to get it).