Name: Bastard!! Ankoku no Hakaishin (Bastard!! Dark God of Destruction)
Format: Super Famicom
Developer: Cobra Team
Publisher: Cobra Team
Year: 1994

As well as an anime and manga series (apparently*), Bastard!! is also a video game. It was originally released only in Japan (presumably due to the series being very popular over there), but a fan translation has been completed by Dejap Translations. Apparently it was a "fun project" which was started as a joke (presumably because the game was so easy to hack and translate. The game tells the story of Dark Schneider, and evil wizard who seems to want to take over the world (but the plot will no doubt change completely as you play through the game. He probably ends up going back in time and becoming his own father or something.**

The game is a fighting game, but unlike any others I have ever played. The action is viewed using a Mode 7 landscape from behind one of the characters, (they are in the foreground, and the opponent is in the background). Since the characters are super heroes, they can all fly, and so you can move your character left and right (basically strafing while keeping facing towards your opponent) or up and down (floating in the air). You can also fly very fast towards your opponent to either perform a special move or to reverse positions, so that you are on the opposite side of the battle field as you were before.

You perform moves usually at long range - each character will have their own "set" move (eg. fireball) which can be sent in different directions depending on which action button you press. The idea is, as with almost every fighting game since Street Fighter, to knock your opponent's health bar down to nothing. This wins you the match.

There are three modes that you can play the game in - the single player Story mode, the VS Battle mode (which can be played either against the CPU or against another player) and the Team Battle mode (which can be played either against the CPU or another player). The two "Battle" options see you pick either one, or a group of six fighters, and then battling it out with either the computer or your friend until one of you is dead. The story mode is basically scenes of conversations, with a fight going down every so often. Unfortunately, the game is hard. Very hard. I don't regard myself as a particulary good player of beat em ups, but the fact is I cannot complete the first level. Apparently, Dejap put in an instant death trainer, activated by two button presses (in case you just want to enjoy the plot). Unfortunately, I haven't been able to work out what buttons to press. Anyone?

The graphics for the game aren't bad (the Mode 7 effect is reasonable for it's time, but plenty of games made far more impressive use of it (*cough*). The music is uninspiring and repetitive during the battles, but sometimes OK-ish when the conversations are going on. And sound effects are pretty terrible. Overall, if you're into presentation, this probably isn't your thing. To be honest, if you're into a game that is actually anywhere near playable you're pretty much out of luck - this is so abusively hard it hurts. The main problem is that the enemies are so hard to hit that you can spend hours just trying to do some damage. And on the of chance that you eventually manage to win a round... you have to win another (it's the best of three rounds, Street Fighter style). I really can't be bothered with the game, but I'm sure if there are people who have truly superhuman gaming skill or who know the instant death feature, they will enjoy it loads. I wouldn't recommend it myself.

All those of you who are not idiots will have by now noticed that the game is called "Bastard!!". If you think that's rude, I wouldn't try the game - it contains such beautiful turns of phrase as:

"So you're alive, you bastard..."

"Well, if it isn't fuckface himself!"

The scary thing is, this is a direct translation of the original game. I have no idea what the poor Japanese mothers must have thought when they walked in on their 7 year olds playing this game, but either way, if it was released in the West, it would probably have been a 15 rated game.

Overall, if you like the series or you like very repetitive, difficult gameplay, then this is for you. Everyone else, steer well clear.

* - If you are a fan of the anime or the manga, please add a writeup.
** - Lie


Found out about the game at Dejap's site:
GameFAQs for the developer/publisher info.