For me at least one of the greatest selling points the Playstation 3 has to offer is the PSone Classics service. Even with just the respectable library that is offered in the U.S it’s a great value, especially when the only alternative is ebay and who wants to pay $50 when you could pay $6? In
Japan it is
something else entirely. I can only assume there are literally no restrictions
for posting a PS1 game on the service because the selection is phenomenal
bordering on absurd. Aside from covering just about every genre imaginable the
Japanese PSN has a habit of picking up a ton of niche games that either nobody
has talked about them or they’re so out there that nobody can figure them out
(even those who can understand Japanese).
Monkey Paw Games (monkeypawgames.com) has put out a number of these obscure Japanese games on our PSN and I’m here to talk about their latest release, Rapid Angel. Rapid Angel is known as a “High Tension Comical Action Game”. It’s nice to have a subtitle that explains the game and saves me the trouble. This is also one of the very few instances of English in the entirety of the game so that’s about all I have to on for the rest of this review.
Rapid Angel is the story of three young women who own a shop. Maybe they’re bounty hunters and this is their office, assumptions are all I have and they don’t seem to be selling anything. After a conversation between the three of them that painfully reminds me of back when I watched Sailor Moon, the Angel I decide to play as takes a trip halfway across the country to get an envelope from a strange man. This is where things turn south and pretty soon the military, a nun, a couple of priests, maids, robots, cyborgs, and who knows what else wants to see some dead Angels. When it comes to videogames the question is never “Why?” it is “Why not?”
I have to say that it’s rare and pleasant when the main female characters of a videogame are dressed appropriately. It also helps that they can handle their own for whatever their insane world decides to throw at them. Natsumi is all about punching and kicking until things stop moving. Ayane has a sword so I’m pretty sure she cuts everyone to pieces. Haruna is the token shrine maiden who uses magic to destroy her foes. She’s a bit of an interesting case in that many of her moves take a long time to perform but they can be devastating. There are two bonus characters, one of them spits in the face of appropriate attire and the other is a guy with a sword. The game is split into over a dozen levels which can take anywhere from several minutes to several seconds to complete.
Alright then, "High Tension Comical Action Game", let me see if I can’t break this down. High is all about the ladies getting height from making those big jumps. This is important because a portion of your end of level score tally is going to come from how much air-time you get. There is quite a bit of platforming to be done and the controls are very well-done. All of the playable characters are more than capable of making these jumps and can even perform some long jumps to skip a bunch of pesky platforms.
Tension is well let’s just say the tension comes from the scoring system in this game. If you’re not too concerned about your score this is a pretty easy ride. You have an unlimited stock of continues and checkpoints are pretty frequent. However if you care about your score those continues have to go in the trash. Furthermore to get a high score you’ll have to move faster, be more aggressive, and do whatever is necessary to get some hot combos.
If I had my way no videogame would be allowed to take itself too seriously. Needless to say I’m all about the Comical aspects. Rapid Angel knows nothing of subtlety and that’s okay because the game relies on its increasing levels of weirdness to keep things amusing. In fact having no idea where the story is heading makes everything better I think. It really feels like the developer behind this game didn’t know where to go next and just threw together something. It’s entirely nonsensical and I like it.
Action, yes there is enough action to be had here. The enemies tend to be armed with weapons of their own and you’ll have to deal with them quickly or dodge their attacks until an opening presents itself. Some of the bosses could have used a bit more help though. By that I mean that they should have considered taking along some minions to assist in the battle. With Natsumi all I had to do most of the time was get in with a jump-kick, do a combo, and repeat until the boss died a pathetic and shameful death. There are a handful of bosses that double-team the Angel which makes things very interesting. Look Techno Soleil, I understand you guys have been defunct for over a decade now but I have a suggestion. Give the bosses more options for dealing with vertical assaults. Maybe throw in some flying uppercuts, some more jumping attacks, anything to keep me grounded and guessing. Most of the time I die either because I don’t know what’s coming next or I haven’t been able to find some health-replenishing food for quite awhile.
Rapid Angel is quite a good Game for what it is; a throwback to those days when action-platformers were like grains of sand in the desert. Admittedly it doesn’t do all that much to stand out and the visuals are barely a step above what I’ve been playing lately on the XBLIG but everything works and makes for an entertaining game. Aside from the five playable characters there are also three difficulty settings and even a two-player mode that you’ll likely never play. All around this is a solid package and certainly worth your $6.