Starting today, Hokkaido-based MonkeyPaw Games will be launching the PSN Import Store with classic shmups Cho Aniki and GaiaSeed. Hitting the PlayStation 1 over a decade ago, these untranslated and unedited titles serve as a reminder of the distinct flavor Japan has to offer. The question is, do these titles still hold up in this day and age of space marines and brown?
The Cho Aniki series of games dates back to a long line of homoerotic shooters dating back to the Super Famicom (aka Super Nintendo to us yanks). Forget games like Muscle March: this iteration of the series “blows” others out of the water with in terms of sheer homoeroticism (sorry, low blow).
For those that make it through the intro cinematic of scantily clad men swimming to a techno beat, a challenging “one hit and your dead” shmup awaits. Avoiding flying afro heads, men-on-men pogo sticks, and wave after wave of bullets, this game serves as a hard challenge that many modern-day games have failed to deliver.
Those that survive this bullet hell (or just hell, depending on your point of view) may think they have seen it all, but nothing can prepare those for the boss of the first stage: a half-naked man with a metal cod-piece dancing to cabaret. Seriously.
Aksys Games had localized pseudo-prequel Cho Aniki Zero to the PlayStation Portable last year, so it was only natural that the most risque title in the series would be brought to the states. It’s an arcade shooter that has stood the test of time, but the, *ahem*, themes might be a little too much for the average American gamer raised on a bland diet of Call of Duty and Medal of Honor.
GaiaSeed is another shoot-em-up, but one that is much more American-friendly than Cho Aniki; then again, what isn’t?
Set in the final frontier, GaiaSeed weaves a tale of a lone starfighter fighting wave after wave of enemies for the good of mankind. I’m surprised this little guy hasn’t bumped into a fleet of ships from Gradius’ to Galaga’s. I will say the inclusion of a cinematic story voiced completely in English is a nice touch.
In a sense, one could say that this is a 32-bit homage to R-Type. Not only is the sprite style similar, the scaling graphics, level of detail, and general aesthetics share some similarities. Even the first boss bears a striking resemblance to one of the series’ trademark baddies.
One thing is noticeably different though; its difficulty. A rechargeable shield alleviates much of the frustration, ships can take multiple hits, and an upgrade system rewards players that don’t bite the dust every five mintues. Think of it as a nostalgic game minus the old-school frustration, the yin to Cho Aniki’s yang.