Samurai Pizza Cats
At a Glance: Tecmo brings us an atypical adventure game in which you play as cats that have the abilities to fly, swim, break large rocks, and dig. To be specific, you are the "Samurai Pizza Cats." Contrary to the game's title, you will notice that there are no pizzas nor any samurai cats. Basically you travel through a variety of levels fighting enemies, some of which are reminiscent of Bandai's "Dr. Jeykll and Mr. Hyde's" enemies. This fact alone should be enough to make you hate the game.
Platform: NES (Download Emulator here - 192k)
Download: Download ROM here - 165k
Game Plot: Oh no, aliens are attacking the "Samurai Pizza Cat's" home town! Yep, that about sums it up. Although they call them "aliens," you quickly realize that in Japanese the word "alien" must mean "armored bird" because there are no aliens, just lots and lots of birds wearing awkward colored armor. Anyway, you can't really understand what is happening because the game becomes fully Japanese after you beat the first level. You may notice a few words that are in English after this point, such as "Arghhhh" and "pee." Other than that, you can only assume that the "aliens" must still be up to no good, and that you must stop them from destroying your little village.
Weapons: You can play as three different main characters, each with the ability to summon four other side characters. Two of the main characters have swords, while the third has an umbrella type thing. The side characters all have the unique ability to punch. If you manage to hold up and hit the attack button, you will see your character throw some strange weapons (everything from throwing stars to water waves).
Another great thing you are likely to stumble upon is a magical block with Japanese writing on it. If you pick up this item, your special attack will be changed. You will find that most of the highest specials manage to clear all of the enemies off the screen, but if you run into another one of the Japanese blocks while on the highest attack level you will go back to the first move you had. Most of the side characters' special moves are just variations of the main character's, and you will probably end up playing as a primary character for most of the time because they have better attacks. The only reason you will ever switch to a side character is the fact that the programmers felt like putting piles of sand and boulders in the middle of the levels. The main cats do not have the ability to pass through these, so in such situations you have to become a secondary cat and work your way through the nuisances. Some people refer to this as "strategy", but I just call it "stupid".
Enemies: Fat things throwing musical notes everywhere and birds flying overhead - this sounds like "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"! But that's not to say the game didn't have any of it's own unique enemies. As you play through, you will meet many strange creatures. More than once you will see my personal favorite, "the little bear thing that is shampooing it's hair." This creature had some kind of killer shampoo in it's hair, and whenever it lathered it up, two or three "Samurai Pizza Cat seeking bubbles" would fly out of it's head. You will also fight women creatures (I could only distinguish because they had breasts) which walk up to you and throw three balls of fire onto the floor. The cats will be attacked by little policemen that run up to you, grab their heads, and then proceed to explode into three stones. On top of that there are these little jugs that have arms and legs, and will run up to you and throw an egg into the sky. If you do not kill it, the egg will break on the ground and a bird will be born from the BROKEN egg. Since "Samurai Pizza Cats" cannot duck, you will most likely be hit by the bird if you do not instantly kill it upon hatching.
Number of Levels: If you beat the first level, you will be brought to a small map of the village. You will see that there are only three remaining levels left to choose from, and will probably say, "Thank God!" I will warn you now: upon beating the next three levels, you will be greeted with four new locations to battle on. This goes on until you finally think you are on the last level. Then a mystical flying whale with a Japanese house on it's back comes to the village of "The Samurai Pizza Cats." A sword falls out of the flying whale, one of the stupid cats runs over and touches it, and *POOF*! Magically, all of the cats gain wings and full body armor, at which time they proceed to fly next to the whale (it would obviously be dumb to just land on the whale). Next they will ditch their wings and parachute onto the whale from above. By now, if you haven't died from laughing too hard at the cheap animation, you are banging your head on your keyboard and contemplating suicide.
Number of Bosses: Thankfully this game was very good about the bosses. The end guys didn't become regular enemies after you beat them, and each level had a new boss! You will find that most of the final enemies are some kind of bird. You will fight giant robotic penguins, a chicken, and a duck. There is also a robotic fish and a metal fox. Two of the bosses on the flying whale were very special. One was a Mexican playing music on an acoustic guitar, who's musical notes would fly everywhere as he bounced back and forth across the screen trying to land on you. The other special enemy was the final boss. It reminded me of Gonzo from "The Muppet Babies." (note from Lowtax: this character sounds like "Bad Bird", who was the coolest character in the cartoon). He would float in the air and then dive bomb you. After I hit "Gonzo" a few hundred times, he started flashing (teleporting) to different parts of the screen, and then dive-bombed me even quicker! You will find that most of the bosses in this game are really easy, with the obvious exceptions of "Gonzo" and the Mexican.
Defining Moment: Falling asleep while watching the obnoxiously long stories / animations that were between each level and before every boss. Every one of these movies after the first stage were in Japanese, and because the creators of the game were smart, they made it so you could not skip through these stupid scenes. They were just pointless wastes of time. My screensaver actually came on a couple of times while I was waiting for some of them to finish! If you would like to simulate the wonder of "Samurai Pizza Cats" at your home, you should purchase seven cats. Train two of them to use swords, and one of them to fight with an umbrella (no, I don't know how you would do this!). Give the other four the abilities to fly, swim, dig, and break rocks. Then dress them up in armor, capture some birds, dress them in armor as well, and then place them in a vast closed space with piles of rocks, dirt, and water. Come back in a couple of weeks after watching reruns of "The Wonder Years" and see if any of them have survived. If the cats are the only survivors, you can safely assume "The Samurai Pizza Cats" have defeated the "aliens." If the birds are the only ones left, then the "aliens" won. If both groups are still alive, go and rent copies of "Little Monsters" and "The Wizard" and watch these repeatedly. After another week goes by, check and see how things have turned out.
Each category in the rating system is based out of a possible -10 score (-10 being the worst). The overall score is based out of a possible -50 score (-50 being the worst).