If you exclude classic ’80s Japanese-animated/adapted stuff like Battle For The Planets, Ulysses 51, The Goddamn Mysterious Cities Of Flipping Gold and the like, then the first anime qua anime series I fell in love with was 3×3 EYES (apparently pronounced “Sazan Eyes” in Japanese or e.g. “three times three eyes” if like me you’re deep in weeaboo-denial). It was shown on terrestrial telly here in the UK back in the mid-’90s when all japanimation was known as “Manga”. Late Friday nights on Channel 4, just after Troma’s Edge TV I think (until replaced by Fist Of The North Star).
The series which was based on an actual manga (i.e. comic) hit a lot of the standard anime tropes, almost all of which were new to me however. Think of it as my cartoon equivalent of FFVII for JRPGS. I forget the fine details but think demons possessing young girls, painfully-innocent female leads, random crossdressing, even more random body-kanji, nuclear-style explosions, psychic powers, ancient otherworldly peoples and ridiculous fight scenes. That sort of thing. Also, third eyes.
There were apparently two 3×3 EYES games made for the SNES and only ever released in Japan. The untranslated first game was subtitled Seima Korinden but the second 3×3 EYES: Jūma Hōkan received a fan-translation earlier this year(?!).
The YouTube video above probably contains more play than I’ve managed so far, despite exceeding the largely-notional five minutes of this series. Graphics are great, there’s some very nice Shadow Of The Beast-y parallax scrolling, your character Yakumo has his hair forever in his eyes whether looking up or down, the city has a very Midgar-unter-pizza feel to it. Early gameplay has you searching for the missing Pai to whom Yakumo is bound.
Areas scroll left and right. Pressing up will allow you to interact with the background e.g. talking to a shopkeeper, entering a doorway, picking up an item or ascending a staircase. Pressing down functions similarly however seems to be mainly used for picking up items obscured by foreground graphics. Yakumo can low- or high-jump depending on how long the button is pressed, although I’ve not yet found myself in combat or any situation where I needed to consider my leaping options tbh.
In cool proto-MGS style, ringing your ally Ling-Ling allows you to save the game.
As with any narrative-led game a brief play is unlikely to generate meaningful feedback on the game as a whole. That said, the production values of the game itself are very good, the fan-translation strikes me positively with a lack of Engrish or hyper-literal translatese and I’m looking forward to getting further into the game. Having discovered how to heal, I’m admittedly rather wary about how fighting will shake out.
Verdict: L BREAK into program, 5:1