5MA – 3×3 Eyes: Jūma Hōkan (1995, SNES)

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).

3x3-11

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.

3x3-8

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.

3x3-7

In cool proto-MGS style, ringing your ally Ling-Ling allows you to save the game.

3x3-1

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

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. stevenger says:

    I meant to reference 8-bit RoboCop and Heroes Of The Lance, but missed my cue, d’oh! Also, watching the video reveals that there’s a run button I wasn’t aware of nor pressing while playing, ha!

    Like

  2. Da22 says:

    Looks clunky as fook however very nice visuals. Not sure I could play through it however it does pose a question, how many decent Japanese SNES games did we miss?

    Liked by 1 person

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