This is a game I paid the most money I’ve ever paid for a game. For a good reason mind you, as Battle Mania Daiginjou is, without a doubt, the best game on the Sega MegaDrive / Genesis. OK, I might be a bit biased, but still for a reason. Because of this game VIC Tokai, or rather VIC Tokai’s Uchuu Tetsujin, has suddenly become my favourite game developer. Not a great achievement after what CAPCOM did, but I still.
The game’s about two sisters, Mania and Mari, who run a “Trouble Shooting” firm. By classical anime logic, they literally shoot the trouble they encounter, that usually being malevolent spirits, demons and other similar beings. Battle Mania Daiginjou is the second game in the series, first one being Battle Mania, or Trouble Shooter in the west. Sadly, Trouble Shooter never saw release in the European regions. It is, by all standards, a shooter game (shoot-em-up, SHMUP, whatever you want to call auto-scrolling 2D shooters)
The game’s presentation is one of the best there is. I have hard time trying to think any better presentation in any game. The main thing that grabs attention is that the game begins with a clock hitting 7:00, the introduces the end of Trouble Shooter, until it hits its opening song. Yes, this game opens like a cartoon, a good one at that. The music sets the mood very well and all the sprites are large and detailed. This describes the whole game in general; the sprites in the game are large, detailed and well animated. There’s a lot of love in this game, even thou if it had a small budget.
The plot is presented with cut scenes playing large sprites with text. Most of these scenes contain unique sprites never seen anywhere else in the game. They’re very pleasant to the eye and work well.
The plot itself begins in the manual, telling how the sisters partied in last game, and now after three days they’re eating chicken and drinking beer. An evil magician then appears behind their window, mocking their feeble attempts at stopping him. Mania gears up and leaves drunken Maria sleeping and goes after the magician. The first stage up vertically up scrolling (!!) alongside a skyscraper. There Mania battles against a horde of lesser demons, a demon clone of herself, and then the magician. The first stage ends in a great scene, where Maria crashes through a window with a car, flying on top the magician. The car’s busted for a stage or two.
The music in the game shows why I love MegaDrive’s sounds better than SNES’. Sure, most of MegaDrive music is crude, hard and lacks depth, but then again, SNES’ music is muffled incoherent wannabe-orchestra music. Both sound simply great, if the chips are used right. Studio Uchuu Tetsujin decided to make love to the MegaDrive’s synchchip and produced a great musical score for this game. Some of the sound effects are lifted from previous game, but most of them changed places for more appropriate spots. The music would sound better on SNES chip without a doubt (just like any other MegaDrive game) but I have my doubts. Y’see, Uchuu Tetsujin didn’t really like SNES at all. The original Trouble Shooter’s Japanese version had a secret intro where Mania jumps on SNES. This prompted SEGA to send notice mail to all of its developers. Uchuu Tetsujin didn’t really like SNES, as VIC Tokai transferred some of their budget to a SNES game when Trouble Shooter was in development. If I recall right, neither game sold well, but Battle Mania got better reviews saying “It could’ve used more polish.” ‘
Yeah, the sound. Some of the effects do get a little grading after the millionth time, but in overall the sound design is pretty damn well done, something to be expected of ’93 MegaDrive game.
The gameplay, to put it simply, is tight, responsive and perfect for this game. There’s three options regarding the shot direction, 1-Way, 2-Way and 8-Way. 8-Way makes the game only slightly less challenging, but a lot more fun. I recommend to have a working controller with, and something that has nice buttons and D-Pad. Like in any other game. The classic ABC-button controller is more than enough. Actually, I might be more comfortable with one than with my six button third party controller. There’s very little to say here. It works as intended and I haven’t met a problem that wasn’t my own error.
So, what’s left to say? The game excellent presentation, music and controls. It has a lot of content and offers a nice challenge, thou veterans might plow it through in an evening. The game can be revisited simply by its charm alone. This game was made as much for the audience as it was made for the developers themselves. The audience wanted more comical plot, more stages, better gameplay, and better game overall in the same spirit as the original. Surprisingly, we, the audience, got it. It’s a treat to get a game that has all of its values in place. It’s a rare thing to actually find one of these nowadays, but it’s rarer to see one of this kind of games actually made in modern era of video games. It has been like stepping outdoor, into fresh air after spending years in a household filled with cat litter, literally uncleaned bed and unopenable windows. Battle Mania Daiginjou is well crafted game. It’s not an interactive movie, an experience or anything else modern games try to sell themselves as. It’s a game, a damn good one at that.
It could use two-player option thou, but I don’t miss it.
The game got a ROM translation some time ago under its (possibly) intended US release name Trouble Shooter Vintage.
I’d still buy this game at full price from the devs if I could.