Note: This game was played on a PC Engine Duo that has been modded for component video. It was played on a 40-inch HD-tv.
Brief History: Genji Tsushin Agedama was released for the PC Engine in Japan in 1991. The game was never released in the United States for the Turbografx-16, the PC Engine counterpart. It is based on a short-lived Japanese anime from the early 1990s.
Genre: Platformer/Run n’ Gun hybrid
Language Barrier? No. Although there is Japanese in the story intro and Japanese on the gaming screen, there is nothing to prevent you from easily playing and enjoying this game.
Story: From what I can gather, Genji, the character you play as, is a young man who has the ability to transform into the superhero Agedama when needed. Along with his flying robot Wapuro (who accompanies Agedama in-game when his icon is picked up), Agedama battles against the minions of an evil being whose goal is to turn humans into monsters.
Other characters: Other characters from the show appear, including Ibuki Heike, a young lady who is in love with Genji and appears once per level to replenish your health. Additionally, Katchi (male) and Mika (female) are another young couple who show up in a later stage to harass Genji.
Overview: Genji Tsushin Agedama is six levels long, and could generally be beaten in around 35 minutes. The majority of the stages slowly autoscroll forward, with Genji constantly running. Exceptions to this include boss fights, which take place on stationary screens, and half of stage 5 and all of stage 6, which allow the player to progress at their own discretion, like a standard platformer. While advancing forward in each stage, the player fires away at a variety of enemies with blasts from his hands, or jumps or rolls to dodge enemies.
Control: Button II shoots small fireballs (holding the button then releasing fires a charged shot), Button I jumps (holding up plus Button I executes a high jump), and pressing diagonal/forward quickly rolls Agedama forward, which is used to evade, attack, or become invincible against enemy attacks (more on this below).
Super Attacks: As you progress through each stage, you’ll pick up icons that allow you to charge more powerful Super Attacks. The longer you hold Button II, the more powerful your attack. At the top of the screen are five orbs – Red, Blue, Green, Purple, and Yellow. As you hold Button II, they become grey, and when you release the button on a particular orb, you’ll get a corresponding Super Attack, from a tornado, to genies that fly and attack enemies, to power waves, to lightning, to a screen-filling Atomic Bomb attack! You can use Super Attacks limitlessly. Sometimes you’ll have to experiment with each attack, as some bosses are more susceptible to particular Super Attacks than others.
Health: You have eight hearts per life, and only one life per credit (you have credits, or continues, if you die, and you start back at the beginning of the level – no checkpoints). Every time you take a hit, you loose a heart. However, enemies often drop health pickups (red icons) to replenish one unit of health, and Ibuki appears once per stage (touch the green rabbit creature to see her) to fully replenish your health.
Stages and Enemies: The six stages include a city, a river, a desert, a cave, a mountain, and the sky. In each stage, you’ll battle wave after wave of bizarre enemies, from flying chickens, to ghosts, to anthropomorphic volcanoes. Each stage has a mid-boss and a big boss to fight. Most stages have a bit of platforming mixed in, which usually involves a bit of jumping across chasms. If you fall in a pit, however, it’s not Game Over – your character simply looses a heart and is thrown back up onto a platform.
The importance of rolling: The roll move should be utilized in every stage, and particularly boss fights. Your character moves twice as fast along the screen, making dodging a cinch, you become invincible to being hit while in motion, and you can attack enemies when you connect with them!
Cheat Code: On the title screen, hold Button I and Button II and press Select. You’ll access a cheat screen in Japanese, although it’s easy to figure things out quickly. You can adjust your character’s health (you can lower the number of hearts you get, or increase them up to ten), you can adjust your allowed Continues up to nine, or choose your stage from any of the six. There’s also a sound test.
High Score: The game doesn’t have a ‘Top 5’ type high score screen, but you do have a running point total on the game screen, and you get points for everything you kill and big points at the end of stages. At the end of the game, you’ll see your final total displayed, so the game can be played to see how high your score can be by the end of the game.
The Southern Gentleman’s Opinion and Letter Grade: A+ If this game had been the pack-in game with the Turbografx-16 years ago instead of the mediocre Keith Courage in Alpha Zones, the Turbografx-16 may have had a better chance in the U.S. Well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but this game is amazing! I was pleasantly surprised at just how good it is. It’s a bit on the easy side, but even as you learn how to beat some of the more challenging later-stage bosses, you never get to the point of ‘throw the controller’ frustration – it keeps you coming back without that level of lunacy. The colors, music, control, and moderate challenge all combine to become, in my opinion, an instant classic for the PC Engine. I’ve played many games for the system, and Genji Tsushin Agedama is, by great lengths in my opinion, in the top ten percent.