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BAkuen SAkuru
(Hyper Anime)


"A Flying Schoolgirl that'd Make Capcom Proud!"

Dreams, revenge, and Pork. It's all part of the preparation for Sakuru, a young schoolgirl with a big tournament coming up in a week's time. But when Sakuru refuses to pay Bano the fortune teller for his services, it's Bano that hops into the machine and invades Sakuru in her dreams!

Just as she wakes up, Sakuru makes even more enemies after eating some really bad pork. When she spits it out, an army of pork foes armed with bacon arrive and fight back! With three levels in all, can Sakuru make it through this training alive so she can enter the great tournament?

Graphics (n.)
The use of animation and visual effects to stimulate the senses
(Very Good)
Once again, Hyper Anime does wonders in the graphics category by mixing well-animated demo sequences with a good ratio of high-quality ingame graphics. Also, the game is flickerless (much in difference to Hyper Anime's Puzzle Bomber series).

Since there are so many QB shooters out there though, it's very hard to have a new one ready without making direct comparisons between them. In terms of Graphics, BAkuen SAkuru are a little on the choppy side. But this is forgiven somewhat by the fact that there are so many on-screen enemies moving at once. No other QB shooter (let alone QB game) even comes close to the sheer number of enemies on-screen at the same time, and even though the graphics aren't pixel-by-pixel movement, it's very playable and still quite addictive.

Sound/Music (n.)
The smooth blend of atmospheric sounds and original harmonies
Considering that this game does excel in the Sound/Music category because of the sheer number of sound effects and music featured, it's a bit surprising that it's also BAkuen SAkuru's low point. I believe the problem here is just the way the sound effects and music blend in terms of volume. The music is unoriginal but a little refreshing. However, whenever a sound effect plays out it seems to override the music and is a pain to the ears, disrupting the flow of the music. In the end, I found the game a little more enjoyable with my Sound Blaster speakers on mute.
Gameplay (n.)The precision of control and involvement of character within its universe vvv
BAkuen SAkuru is your typical shooter, with a twist. Instead of playing a ship, you fly around as a schoolgirl, getting ready for a tournament of some sort. During each level, you use the arrow keys to move and press the Control key to shoot enemies (basically everything you see is an enemy). While shooting down enemies with standard weapon will get you far, sometimes there are some enemies that are so strong that better firepower is needed. Thankfully, BAkuen SAkuru comes with such a remedy, in the form of a meter.

This special meter fills up in the game depending on the number of enemies you shoot down. Then, you can press the Alt key to unleash a special weapon depending on how full your meter is. With this system, you can tap into three extra weapons, including the powerful and screen-covering love love heart snake! This is easily the largest weapon ever made in a QB game, and it packs as much of a wallop to the eyes as to anything that stands in its path.

Story (n.)
The creativity and presentation of the game's critical plot
Good. Japanimation and shooter fans will both have a lot to appreciate from BAkuen SAkuru. For one, it's yet another QB game with a female heroine instead of a man (and also the third Hyper Anime game to feature a female as the lead character of the game!) Also, in typical Hyper Anime tradition, there are many non-disruptive and wonderfully animated cutscenes between each of the game's levels. The cartoon-like, flickerless animation is all thanks to an FLC player especially designed for QB and a lot of extra work done by Hyper Anime.

What probably would have helped in this category is a little more story development and polish during the game's demos. The English isn't quite perfect, and a little more could have been done to give the game's story some flow. Copy Rezo, the main programmer of Hyper Anime, does cite the story problem due to the fact that the story demos were made in a day.

By the way, if you get past the first level, you'll learn why BAkuen SAkuru instantly received an "M" rating, although the rest of the game doesn't really have much profanity, violence, or whatnot. It's proof that all you need is one crazy scene to move your game's demographics by a long shot. It's actually pretty good in terms of graphics and you have to see it to believe it.

Replay Value (n.)
The timelessness of the gamer's delight, such that the experience can be repeated again and again
BAkuen SAkuru is pretty much at the standard when it comes to replay value. If shooters are your favorite type of QB game, this addition will probably fit nicely with your copy of Monospace, Shell Shock, Mooncrap, Project: Zeta, Dynamic, and whatever other QB games you happen to have laying around in your hard drive. But BAkuen SAkuru has a different appeal since the gameplay and look of the game is different from other QB shooters!

Again, the sound and the graphics are probably where BAkuen SAkuru could shine a little more. The audio isn't quite to the point that it's absorbing yet but the gameplay is quite solid and all it's own compared to other QB shooters. Also, since the game has a pretty decent challenge level throughout, it's a little hard to put this game down once you've started it.

Challenge (v.)
To strike the mental nerve in such a way as to stimulate human thought and reflexes
From the first level up, you'll be quick to notice that BAkuen SAkuru's enemies rely more on sheer quantity than speed to defeat you. The game is not shy about having dozens of on-screen enemies at the same time, and if you spend the whole time trying to dodge the enemies instead of blasting back at them and filling your power meter, you're going to enter an early grave.

The key to winning in BAkuen SAkuru is persistence. Know where to stand your ground, then fire your weapons as much as you possibly can. Make you you learn about your cannon's special powers, including the ability to shoot a snake-like stream, and the rare shooting ability of firing to the rear. Also note that some baddies in the game are invulnerable to your attacks.

The bosses also prove to be a challenge in BAkuen SAkuru, and are probably the most elaborate bosses ever made in a QB shooter yet. The first level boss, the insane fortune teller Bano, has attacks that literally cover the entire screen. So you're going to have to do a lot of jerking around while making sure that you can maintain your own offense. Once you beat the first boss though, you should have enough skill to beat the other two.

Fun Factor (n.)
The overall entertainment value as maintained throughout the adventure
Average. Perhaps this is a matter of personal preference, but when I play side-by-side shooters I always prefer the "Gradius" approach of gaming best, where there are loads of power-ups and score bonuses so that there's always a reason to go back to play another game (a.k.a to beat your high score or find hidden bonuses). BAkuen SAkuru doesn't have either of these features, but does shine in other aspects. There's no score system, and weapon power-ups are created if you can shoot down enough bad guys to charge a meter. The game itself is fine the way it is, but it sure could have used one feature or the other.

Still, BAkuen SAkuru is incredibly tight. There are always a lot of on-screen enemies at a time, and the screen is literally covered with enemy swarms and your own firepower, especially when you learn to charge your weapons. If you like the kind of shooter where you have to find hiding places and shift from place to place constantly all while seeing how many enemies you can shoot down, then BAkuen SAkuru will do you right.

BAkuen SAkuru Reviewed by Vance Velez

Players 1 player Genre: Arcade Game
Rating To solve: 3-5 hours Final Rating: 20/35

To download this game, click here.
Installation Tip
wTo play BAkuen SAkuru, unzip the file and run "SAKURU.BAT".

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