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// article by Jeff

If you are playing this, you are no smarter than a mouse.

Meet Huan Le Tao Qi Shu, known to the small sect of English speakers who enjoy bootleg games of a questionable caliber as "Smart Mouse", was created mostly by employees of Chuanpu, a Taiwan-based company that focused on unlicensed games for the Mega Drive in the 1990s. (Remember their big hit "Barver Battle Saga: Tai Kong Zhan Shi"? Of course you don't.) It's not easy to come by, and even trying could cost you a pretty penny. And that pretty penny would be very much wasted.

Upon start-up, you know something is going to be unusual as a purple blob creature is being chased by a mouse pushing a gold brick on the title screen. It's colourful, yes, but games of this era starring purely animals often end in grave misfortune. And that's exactly how Smart Mouse is going to turn out.

The gameplay itself is very reminiscent of many games before it — Pengo, Pirate Ship Higemaru, the Adventures of Lolo games — and really doesn't throw anything new into the mix aside from a fresh coat of paint. Each stage dumps our Rodentian hero into a cramped arena filled with blocks and enemies all over the place (the first stage starts out with six enemies roaming around at once). Using your brute strength, you're tasked with pushing the blocks around the trap and squash all the weird cartoonish foes. What happens if you can't move a block when you try to kick it? It disappears. There are a number of manholes around as well; defeating an enemy causes another one to immediately pop up from below, so you're never have fewer creatures on screen and will be constantly dashing around. To complete a stage, you're given a set number of enemies to kill.

On a positive note, there's no timer I can see, so at least you're in no hurry to escape those crusty fiends!

If the game wasn't derivative enough, the music is yoinked from multiple sources. The little jingle that introduces and concludes stages comes from Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair, while other tunes come from the bootleg Pac-Man clone "The Universe Soldiers" on Famicom and "Don't Pull", another game identical in style to Smart Mouse by Capcom, included as part of its "Three Wonders" arcade compilation game.

Admittedly, I'm not a fan of these types of games, but if you're a player who enjoys arcade-style action-puzzlers, Smart Mouse DOES deliver. But the better option (unless you really want a rare bootleg and an emptier bank account) is to simply snag any of the other games mentioned in this article. They're more easily found and for a lesser price. There's no need to go broke just to push bricks around.


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