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// article by Jeff

OH, SO YOU CAME BACK.

Sure, I did! What made you think I wouldn't come back?

NOBODY LIKED LAST MONTH'S ARTICLE EITHER. YOU'RE DEAD WEIGHT AROUND HERE. LET MICHAEL GRAY (WRITER @ GAMECOLA) TAKE OVER.

You're quite negative, Ominous Voice. Besides, Mr. Gray is a very busy man and has no time for obscure games. You know, I don't think he even has time to say hello!

YEAH, THAT'S WHY HE DOESN'T PAY ANY ATTENTION. ALL RIGHT, WHAT MONSTROSITY DID YOU BRING THIS MONTH? WAIT — LET ME GUESS: AN OBSCURE GAME STARRING BARNEY THE DINOSAUR.

Not quite, but you're on the right track, dear annoyant! Actually, this game does star a purple dinosaur, but it's not the one that American kids were brainwashed by. This month's feature title is Asmik-kun Land for the Famicom (or the Japanese version of the NES, for those not in the know). It actually stars a purplish dragon named Asmik-kun, occasionally known as Boomer overseas. And unlike our one-fingered friend Barnard the Dinosaur, you can't see Asmik-kun's zipper.

AM I INTRIGUED YET? NO.

Ah, but I haven't even told you anything about this game. Only after that can you declare your intrigue or lack thereof. In this very colourful game, you star as Asmik-kun (uncreatively named after the publisher, Asmik), whose goal is to scoot around the (also undesirably named) Asmik Land and collect six fragments to awaken the Dragon King, who will then bring joy and harmony to the land. That's pretty much it. If you expected a stronger story, go play Blaster Master. So Asmik-kun shuffles around a map and visits different themed areas to collect those fragments: earth, water, silver, wood, rock, and... white poplar?! Huh. Well, leave it to Asmik-kun to boast an arsenal of wood.

I'LL BET THIS GAME PLAYS LIKE A RIGOR MORTIS RACCOON.

Good call. Actually, this game plays really slowly compared to most other platformers, which makes relatively short levels appear to take practically forever to complete. He's made of molasses and runs like slightly jarred constipation. That is to say, it's not efficient travel. He even swims as quickly as he runs — who does that?! And his main attack is a kick that fires what appears to be either a round cloud or an unlit light bulb from his anus. Those familiar with the game will say it's a tail kick, but I argue otherwise. If you defeat an enemy, it will typically drop an egg. When you reach the end of a level, a sign falls on Asmik-kun that reads "NEXT," and he goes on to a second level afterward, just to rub it in. Luckily, the map is very open-ended, so you can tackle the levels in any order you wish.

I'LL BET THE BOSSES ARE PRETTY DAMN TOUGH TO KILL WITH JUST A RECTAL VAPOUR CLOUD. ...THERE ARE BOSS FIGHTS, RIGHT?

Yes and no. Actually, they took a page from Alex Kidd, which is a huge mistake for anybody. That series was terrible, and "Alex Kidd and the Enchanted Castle" was what I consider to be the worst of the bunch, which is exactly where they went. After each pair of levels, you do meet up with a boss who challenges you ... to a chintzy game of Rock/Paper/Scissors! You and the foe are trying to get to opposite ends of a winding maze, so you are basically running along until you meet up with the enemy. When you do, you'll have to beat him at that game of choice, and whoever loses gets pushed back a distance. Here's a friendly hint: just choose Scissors every time, because every boss has an extremely strong tendency to select Paper all the time. It's just like the friend you know who always picks Rock. Nothing beats Rock, right? Also, if you lose the little duel, your total egg count from the previous two levels drop by a bit -- when you hit zero, you'll be sent back to the previous level to traverse that again. And you don't have six hours to spare, so it's best to win the boss "fight" on the first try. When you win, you will also get one of the fragments plus an opportunity to shop for cool goods, such as Haste which (thankfully) makes you faster (though this should always be true), and Bird Form, where you can fly around for a bit. That's as wonderful as it can get.

DOES THIS GAME HAVE ANYTHING GOOD GOING FOR IT?

Well... the graphics are interesting. Do you see the way that they just decided to make everything all pastel and absolutely random? Isn't that awesome?

SHOULD I TRY AND FIND IT?

Probably not, but if you're a collector, it's definitely something different. Though for the less ambitious purchaser who doesn't have a Famicom, you're somewhat in luck -- the Game Boy semi-sequel, "Boomer's Adventures in ASMIK World", was released overseas, courtesy of Asmik Corporation of America (who no longer exists, probably because they thought we wanted an Asmik-kun game really badly... and we didn't). Asmik-kun Land actually could have been a good platformer if the character didn't run at the speed of tumor growth, and if Rock/Paper/Scissors play wasn't mandatory. But as it stands, it's just a oft-forgotten memory in the minds of Japanese gamers.

I hear Expedia has a decent rate for traveling to Asmik Land. Don't take it.

UGH... YOU'D BETTER DELIVER SOMETHING DECENT NEXT MONTH, OR I'LL SKEWER YOU.

I make no promises. And a skewering sounds delightful.


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