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CONSOLE: Game Gear DEVELOPER: Sega PUBLISHER: Sega
RELEASE DATE (JP): July 2, 1993 GENRE: Sports/Wrestling
// review by EscapeRouteBritish

Which is coincidentally what I say when I get punched in the groin.

I will admit here and now that I'm a worthless brainless gaijin idiot who doesn't know the first thing about sumo wrestling. That said I'm pretty sure you can't win in sumo wrestling by constantly headbutting your opponents into submission but Aah! Harimanada! for the Game Gear would insist the contrary. Based on the manga and anime of the same name, the game sees you assume the role of Isao Harimanada, a 6 ft tall 335-pound fat-ass, as he assumes his dominance in the manly art of knocking chubby sweat-dripping mammoths on their colossal buttocks.

The manga came along in 1991, the anime ran for a few months in 1992, and the game followed in 1993. By this point, I'm certain Harimanada Fever had long been over, but then again, who could say no to this face?

You can play this game as though it were traditional sumo wrestling if you wish, but the joy of Aah! Harimanada! comes from using your anime nonsense special moves - headbutts, slams, throws, grabs and ludicrous finishing moves, most of which probably illegal in a real sumo match. If the game had simply been an accurate depiction of the sport then I'd have likely turned away, but instead, we get this insane representation of the sport that never ceases to boggle the noggin.

In the original story, Harimanada claims he will beat the wrestler Futabayama's legendary streak of 69 consecutive wins. Nice. So obviously, the goal of the game is to win 70 times in a row, to kachi-koshi your way to the senshūraku. That's a bit daunting, especially with the lack of password system or battery save. This game also came to the Mega Drive with a password system, which makes the lack of one in the Game Gear version even more of a kick in the teeth. Game Gear limitations also result in one set of sprites for all of the wrestlers despite differences in their physical appearance, a lackluster minimal set of music tracks, and cumbersome controls.


Get it? Aah, hari-ma-nadas!

While the game runs very smoothly during combat, each match begins with an unskippable twenty second introduction where the wrestlers appear and purify the ring with salt before they begin. It's supposed to turn the dohyō into a holy place, but by the time the match is over, I'll have tsuappari'd my opponents full of holes. I can safely say most of the time spent with this game will consist of watching the starting animation; the match is usually over in mere seconds as I spam my headbutt technique ad nauseum.

If I could recommend this game to literally anyone, I might suggest this game for anyone who likes to be able to mash buttons and win every time. I never lost a match, and all I did was hold a direction and mash Button I & Button II. I'm sure there's way more cool stuff and super techniques hidden under the hood, but if you can win by simply accelerating toward your opponent and punching/kicking like a child throwing a tantrum then why bother with all the fancy stuff?


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