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RELEASE DATE (JP): February 10, 2000 GENRE: Card Battler/RPG
// review by SoyBomb

Cho better believe it!

You may have heard of the Cho Aniki series, that bunch of truly bizarre shooters filled with more scantily clad muscle men than an Olympics swimming team. The very first Cho Aniki game appeared on the PC Engine CD-ROM add-on in Japan only, with subsequent entries into the series being released on the PC Engine, Super Famicom, Sega Saturn, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PSP, and yeah, even mobile phones. Only two of the games have made it overseas: Cho Aniki: Kyuukyoku Muteki Ginga Saikyou Otoko was released as a Japanese PSOne Classic on the PSN, and Aksys Games found it in their hearts to localize Cho Aniki Zero on the PSP. I highly doubt any of them were million-sellers.

But there was one other Cho Aniki game... this one's for the Bandai WonderSwan, our beloved handheld that never left Japan. Cho Aniki: Otoko no Tamafuda was released on February 10, 2000, and it is one of the few games of the series that strays entirely from the shooter genre. In fact, it's an RPG! Holy Aniki, Batman! The title translates to "Super Big Brother: Spirit Man Tag"... that's certainly interesting. "Tamafuda" is an amalgamation of tamashii, meaning "soul", and hanafuda, a card game... though it's extremely likely there's a double entendre at play, as tama can also refer to... BALLS...

Clothing optional.

Using the protagonists of Cho Aniki games past, they gather together to journey out into the world for a wonderful and likely goofball-ish quest in space where they fight their enemies not with bullets but via card battles. From your deck (which, presumably, grows over the course of the game as you interact with muscle-bound townsfolk), you draw a card, and the enemy counters it with its own, back and forth until someone is defeated. Additional cards can be added to your collection by competing in the game's Versus Mode.

You can also expect some odd humour, as the series is typically known for not taking itself seriously EVER. Maybe that's why there's a "Feelings" option in the menu where you can listen to your characters' inner thoughts about pointless topics. Its heavy reliance on text does make this one a tough challenge for anyone who can't read Japanese. i.e. ME.

The game looks decent, though it's nothing spectacular. When simply wandering in the overworld, there isn't much detail; all the snappy pixel art comes when you're actually battling with cards. Likewise, the music also is pleasant and a little wacky, but nothing that you'll be writing home to Mother about!

If you came in expecting another oddball shooter, you'd be very disappointed. I can only recommend this game if you: a) enjoy card-battling games; b) like weird and occasionally perverted Japanese humour; and c) can read Japanese. Otherwise, this probably won't even be remotely up your alley, in which case, move on...

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