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RELEASE DATE (JP): December 7, 1987 GENRE: Rail-Shooter/Platformer
// review by SoyBomb

Must be a half-brother or, uh, something...

I thought I was past this. I thought that everything would be over after I finished The 3-D Battles of WorldRunner. That game transformed me from a mean, lean gaming machine to a gelatinous blob of perspiration and regret. After a five hour hardcore marathon, interspersed with bouts of sobbing openly, I managed to defeat that savage beast. I have no desire to ever revisit Solar System #517 and torture myself again. Its cartridge has since returned to my closet, never to be touched again, except to be pushed aside to see what's behind it. I thought the madness was over.

But I was wrong. Dare I say, DEAD wrong?! Little did I know, floating upon the dusty shelves of Japanese used game stores, there lies something filled with more potential terror than even The 3-D Battles of WorldRunner could ever store. That's right: there's a sequel! It's "JJ: Tobidase Daisakusen Part II," and it's frightening. (It's called Part II because, in Japan, the first game was referred to as "Tobidase Daisakusen", which roughly translates to "Battle of the Fly Away", if Google Translate is anything to go by.)

If you've read my review of The 3-D Battles of WorldRunner (and if you haven't, you're a shameful person and should do so now), you know what I think about the game. It was an interesting concept soiled by its actual execution, alongside super-cat-like reflexes as a minimum requirement and boasting more pits than a Kid Icarus convention. And then JJ: Tobidase Daisakusen Part II showed up at my door like a cold puppy looking for warmth and a free ham steak.

JJ Part II is, simply put, a slightly new skin on an older game. Instead of being "Jack the WorldRunner", you're now some fellow named J.J., possibly a relative, that also is a WorldRunner. I guess you could say it runs in the family. The game engine, and thus the goal, is exactly the same: you run forward on a pseudo-3D plane, hopping over gruff enemies and avoiding black pitfalls by making seemingly infinite leaps of faith. Actually, there seems to be fewer chasms than before. You'd think that would make the experience a little easier, but you'd be wrong. DEAD wrong. There's one little detail that makes up for this...

The entire game is on overdrive.

The main difference? A tighter uniform.

In the previous review, I wrote how, in World 7, the WorldRunner would move in double time, running twice as quickly as usual. In JJ Part II, that's your normal speed. You aren't ON speed: you ARE speed. Everything comes flying at you more quickly than your brain can process it. If you lack reflexes, you'd best just stand up, turn the power off of your Famicom, and go do something more worthwhile, like replacing the empty Kleenex boxes in your house. Admit it: you have them laying around. The boss battles are the same as well, flying around on the screen, shooting at a snake-like dragon (or a bunch of them, one after the other) that swoops between the background and foreground dramatically.

If there anything particularly "new" to this game, it's the more underworldly feel. The brighter colour schemes and chipper backgrounds have taken a back seat to a darker, dystopian feel, as though JJ is quickfooting his way through an apocalyptic set of planets, rather than lively ones rich in culture and spirit. There must have been a sale on purple ground tiles because the planets are loaded with them. As well, most of the sprites have been redesigned, though not to any notable benefit. Fire columns now look stranger than ever; I swear there was weird eyes and faces hidden within them. Enemies are just as weird as before. There are far more eyeballs roaming the plains than ever. JJ still gets to ram his face into a column to gain an item, but they're a little different now. Potions were transformed into a pair of boots, the missile is now a spaceship (making no sense considering we're not FLYING ANYTHING), and those nasty death-causing mushrooms are now simply big blue eyeballs. They definitely help you look into the future... and see your own demise!

It's... it's the same game, just made more difficult with its speed. Thankfully, they seem to have omitted one of the game mechanics that made WorldRunner a pain in the patoot: having to hop on TOP of columns to pass over pits. That's gone, and so there is indeed a silver lining to this sequel, and I do have to give it credit there. In fact, that alone increases the score by an entire point. But other than that, JJ Part II is more of the same, more of the frustration, and more of the desire to quit early.

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