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// review by SoyBomb

Plump Pop: The difficult non-soda treat!

I seem to be slowly accumulating collections of arcade games. I'm not exactly sure why, but I keep on buying them. One of the more interesting of the bunch is NOT that anus-awful Activision Classics bullplop, but the unusually variable Taito Legends, celebrating a long history of Taito-based games. And among that bunch of delicious Taito games is a strange brew, entitled "Plump Pop". Think about that for a second: Plump Pop. I don't know about any pop that makes you plump... er, wait, actually, every can of pop will make you plump. But this game has nothing to do with fattening soda beverages. It has more to do with killing puppies and kittens than anything else. Seriously. But within this odd package lies a simple concept that is quite entertaining, quite difficult to master, and quite coin-consuming.

Plump Pop sets you in the role of either pig parents, dog parents, or cat parents whose goal is simply to carry around a trampoline to bounce their newborn child all over the screen and "pop" obstacles in the air, such as balloons, flying saucers, or puffy clouds. And in the midst of this, ten cutesy yet tough bosses seem to also want your animal children to die. It's really difficult to determine exactly what is going on without a proper storyline, but I imagine it's just another prime example of nonsensical Japanese malarky. You really don't need a plot for this type of game, and considering that you're bouncing animals and watching them splat into the ground if you have poor reflexes, perhaps it's best that no storyline exists at all.

I'm not particularly proficient at this game, which makes me more than thankful that Taito Legends exists, allowing for infinite credits and infinite attempts at succeeding. I don't think I've owned enough quarters in my entire lifetime to be able to complete Plump Pop. It's not that the concept is difficult or anything -- it plays very similarly to popular brick-busting games such as Arkanoid or Breakout -- but there are so many moving entities on the screen that I become disoriented a bit frequently. At least in Arkanoid, the bricks stayed in one spot, which was more convenient. Plus your animal eventually moves so quickly that it's too damn difficult to keep track of where he will land -- this could happen within five seconds of his initial launch if you are that unlucky. And if you throw in a second player, that's twice as many player projectiles to keep an eye on. Thankfully, you can bounce both animals off of either trampoline, so you don't have to discern between the two...although keeping an eye on your own animal baby should be a high priority. And amidst these zany levels are fruit-collecting minigames for extra points, but all they do is make the game longer. And it's long enough.

Ultimately, this isn't a deep game, but it does get a bit visually complicated. One might get distracted by the cutesy nature of everything, but might also be shocked by the unusual nature of the game. The boss fights, in particular, demonstrate the clear dementia and freemindedness of the designers: they include a watermelon with jack-o-lantern eyes or cherubs that turn into green devils. Take heed of the latter, because they toss fecal coils and, if you watch very carefully, the red projectiles (when they explode) form the star of David for a split-second. You need good eyes for that one, but it's there. I'm not saying Plump Pop is the equivalent of sacrilege, but it's very odd to see that. The graphics are indeed far too cute, although the fact that your parental characters wince when their child hits the ground is a nice touch and it shows that they, somewhat. One thing you won't focus on is the music, which is more than easily forgotten.

Plump Pop is a very unusual arcade game that actually did not make its way to American shores, except perhaps via an enthusiastic arcade collector. If hitting animals with giant trampolines is your guilty pleasure, this is for you. It's also decent for fans of classic brick breaker games. It's not the best title of the genre, but it will keep you busy (and wondering why a freakish purple skull is showing up halfway through the game); plus, it's readily available on the aforementioned Taito Legends collection, which also features some other interesting games. So give it a try if you dare!

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