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RELEASE DATE (JP): 1996 GENRE: Platformer/Shooter
// review by EscapeRouteBritish

Make your kitty purrrrrrikura...

This game is a spin-off from Atlus' fighting game series, Power Instinct. Clara appears in this, her own game, along with her sister, and her love interest (who was transformed into a cat, but more on that in a moment.) The Oxford Comma there was quite important, as I didn't want to imply her sister is her love interest, though this is Japan we're talking about. The game was developed on ST-V hardware, so in other words, Sega Saturn hardware. The console port was therefore inevitable and also very authentic.

The story of the game is kind of convoluted, so stick with me here. The Miracle World (oh please...) has been invaded by the "Scrap Empire", the Queen of Miracle World has been kidnapped, and all the peaceable citizens of Miracle World have been turned into animals and trapped inside robots. Sounds like a plan cooked up by Doctor Eggman. The only person who could have realistically defeated the Scrap Empire, Grey O'Brien (a.k.a. Awesome McCoolname), has been transformed into a cat. (See, told you we'd cover that.)

Before his transformation, Grey was told by the Queen that the only method of defeating the Scrap Empire now is if he can locate the "Miracle Gem". Grey, by chance, meets up with Clara and Kirara, tells them the plan, and the three of them set off to collect the Miracle Gem and bring an end to the Scrap Empire's tyrannical reign. The action takes place in eight-directions while you play one of three characters: Clara, Kirara, and Grey. Using Button 1, your character can shoot in the direction that they are facing. Clara shoots stars, Kirara shoots icicles, and Grey spits out fireballs from his mouth. Holding the button down will make them continue to fire but allow them to strafe in any direction while firing. Button 2 is a stronger attack, also limited to one direction, but has the added benefit that it can knock back projectiles. Clara swings a large hammer, Kirara lays the smack-down with a spiked-ball on a stick, and Grey uses his massive claws.

You'll feel right at home if you want to settle the dispute between angels and machines.

As you defeat enemies with shots, they turn into animals. Collecting animals increases your score and charges up your explosive "bomb" moves. They also count towards an end of stage goal that, if completed, strengthens your fairy ally. The bomb moves are performed by your ally, so the stronger they are, the stronger your explosive ability is.

The presentation is top notch, but I have come to expect nothing less from Atlus. The music is pleasant, the sound effects are cute and fitting, and the sound design comes off as polished. The graphics are sweet and colorful but grey and moody when they need to be. The art style is a little bit mixed; some of the character portraits don't look as impressive as others, but that inconsistency is in the credit roll, when the player would have probably walked away from the machine anyway. The bosses are a spectacle and the reason I'd suggest for giving this game a run. The range of bosses includes robot spiders, a gunship, and a massive animatronic fire-breathing dragon, just to name about half of them. They're all pretty impressive and round off each stage well.

This game is definitely worth playing, and I consider it a shame that the only way to play the game legitimately is by importing the Sega Saturn version. ATLUS should consider re-releasing the arcade version on a digital service like Steam, so that it can be enjoyed to the level it deserves to be.

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