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RELEASE DATE (JP): June 23, 1995 GENRE: Platformer/Beat-'em-up
// review by EscapeRouteBritish

Should you be Bram-STOKED to play this..?

This story-driven arcade-style brawler is an interesting obscure treat. Released on a console with an emphasis on CD-based content, and yet, the game contains no animated cutscenes or complex audio quirks. Ninja Gaiden on NES contains more animation in its cutscenes; you've been outclassed, Renny. Can I call you Renny? No? Okay.

Renny Blaster is top-heavy, like at some point in development the project changed from a side-scrolling fighting game into a choose-your-own-adventure, ending up somewhere in the middle and all confused about itself. Kind of like that time I walked into the hairdressers expecting a haircut and came out wearing a frock on my head. (I never did figure out how that happened, by the way.)

When I fired up Renny Blaster, I thought I'd started another gothic-themed PC Engine game by mistake. Most reviews draw attention to how closely Renny Blaster resembles a particular horror game series, so I will refrain from naming it. The similarities between Renny Blaster and an entry in the aforementioned far more famous and well-respected horror platformer franchise are pretty potent. The awkward movement when turning is quite telling of its influences, the staircases leading between different floors are just as frustrating as they are in Konami's 2D horror adventure series from which this game clearly cribs. The death pits are in such bothersome places — merely the start of the similarities. The "Hammer" setting, the devil worship and European gothic theme makes it all the more blatant — as does starting the game with a long cutscene of some old men at a table discussing something.

Face it, it does look like Castlewhatsit.

Renny Blaster was definitely made in the same vania of another series...

The only thing missing is the gothic orchestral soundtrack, a surprising absentee (given the medium). In its place, a shambles of a music score unsure of what genre it wants to be — messy and interchangeable, nothing memorable. The sound is always a point of interest with the PC Engine CD: is the CD medium used to great effect? It seems as though, unfortunately, that isn't the case this time. The majority of the space goes towards the out-of-sync dialogue, in pure CD quality Redbook audio. Even though the voiceovers are poorly done, at least they're clear.

Renny Blaster has two main characters — according to the Internet, one is Fujihiro, the other, I'unno, Lenny? — and they're actually sort of interesting. Both characters have a wide array of moves, which can be added to by collecting not-so hidden scrolls in each stage. Being a PC Engine game, the controls have to be creatively applied to only two main face buttons. Because of this, your moves are selected by holding down the attack button to charge them up, or by performing various rolls, jumping moves and dashing skills that can all lead into other attacks. Although I was presented with seemingly twenty or thirty moves, I only really appeared to use about two or three, one of those being Foodgey-Hero's overpowered roll, which makes short work of most enemies and bosses. That said, the combat (while being clunky) is fun, and taking out a boss is satisfying — if only to listen to the poor voiceover of them spluttering blood while trying to talk.

You know what? For a game that feels rushed, this isn't terrible. Graphical glitches plague some of the later boss battles, and I swear these are not an emulation issue as they happened in both Ootake and Magic Engine. I'd love to test the game on actual hardware, but Renny Blaster is obscure and with a price tag to match. Should the game ever reach a digital distribution service, such as the PlayStation Network, I would still thoroughly recommend it. Sure, the levels can be a bit bleak and empty, the game was a damn near fun trek through some familiar Bram Stoker territory. Oh, and some more unusual places like the Airport Baggage Handling Area because, heck, why not. Oh, and you get to visit Copenhagen, too. I've always wanted to go there. I wonder if they have weird vampire ladies, just like this game says.

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