When we are looking at the sheer magnitude of early '90s anime games, they seem to mostly appear on the Super Famicom. The system must have been the go-to one-stop-shop for all the weird and wonderful that TV had to offer back in the day. That's true about America, too, because nobody was asking for a Home Improvement game, or at least, they shouldn't have been.
You're probably familiar with the Sailor Moon or Dragon Ball Z franchises, at least enough to know they're popular, but what I find really shocking is how many animated series, based off obscure source manga, were translated into video game form. How could one animated short result in three games? Just ask Banpresto. Hey, it worked for Go! Go! Ackman.
Before we can go any further, we need a quick explanation of Taisen Puzzle-dama. This is Konami's puzzle game series. Every company has at least one (SEGA has Columns and Puyo Pop, Nintendo has Dr. Mario and Panel de Pon). Konami's puzzler has two distinct types of pieces — smiley facesand smiley faces encased in some sort of block. When you combine three or more normal pieces, they disappear. Any encased pieces directly touching those you just popped are released from their captivity. The trick is to make combos by having pieces drop off other pieces that were popped or to activate encased pieces at the right time to trigger combos off them.
It all sounds pretty exciting, right? I can see you making that tumbleweed motion, and I sure as hell forgot we were playing charades. How can you ever make explaining a puzzle game entertaining? You drop the things on the things, stuff happens, shift ends at 4:30 p.m., let's go bowling, ha ha.
So what makes this particular entry in Konami's lesser known puzzle game series so important? Well, it isn't important, but, you know. It's tied into Tsuyoshi Shikkari Shinasai, a manga serialization that was turned into an animated series, which aired between '92 and '94. This puts it slap-bang in the middle of the Super Famicom's life span. It ran for 112 episodes, but good luck finding any information about it online. It tells the story of Tsuyoshi, who after his father's disappearance (I guess, like I said, barely any info around) is forced to do the housework and chores while his domineering sister and mother do everything in their power to destroy his life.
I don't see Yoshi anywhere. This game lied to me!
Yeah, something about that slice-of-lime comedy-drama and a cheap Puyo Pop knockoff, it just seems to make sense together. Like peanut butter and avocado. I think it would be extremely safe to assume Konami had the rights to produce a game based on this anime but didn't want to do anything that took substantial effort, so they just reskinned an old game.
The main game content is packed into the first two modes, one of which is a 1P vs. Com face-off through each opponent in the game. The second is a 1P vs. Com face-off through each opponent in the game but with cutscenes! To add to the Puyo similarities, you also get a carbon copy of the practice mode from those games, but it gives you a better chance to see the excellent-looking character portraits in the game. There is also the extremely predictable 1P vs. 2P mode — nothing out of the ordinary.
Tsuyoshi Shikkari Shinasai roughly translates to "hang in there". This single-player "story mode" is where the "hang in there" comes into effect. These stages are so hard they have me chewing my fingernails, experiencing the utmost stress. A relentless barrage of combos hits from the computer-controlled opponent before I even have time to acknowledge what is coming my way. Pelted, smashed, crushed, in a mere few seconds. I don't know about you, but I play games where the challenge is genuine, not artificial. What the hell even is this?
As I am losing, the game shouts, "Ganbare!" That's "do your best" in Japanese. Don't be fooled: even if you do your best, you won't win.
Story Mode's most creative twist is that you play as Tsuyoshi throughout but unlock new attack patterns by beating enemies. All the attack patterns you earn suck. I have fought computer opponents who have laid the smack down on me, and yet, when I defeat them, I don't earn their attack pattern. Either way, when you persevere through the story, Tsuyoshi kisses some girl and runs away with her. The end.
I'm sure if you were a fan of the show during the '90s you'd find it cool, but all-in-all what we have here is an uninteresting, short-lived puzzle game with no truly redeeming features or longevity (outside of the outrageous difficulty level). Besides a fairly melodic soundtrack that makes good use of the Super Famicom sound chip, the majority of this experience is down to the core gameplay of Taisen Puzzle-Dama. In other words, you could be playing any other game in Konami's puzzler series and be getting exactly the same experience (and a shoddy experience at that).
Tsuyoshi Shikkari Shinasai is short, lacks replay value, and is pretty much just an obscure game that never left Japanese shores. There's nothing much else to say.