Tenchi Muyo! Game Hen - Reader Retroview  

Replay Muyo!
by JuMeSyn

6-12 hours
Click here for scoring definitions 

   Tenchi Muyo has taken several forms in the anime world thanks to not-necessarily connected OVA series', spin-off series, movies, an alternate plotline series, and doubtless more that I haven't explored. They all have some basic elements in common however. Masaki Tenchi is a young man who finds himself the center of attention of two women (primarily): Jurai Ayeka, who is the princess of the Jurai family which exerts enormous influence upon galactic affairs, and Ryoko the powerful space pirate. Ayeka's younger sister Sasami is around also, as is Washu the maker/mother of Ryoko and an incredibly gifted scientist who is also several thousand years old, along with Mihoshi the archetypal blonde ditz who is somehow a member of the Galactic Police. Ryo-ohki, Ryoko's spaceship that usually is in the form of a cat/rabbit with a predilection for carrots, cannot really speak but figures in also. Explaining the entire mythos of Tenchi Muyo will take quite awhile, but the focus of the various iterations is usually more upon light comedy and drama than action even though most of the characters do have extraordinary powers and the need to wield them.

   It is this possession of extraordinary powers and their wielding that makes Tenchi Muyo Game-Hen begin. A day at the Masaki family grounds begins like most others, with Sasami contentedly making breakfast for everyone while Ryoko and Ayeka fight over Tenchi. Things change a bit when some monsters pop in, and they change a bit more when a woman named Shizuki abducts Sasami. Such a thing cannot be tolerated, so Tench, Ayeka, Ryoko and Mihoshi take off in pursuit to the spaceship Shizuki came on, fighting things and picking up further allies from the Tenchi Muyo cast on the way. In the spaceship they find Sasami and Washu, then meet up with the true architect of this scheme, a rival of Washu's named Kusumi. Upon beating Kusumi she flees to the moon with Ryoko, necessitating a trip up to the moon for the settling of accounts - with Shizuki coming along because she was under Kusumi's control earlier.

I didn’t know you actually could get water from the moon…. I didn’t know you actually could get water from the moon….

   That's it. Save for a bit of squabbling and the recruiting of extra characters, I have written out the entire story. A story fit for an episode or two of the Tenchi Universe series perhaps, but hardly adequate for an RPG.

   In navigating the environs of the game, the group will run into a tactical battle at every map juncture. And I mean every juncture, with areas previously visited having the same battle waiting. The player will select four characters to enter into battle with no more than four enemies simultaneously, and the two sides go at it via an isometric perspective. As tactical titles go options are pretty sparse; a character can move, attack, or sit still.

   The system isn't quite THAT sparse, since energy does charge up with every turn. Two units of energy per character's turn charge, up to a maximum of 8. Different attacks use varying amounts of energy per turn, with the different attacks/abilities being learned by going up a level. After reaching level 3 each character (save Shizuki) has the ability to transform (based upon the anime) with different and more powerful attacks being accessible. The caveat is that energy does not regenerate when transformed.

Ryoko knows how to teleport the entire screen into space, but since robots don’t breathe still has to administer pain. Ryoko knows how to teleport the entire screen into space, but since robots don’t breathe still has to administer pain.

   Experience is NOT earned in this game, at least not in any form I've ever seen. Instead of enemies coughing up experience points, a level is gained by killing a certain number of enemies apparently. And the maximum level is 8 for every character. There are no items, no weapons, and no money to be concerned with. The only interaction issue has to do with the somewhat sluggish feel of the cursor in combat, but since this is a turn-based tactical title that can be accommodated. Otherwise the lack of things to interact with makes the subject a non-issue.

   Challenge is not an issue either. With so few levels to gain, each one makes a big difference to a character. The few bosses are fairly powerful but do not move, making their defeat rather easy to achieve. At level 8 the final battles are easy, with the only challenge being the need to walk back and forth to power up the party with the same battles. Someone plowing through the game with extraordinary luck could probably complete it in 4 hours, but pumping up four characters to level 8 won't take more than 10 hours most likely, 12 at the outside. And there is no reason for replay whatsoever.

   Aesthetically the game is acceptable, no more. Graphics look like fairly generic Super Famicom material featuring Tenchi Muyo characters, with nothing demonstrating what the machine could produce when pushed. Aurally the music is pretty good, with a strong Tenchi feel, it just lacks variety (perhaps 10 tracks in the whole game and no final boss theme). A bit of voice acting exists from the seiyuu who perform the characters, but again the lack of variety hurts after a bit.

   Tenchi Muyo Game-Hen is not execrable, just very dry. The game's pace lags frequently, which is unacceptable in a title that lasts less than 10 hours. Battling gets boring very quickly thanks to the repetition necessary. Perhaps if Kiyone had been present the game would have been a little better - but that's unlikely. The shortness is only made tolerable by the lack of interesting content to inspire further play.

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