Thursday, 2 May 2013

Too weird for the west? Part 2: Shounen Ashibe

The cuteness knows no bounds...
Today sees me back on the trail of interesting Japanese games that never saw the light of day outside of their homeland, and also back again with a Super Famicom platform game.

Now if (for some reason) you've been searching for the cutest game ever, then you can probably rein in the hounds and call the hunt off right now, because Shounen Ashibe is going take some beating. Developed by Nova Games (the same studio responsible for the rather lovely Xandra's Big Adventure), it features a ridiculously cute seal cub named Syo as the main character, and his mission (I swear) is to wander around a theme park of sorts collecting chicks, apples and baby rabbits. Those of a Call of Duty disposition should probably grab a bucket at this point...

Yay for parallax scrolling!
Given that this game was one of the earlier Super Famicom releases (way back in 1992), it's genuinely impressive to find it full of neat graphical touches, the likes of which were often lacking in these smaller scale efforts. The levels, though a bit empty at times are especially pretty, and help show off a decent portion of the machine's potential, with swanky parallax backgrounds and vivid design. The main focus though is rightly on Syo, and the little seal dishes up a hat-full of adorable animations (along with squeaks), the best of which is surely when he hangs off a ledge waggling his flippers.

In between stages there are entertaining water based bonus levels to take part in, which help to keep things fresh. Though never particularly trying, they do add to the game's overall appeal and fun factor. There's also an RPG style over-world, (akin to Light Fantasy or Chaos Seed) where you can talk to people, progress the game and probably find out what's going on in the story...unfortunately I don't yet read Japanese so it makes no sense to me, looks nice though!

Far too happy given his current location...
Syo's adventure differs slightly from the common platform fare of 'reach the exit' by requiring the player to collect a certain number of items before the end of each level. this involves head-butting things to find said goods and at one point even heading basketballs into the open mouth of a hippo (so run of the mill, I know). Again, not revolutionary by any stretch but definitely a plus point.

Despite it’s overly cute appearance, Shounen Ashibe is a refreshingly deep and thoroughly enjoyable platform romp. It’s not exactly the last word in 2D hop and bob, but it is very easy to fall in love with ...that is if you can stomach all the cuteness. And this actually got me thinking, if there existed in 1992, the large amount of young female gamers that we see today, then this off-beat little gem may well have been granted passage out of Japan.

I do love a good over-world! 
Although it still saddens me that it took over 15 years to get my mitts on this game, it has definitely been a case of better late than never! And if like me, you simply can't resist the kawaii stuff then Shounen Ashibe is an absolute must...even if it is a bit tough to track down these days.

Shouldn't be funny but is...
If you enjoyed this post, then you might also enjoy Too weird for the west? Part 1: Gegege no Kitaro


  1. Didn't even know this game existed before now. Very, very cute, as you say. If it's fun, too, count me in. Although, I'm guessing this isn't a very challenging affair?

    1. I think there's a Fami and a Gameboy version too. Definitely fun and and worth tracking down if you can, probably won't take you too long to get the end...but there'll be lots of "aww" along the way!

  2. I think the game looks really fun, but how much does it cost to purchase a copy of this game?