It’s been nearly three years since I stumbled across an Otomedius machine in an Akihabara arcade, two and a half years since it got a home release, 15 months since it got a budget price re-release, 10 months since I hand-imported a copy of the budget re-release and a Japanese 360S to play it on, and barely over a month to go until the sequel is released, localized, in North America.
So getting around to spending some serious time with it now is, well, actually for me that’s almost timely.
But what IS Otomedius?
Well, basically, it’s a game where you defend yourself after wave after wave of murderous penguins.
Sunbathing penguins, construction worker penguins, penguin mummies, penguins floating from balloons and dropping explosive watermelons… penguins.
OK, so there are some other enemy types, but they don’t stand out as much.
It’s got character designs by Yoshizaki Mine, which means that you can expect a certain top-heaviness to the main characters.
This is not the main character. I don’t really care.
If the homicidal penguin thing hasn’t already sold you, I will add that it features well-timed, but barely-comprehensible strategy tips from time to time, such as when a boss appears on screen and you are instructed to “shuuto itto in za heddo”
It’s a glorious thing.
Here, watch a few minutes of it:
I have actually tried a few times to get into it and have been roundly thwarted on all previous attempts because I didn’t really understand the power-up system and because I was dumb and – not understanding the power-up system – tended to select the “automatically assign my power ups as you see fit” option, which tended to result in the game selecting SPEED SPEED AND MORE SPEED, meaning that my on-screen character tended to zip around the screen like a hummingbird on acid at the slightest jiggle of the directional stick, which is not very conductive to long-term survival in a game where you’re often trying to fly between laser fire with a very small margin of error.
Once I figured out that the auto-power-up feature was killing me and turned it off, I actually started to do fairly well, by which I mean that I can almost complete the game on one credit on “easy” except for the last boss which is a real pain in the arse.
The game has several difficulty levels above “easy”, but let’s not talk about them right now.
Anyway, it’s bloody unlikely that the original game will ever be released outside of Japan, but at least the sequel is coming out in the US. Whether I buy it or not will be highly dependent on whether it’s possible to use the original voices, of course.