Translations from Game Lab Vol. 201 -- May 2012 Issue


Photo Caption: I'm in love with the world of darkness ♪

Mana-Sama's Nostalgic Game inferno

~Part 14~

Mana's Hardware Collection

SOLARPOWER

Company: Bandai
Release Date: 1982
Retail Price: 6,000 yen
*The detail picture above is of "Terror House"

Operation by the Power of Light, A Dark World Through the Glamour of a Mobile Console

Last time I talked about Nintendo's Game & Watch, but this time I want to introduce its rival, the SOLARPOWER series.

First of all, I want to touch on something in particular about the SOLARPOWER Series; by its name you can probably understand that you don't need batteries to operate it! It was a great thing that you didn't have to go through the trouble of changing out the batteries, and it was extremely groundbreaking. Also, when talking about it in terms of modernity, you could say it was eco-friendly. At that point in time, I don't know if Bandai could see into the future to today's eco-boom or not, but theres no mistaking it was immensely ambitious of them. The first time I saw it, I admired it with my child mindset, thinking "What a cool system, for an electronic to work by the sun!"

Mana-Sama's Fascination with an Evil and Dark World

Well then, you could say I became fascinated by the SOLARPOWER, as an evil aroma drifted in these goods that Nindendo did not produce. Nintendo's products were mainly based on the good guys, and for me who was unsatisfied with that, I became a slave to this series with a dark images when I pressed the button to the main screen.

Among the entire series, "the one that was particularly pushed was "Terror House (Akuryo no yakata)"! Even just from the title I was in love. First of all, its bright red body was just like blood. However, despite that, what was even more interested was the way you could read "AKURYO NO YAKATA" written in Romanji across it. Since it was intended for children, perhaps they wrote it out just incase so it wouldn't read it as "Warurei no kan"?

Its also worth mentioning the configuration of the screen in this game. It was different from the form of the lovely Game & Watch, there was a depth given in the screen for the use of perspective. It was just like a scene from a horror movie. The monotone visuals on the screen were desolate, but it resembled the early monochrome horror masterpiece movie, "Black Sunday", and all the more, it successfully brought engendered it's dark essence.

On the game screen, inside the strange house, you can hear the thunder roaring, creating the best situation. Something thats even more cool is that on the screen itself there isn't just 1, but two games implemented in it.

In the beginning, the game starts with a boy who has to creep through the garden of the Terror House. Bats start to attack you right from the beginning as you come out of an iron gate fancy, and one by one you must fight off the bats with a knife! Then graves with evil faces come flying out at you! Why graves (laughs)? But apart from that, while you protect yourself from the graves, to some degree the bats are still there, and theres a bridge that spans over a pond and in one go you have to get to the castle! There is quite a bit going on for one screen configuration. By the way, trees with evil faces are also drawn onto the screen towering over everything, making it even more difficult.

The second part starts when you enter the castle. Inside the castle, the big three retro monsters, the Mummy, Dracula, and Frankenstein await you. Furthermore, some how Death appears, implementing somewhat of a mysterious scene. In the middle of a life or death combat with the monsters, collapse into ruins, which continues to make your heart beat faster and faster. You also have to attack the monsters several times with a knife. Thereupon, the evil spirits cry out in their death once you have completely cleared the game!

I wonder if you are sharing my excitement? The contents grab ahold of a horror fan's heart, leaving me in tears.

Other than "Terror House", there is more to the SOLARPOWER series line up, such as "The Unexplored Amazon," "Heaven and Hell," "Mystery of the Pyramid," "Mystery of the Sunken Ship", and "Horror of the Deserted Island". Since I don't only like horror, but mystery too, when I saw these titles I couldn't stop my excitement.

A bit of Bad Luck in the Face of the Hardware and Planning

However, it still couldn't go without its defects. The SOLARPOWER's body was made of plastic, so compared to the aluminum Game & Watch it felt like it wasn't a very high tech toy which made it a little bit disappointing. Also, although you could move the main character with a cross joystick in games like "Terror House," operating it didn't work very well. It made you realize what an improvement Nintendo's cross key actually was. Additionally, not only Game & Watch, but at that time arcade games also fundamentally had the movement keys on the left side and action keys on the right side.

However, SOLARPOWER had these keys on the opposite sides making it feel uncomfortable, so it was somewhat difficult to operate. With the presence of those kinds of things, the SOLARPOWER wasn't able to become a big hit. I wonder if this operability became the biggest reason for its badness.

But, this maniac series that bandai made is something I really love.

Footnote:

Since my room is dark due to indirect light, although I still would like to play the SOLARPOWER even now, its too weak for me to see the screen.(Mana)