Here’s an odd one for you. Based on the famous manga/anime Tensai Bakabon series, Heisei Tensai is an early Saturn release, and it really shows, so I’ll keep this post mercifully brief. I’m just going to say it: this game is kind of charming, but thoroughly unspectacular. There’s really very little to the actual game play – it’s a Puyo Puyo clone, with the gimmick that you have to “surround” pairs of coloured blobs. Visually the “surround the blocks” concept is not at all intuitive in the way that, for instance, Tetris is. Also, bizarrely, you can only rotate your blocks clockwise (?!).
There’s a multiplayer versus mode and a singleplayer story mode where you face the usual AI opponents in order, and the latter is what you’d expect but the multiplayer is limited in scope to the point that it doesn’t even keep tracks of wins and losses. (Do you expect me to use pen and paper to play this game?!) Issues aside, what is interesting about Heisei Tensai are its cutscenes, which are all finely tuned visions of insanity.
What follows are some highlights – let’s call it the Tama treatment.
The game opens with an anime scene, set somewhere in the Land of the Rising Sun.
And that’s all you need to know. We take on the part of the father, although the why, how, etc go unaddressed. But who cares. Any excuse to drop blocks, right? In singleplayer mode you face off against a bunch of opponents in a bid to complete this dot-to-dot puzzle. That’s what it looks like anyway.
Each level you face a new foe, who is introduced through a cutscene. This video shows off the first cutscene in singleplayer mode, which presents itself as a B-movie called ‘Scream from the Dark Forest’, directed by one John Doe. This is essential viewing. Doe’s evident mastery of the horror genre and unique style elevates his name to the same status as the other horror masters, Wes Craven, Sam Raimi, Todd Hooper, etc.
Easy AI here on this first level. Surrounding the blocks means getting a minimum of two blocks of the same colour bookended at both ends by blocks of another colour. From left to right, a successful formation will read blue-green-green-blue, for instance. You can do this vertically, horizontally or diagonally. There’s also those metal looking things in the bottom corners. These act like wildcards, impersonating any colour. Just to reiterate, the central concept here is not simply unintuitive – it’s obscure. Other block dropping puzzlers like Baku Baku Animal and Kururin Pa! use unique looking “blocks” to visually communicate how you need to place them:
Regardless, let’s move to the second cutscene in Heisei Tensai. This one is a little more upfront.
The cutscene goes on and on like this, him shooting towards camera over and over.
The combination of the disturbing backdrop, challenging AI and the irregular means of scoring means the game becomes rather tedious before long. So I’d like to end with the game’s pause screen.
And there you have it. That was Heisei Tensai Bakabon Susume! Bakabons. As this post hopefully makes clear, compelling cutscenes aside, this game is not really my thing. So, in the words of a song by Lindsay Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac fame, ‘that’s enough for me’.