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Genesis Power Battles Vol. 07: Arsha vs. Popful Mail

The platform/RPG is a great little niche genre with quite a few gems from the early ’90s. The king of it must be one of the incarnations of Wonder Boy, although Adol Christin made a good try for the crown with Wanderers from Ys. Here, we ask ourselves who is the rightful queen of Platform-RPG. The Mega Drive had two games of it starring a girl as the protagonist; Monster World IV, which was only released in Japan, and Popful Mail, a CD game brought overseas by Working Designs. We are leaving out the Brazilian replacement for Wonder Boy called Mónica simply because sprite-swaps hold no candles to original characters. So the candidates for the throne are green-haired Arsha from Monster World IV and redhead Popful Mail.

We will compare these two amazons in the following categories:

Background: Where did the participants come from? Would their backgrounds provide them with any distinct advantage?

Appearance: How intimidating would the characters actually be? Do their looks reveal what kind of opponent they’d be?

Abilities: What weapons or powers do the participants have at their disposal? Are they melee-based or long-ranged? Any special moves?

Speed: What some characters lack in power, they make up for in quickness.

Overall Power: How much damage do their special attacks do? Are they powerful enough to eliminate all enemies in sight or are they limited to a single foe?

Background

Arsha is a little dreaming girl with voices in her head who seems to have gotten the umbilical cord cut off yesterday. She has never done anything in her life worthy of notice, so maybe that’s why she wants adventure. Mail has been a bounty hunter for an unknown amount of time. Although she has never succeeded in catching any criminals, she does have some experience. Compare these ladies to the likes of Wonder Boy, who is a “hero” before buying his first sword, and Adol Christin, who’s saved the world twice before going side scrolling. Is it just me or are Japanese game designers more sexist than those so called “holy” books? It doesn’t matter here, because failing at everything is always more than nothing.

Edge: Popful Mail

Appearance

I wouldn’t be frightened by either Arsha or Mail if I met them. Even though they both have swords, their cutesy style would make me laugh if they approached me with it. This doesn’t make me sexist nor make me think they should be home baking buns. No, I do prefer this style of animated women before such monstrous atrocities of vixen you behold in Unreal. Still, our combatants should put something more on, especially Mail, who only has a swimsuit under her… mail, duh (unavoidable pun not intended). Arsha doesn’t have armor, but she isn’t dressed as salacious as Mail. She does have a big shield though, which would protect her much more. So, although both are cute and under-armed, Arsha wins this round.

Edge: Arsha

Abilities

Now, here is where it becomes interesting. While both use the traditional jump and sword slash maneuvers, their other aces in the sleeves are different. Arsha has her faithful friend Peperoguu, a round monster who can blow out fire, do small skydives with Arsha, and stop lava and water. His abilities in battle are more questionable though, as he has no attack. Let’s just leave him as a potential feature of Arsha’s abilities. Mail has even two comrades: the monster Gaw, who isn’t too dissimilar to Peperoguu, and the wizard Tatt. However, they aren’t powerful enough to fight alongside Mail, so none of them count. Too bad for Mail, who easily could have gotten the edge here. Fortunately for her, she has a good arsenal. With a long-ranged boomerang and a sword powered by fire, her weaponry easily outclasses that of Arsha, who only has a series of melee-based swords. Since the weapons are of biggest importance here, and Peperoguu can’t be useful enough in a fight, the edge goes to Mail.

Edge: Popful Mail

Speed

Both of these ladies use the power of Blast Processing to run. However, this comes as a disadvantage to Mail. She, much like Sonic The Hedgehog, runs too fast for her own good which lead her bumping into enemies and taking damage because of the very short reaction time. Arsha can also run, something she even does so faster, but doesn’t have the aforementioned problem, so the edge easily goes to her here.

Edge: Arsha

Overall Power

The score is two against two and it is the final round. Since we’ve already been through the arsenal and attacks, we must resort to the defense topic instead, since these ladies have no other special powers than their… ahem, moving on. Arsha can collect blue tears, and ten of these gives her an extra heart. Getting better armour also gives her many hearts. In total, she gets maxed at thirty hearts, and if she gets attacked only around one of them gets emptied. Mail never gets more than one hundred hit points, and although she gets stronger armour, enemies always do so much damage to her she must switch to a comrade or eat more fruit than is affordable. Arsha seems to have the advantage, but there is more. They both have herbs, and Arsha’s heal more and can be saved, while Mail’s heal little immediately. The also both have the Elixir, which revives and heals fully. But in addition to this, Mail has a whole selection of fruits available. The most powerful one, the melon, restores her completely. I don’t know where she stores them, but at least two should be under her mail. Anyway, having six of those is far better than Arsha’s ten potential herbs, which restore much less in comparison. With Arsha’s stronger defense and Mail’s better healing items, they come out pretty much even.

Edge: Draw

Winner: None (2-2)!

Yep, for the first time in Sega-16 history, we have a draw in a Genesis Power Battle! Arsha had the vitality and focused speed, while Popful Mail fought harder with better equipment. In the end, we had a double knock-out and two crowned queens of the platform/RPG. Did this cause big trouble for Wonder Boy, the king of this land? Did he have to turn to the sexism of polygamy, where he gets the double cake while the wives only receive a half each? No, as you remember, there are several incarnations of Wonder Boy, so Arsha just needs to find Shion of Monster World III while Mail gets Bock from the two prequels. Ah, problems are so easy to solve in the video game world!

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