Genre: Puzzle Developer: Sega of Japan Publisher: Sega of Japan Players: 1-4 Released: 1995
You might remember the review of Puzzle & Action: Tant-R I wrote a while back. If you haven’t read that review, I suggest you do it before reading this one, since Puzzle & Action: Ichidant-R happens to be the sequel to that game. Like its precedessor, Ichidant-R is a puzzle game for up to four players consisting of about twenty mini-games, and it was never released outside of Japan. What we are asking ourselves this time is if you should buy this game, the prequel, or perhaps both?
Ichidant-R has a medieval theme, unlike the prequel, which was set in present time. I prefer this theme for some reason, even though it really doesn’t do much to the game itself. The graphics are of the same quality as before, meaning pretty colours and detailed sprites. The mini-games themselves are varied with both space age and ancient Japanese themes.
The music is also slightly preferable for some reason. It fits the game very well, making it obvious that the composers worked closely with the graphic designers, unlike many new games, where they just license dozens of songs from a record company and consider it done. The sound samples of Ichidant-R are muffled, but since they are in Japanese I don’t really care all that much.
What I do care about is the fact that this game wasn’t translated. It’s troubling because you have to avoid the mini-game “Hunt” this time when you play because, as with “Hint” from the prequel, it is impossible to beat without knowing Kanji. My biggest concern is missing the little RPG-style game that is included next to the arcade mode. In it, you walk around with the main character on a world map, exploring forests and cities in search of a kidnapped princess. The battles are the mini-games, and if you don’t win, you lose hearts. Winning several battles awards you with level ups. I don’t know much more than that, but I really hope some translation team puts their teeth into this one someday.
Apart from the RPG mode, we have the arcade mode, which simply means you are supposed to get that princess by beating all these randomly chosen mini-games many, many times. Luckily, there’s enough variety here to keep things fresh thanks to the rising difficulty, new environments for the levels, and a little bonus game where you ride on a horse and collect money while you avoid bubbles that paralyzes you briefly. Then there is the multi-player mode, which is far better than in the prequel. It is like a dice-based board game where the goal is to get first to the king’s castle by beating the mini-games the “dice” puts you on. Whoever wins the mini-game gets to move forward next.
If we take a look at the mini-games themselves, they are a mixed bag of new stuff and rehashes. The most frequent type of game is where you are supposed to pick something right out of many wrong options. For example: see which of the four baseball players hit the ball most times, build a rocket of many similar parts, see which four houses make the route of a hiding ninja, and count how many passengers the subway train has. I was having more fun with other games though, such as when I shoot down an UFO in first person, pick up food for the baby birds and watch out for the flying squirrels or change the rail so the train reaches its goal on time. There is plenty of variation here, and most of the games are very fun to play, even though they can be frustratingly hard at times.
After coming this far in the review, my mind has finally decided that it enjoys Ichidant-R more than it does Tant-R, but not by much. This is not only because I like the theme better, but also because the mini-games themselves are more fun. I find both games worth owning, but if you are out for only one of them, this is the one to choose. It goes for around the same price and if you haven’t played the prequel, the rehashing won’t bother you. The big downside is that it isn’t available in English, but at least most of the game is playable anyway. Ichidant-R fits well as a single player pick up and play game or as a party game for both expert and novice players.
SCORE: 8 out of 10