Shippu Mahou Dai Sakusen

-Raizing (1994)

 

The Story:

For decades the kingdom has been ravaged by war. To many innocents have suffered and legions good men have lost their lives in battle. The king had an idea to stop the war; he would hold a big race that would encompass every part of the kingdom. He called this race the Gale Magic Big Strategy Kingdom Grand Prix. The king was obviously insane. Everyone from each part of the kingdom was invited to participate. The wars ceased and the people began looking forward to this competition every year.

The prize for winning this race is anything the racer desired. Most of the winners of the past have chosen mountains of gold as their prize, but this year, the racers interests vary. The famous fighter Gain along with his pet monkey, Mr. Powers, wants new ultra-mega-armor for his dual-fisting ship. The young witch Chitta has dreamt of becoming a famous pop singer and this race would be a wonderful way to realize that dream. The samurai dragon Miyamoto was not always a dragon. He used to be a fearless samurai until an evil magician cast an irreversible curse that turned Miyamoto into a dragon with a jet pack. He is desirous of the courage to face his former love, Misato, in his new form. If the evil necromancer Bornnam wins he will be close enough to the king to assassinate him. Nirvana, a huge fairy, wants the forest declared off-limits to all humans. She wants the forest to be a quiet place where her and her lesbian servant fairies can “hang-out.”

Two annoying little kids, the siblings Kickle and Laycle, want to be taught a spell that will send the duo 1000 years into the future. Honest John is an Automatic Armor, also known as a transformer. John wants to win money so he can move out of his dirty old creator’s laboratory and move in with his girlfriend, a pink and metallically sexy auto-armor. The final contestant is Bul-Gin. No, his name is Bul-Gin, not his pants. Not anymore at least. He was the former Captain Goblin of the Goblin Armed Forces used to slow down the racers during the magically delicious grand prix. He was forced out of the ranks when he became too old and senile and now lives in a flying tank down by the river. The old goblin wants to regain command of the GAF from its current commander in the red super armor. The contestants are ready. Let the Gale Magic Big Strategy Kingdom Grand Prix begin! (That just rolls off the tongue.)

My Thoughts:

“Your technique is what marvelous!”

Shippu is the essence of a racing game combined with a shooter. It’s a little weird to get used to at first, but upon realizing what you need to do to win, the game becomes easy. Since I’m sure most of you will never play it, I’ll give you the winning strategy. If you treat this as a normal shooter, where destroying everything concurrently increases your chance of victory, you will lose every time. For this game the trick is to not shoot anything. In some heinously awful mechanical engineering, all the ships’ (and creatures for that matter) weapons are connected directly to the engines. Tapping the fire button to shoot enemies and the ship’s speed slows. Hold down the fire button and the guns won’t fire, but the ship’s speed will somehow increase. Doing this at the beginning of the race and just avoiding the enemies’ shots usually guarantees first place. However, you need to be damn good at dodging.

It seems that all the enemies are gunning solely for you. If your rival racers get hit they’ll lose speed as they burn and twist to a lesser position, but not once did I ever see an enemy actually aim for a rival. Not only that, but when you reach a boss you are forced to fight it. Only you. The other racers can speed right past as you lose your position. Infuriating indeed, but with the above strategy you’ll have enough of a lead that fighting the boss won’t be a big deal. Random fairies flying about the courses distribute power-up spell books and coins that don't serve any purpose. As a fun bonus, if a fellow racer tries to pass you, launch one of the characters’ personalized super bombs to send them reeling back.

“Now it is advancement to the following round!”

The stages are a mixed bag. Since the race encompasses all of the kingdom, all sorts of enemy ships and creatures attempt to slow you down. Complete a stage and you get a choice between two stages for the next part of the race. One stage features decent enemies that make Shippu a good shooter, while the other stage features locales and enemies that makes Shippu leave a bad taste in your mouth. The race starts in Basalna City, the capital of the kingdom. Interestingly, the first boss is the coolest boss in the game. It’s a dragon with a spaceship attachment containing jet thrusters and cannons. From there the race goes through an Air Circus where flying monkeys toss bowling balls at you, or the Velmatic Ocean where ruthless jet-ski riders rule the water. Next, travel through the lame Outcast Castle ruled by a poor Dracula rip-off, or fly through the coolest stage, titled Cross Fire. This stage has the racers flying right in the middle of a heated battle between two giant airships. Continue the race in the not-so-good Deeply Dungeon, or speed through an okay Cold Corridor with a nice looking lizard-serpent-thing boss. Getting closer to the end sends the race through a good Strato Storm stage, or another bad faux horror stage called Forest of the Dead where mini-gun toting grim reapers try to bring you down. Finally, there is a choice of three ending stages. The decent Kingdom Grand Prix is a little like a race track. The Yashiki of Ninja is a big ninja fortress with a cool end boss battle with the Yashiki master ninja. Kobold’s Tower sends the race into space. I'm not exactly sure how the fairy and dragon survive in space without helmets or oxygen, but I’m sure it has something to do with this entire game not making any sense whatsoever.

“A more violent attack wait for you! Pay attention!”

Shippu also features some hilariously miss-translated dialogue. Upon beating the game you see your chosen character’s ending and a screen that contains the three “Engrish” lines from above. Shippu obviously isn’t trying to be a serious game, but I could have done without the lame horror stages and some of the stupid looking enemies. Half the game is good, while the other half is bad. At least it wins some originality points for the concept and a point for some sweet translations. I’ll end this review with a phrase on the screen seen when losing the grand prix: “Thank you very much it is had to play at this time aim at the first place next time! Hold out more!”  

 

Score: 7.0    

-Shawn