We’re doing things a little different this time–this is the first game in the series I beat on an emulator, specifically MAME. While this particular game did see a Japanese PS2 release, that’s not the one I played. Why will become obvious soon enough.
You may notice that this is going up on April 20th my time. If you’re not familiar with US and/or drug culture, April 20th (4/20 in US dating) is a big day for druggies in the US, and while I don’t smoke the mary-jew-wanna myself, I thought this was a good day to revisit a game that, frankly, could only have been made on copious amounts of drugs.
Trio the Punch – Never Forget Me… was released in 1990. It is less a game than an experience. I like to call this an “Excuse Game”, in fact. I’ve briefly written about games with “Excuse Plots” before, but Trio the Punch has no plot to speak of at all. Indeed, the fact that Trio the Punch is even a game is incidental to the experience–it’s like the developers threw together as many unrelated elements as possible into one piece of media; that the media happened to be a video game was basically coincidence.
This may be by design. Trio the Punch is thought of as one of the first “kusoge”. This is Japanese for, roughly, “Crappy game”–although the term has additional connotation beyond just “a bad game”–a kusoge is seemingly that way on purpose, and Trio the Punch definitely fits the bill here.
Since there’s no overarching plot to speak of, I’ll do my best to describe the gameplay. You pick from one of three characters–a ninja, a brawler, and a Rastan ripoff who uses a candle lighter as his starting weapon. It’s just that kind of game. The ninja, for his part, briefly transforms into a log when he gets hit (Apparently this makes sense in Japan), while the brawler gets the best weapon with enough power ups. And by “best”, I of course mean “craziest”. His maximum-powered main weapon is the “W. Fist”. Apparently W. stands for Wind, but what it functions as is “Watch-Helplessly-As-Your-Character-Zooms-Across-The-Screen-Until-He-Hits-Something”. It’s maybe the best attack in any game, ever.
The rest of the game is a similar mess as the developers swagger along with a “haters gonna hate” mentality. The first boss is a giant Karnov statue held by smaller Karnovs. Another boss is a bird inside a statue of Colonel Sanders. A third boss is a sheep that turns you into a sheep (Who then becomes the best character in the game) for the next level. Normal enemies are Margaret Thatcher riding a fish, or guys who lay bombs, then get confused and inspect said bombs, blowing themselves up in the process. And so on.
Most of the time, actually advancing in the game consists of defeating certain enemies in the stages to collect hearts (Which have “HELP” written above them). Collecting enough hearts makes the boss appear, and defeating the boss causes your character to pose and say something (“MAMBO!”? “HOT SAUCE”? Who really knows?) while “WIN WIN” appears on the screen. You then move to a roulette wheel, where you can increase your weapon power or life, change your character, or lose power. Doing the latter causes the game to scold you for making a “BAD CHOICE”, even though there’s really no choice involved at all if playing the game at full framerate (Though the PS2 version’s roulette moves slower, making it somewhat possible to manipulate). It’s just that kind of game.
Each character has their own theme that plays throughout the game, and all three themes can best be described as “relentless”. What do I mean by this? The following is a list of places where a reasonable game would break up the music:
- When fighting a boss
- After beating a level
- During a bonus game
- After a game over
But not Trio the Punch. Your chosen character’s theme just keeps on going. Actually running out of time on the continue screen, changing your character, or beating the game are just about the only three ways to make it stop.
By the way, the continue screen uses a picture of Michelangelo’s “The Dying Slave”…until you continue, at which point it’s replaced by an extremely happy…clown type thing. Again, it’s just that kind of game.
It’s worth noting that Trio the Punch’s ending changes slightly depending on which of the three characters you beat it with. Do any of the endings make sense? Nope! But that’s part of the fun, really. It’s only fitting that the ending would make no sense, since the rest of the game doesn’t make any sense either. Besides everything I’ve mentioned above, you can bounce on both enemies and projectiles without taking damage. Some of the projectile patterns, though, make it difficult to ever stop bouncing on them.
This entry is more disjointed than a lot of the other entries in this series. It makes sense though, because Trio the Punch – Never Forget Me… is more disjointed than any of the other games I’ve played for it. And it’s a game that’s worth emulating, in English, just to see what a delightful experience a disjointed game can really be.