Pros: A unique game that maintains a good sense of humor.
Cons: Few stages and a limited number of pranks means you can see
everything the game has to offer really fast.
The creator of Viewtiful Joe made a big splash in the console gaming world
with the stylish game. Hiroyuki Kobayashi's latest product, Meiwaku
Seijin is just as creative. The game puts you in the shoes of a tiny
blue alien called Kozumi. To prove his manhood *ahem* alienhood he must
complete the traditional rite of passage for aliens of his age. His
planet isn't a violent one that conquers galaxies, its a comical one
that likes playing pranks on people. Kozumi flies to a strange planet,
that just happens to be Earth, with the goal of causing as much chaos as
On Earth people don't react to blue aliens with open arms.
Kozumi needs to assume the guise of another human being to pull pranks
off. At the start of each level Kozumi assumes the form of a random
person in the stage. Kozumi can capture an extra human by pressing the X
button to shoot his laser beam. He can change into the new human by
running underneath one of the moving spaceships. Each person that Kozumi
assumes has five different pranks to use. You can rotate different
pranks by pressing L1 or R1 and execute pranks by pressing circle. When
Kozumi pulls a prank off like singing terribly, dropping tacks by
peoples feet or turning into a giant superhero alien people drop coins.
You can chain pranks, by timing them one after another, to make people
drop even more coins.
Collecting coins is the games way of assessing if you've completed a
level or not. The first level, CoCo Town has Kozumi collect 500 coins in
a ten minute time limit. In the Casino level you compete against a rival
alien to see who can get the most coins in the ten minute time span. The
Resident Evil inspired Raccoon City level, makes players drain all of
the coins from Nemesis in ten minutes. The Raccoon City level gives you
an extra alien on your side to help you out. There are a couple of other
levels that include a western level and a haunted house area complete
with zombies! Besides different goals each level has occupational
hazards. There are rival aliens that pull pranks on Kozumi, grim reapers
that chase you in the haunted house level and a robber that steals coins
from Kozumi in the casino level. Pulling pranks has its own hazards too,
if you annoy people too much they'll chase Kozumi's human form down and
hit him. After two hits Kozumi will lose his human "skin" and revert
back into an alien. When he switches into an alien he drops a lot of
hard earned coins and can't pull any pranks. Players will need to take
the heat off Kozumi by constantly changing human forms.
The variety of stages and the variety of pranks is what makes Panic
Maker such a fun experience. In what other game can you throw pies at a
casino waitress, exorcize zombies and use spring loaded punching gloves
to knock people into walls? The quirkiness of "Under the Skin" goes far.
The lack of levels and the inevitable lack of pranks doesn't. With only
eight levels Meiwaku Seijin: Panic Maker is a short playthrough. There
are three levels of difficulty to complete, but what gives the game the
most replay value is its two player mode. In the versus mode you and
your friend can select from a number of different aliens and stages.
Each time you beat a stage you'll unlock that stage and alien for use in
two player mode. Competing against a friend to see who get the most
coins is pretty entertaining. There's just something satisfying about
calling a Tyrannosaurus Rex to chase down another player. The pranks are
so ridiculous, that make them more enjoyable with a friend.
Meiwaku Seijin: Panic Maker sticks with a graphical style similar to
Viewtiful Joe. You have cel-shaded sprites with some real weird cartoon
animation. Meiwaku Seijin: Panic Maker good use of bright colors adds to
the cartoon detail of the game. All of these things complement Kozumi's
cartoon style and cute looks. Meiwaku Seijin: Panic Maker has some
really good art direction. Dark and dreary Raccoon City makes a great
translation into the style of Under the Skin. There is a decent amount
of voice acting in Meiwaku Seijin: Panic Maker. You'll see clips before
every level explaining what hazards are there and what goals are
present. You also have a couple of movies with Kozumi, that feature the
game's quirky humor.
Meiwaku Seijin: Panic Maker offers something new and something
different for gamers that are tired of blowing up monsters or jumping
over bottomless pits. Is this game going to create a whole new genre of
"Itazura" (Japanese for prank) games? Maybe, but even if it doesn't
Under the Skin can hold its own ground against other big name titles.
You can enjoy the gameplay without any language knowledge and the
game is simple enough to play without the instruction book. However, you
will miss out on mission goals and the quirky humor if you don't know
Meiwaku Seijin: Panic Maker has a planned US release for October 26.
Capcom's latest innovation of a prank game is something
fresh, something fun and something people of all ages can enjoy. Now if
it was just a little longer, it would be more than a diversion.