GungHo is giving the Cho Aniki a reboot on the PSP. Rei Cho Aniki is essentially game “zero” in the series’ chronology, predating the PC Engine game currently on the Virtual Console.
Idaten and Benten return as the main characters along with Shoten, a new character, that wasn’t selectable. Idaten is your typical straight shooter. He has a powerful beam with limited reach. Benten is the exact opposite of Idaten. Her shots are weak, but she has a spread shot plus two pudgy cupids, Mika and Eru, that fire homing shots. Idaten is followed by Adon or Samson. Both of the body builders mimic Idaten’s shots and act like muscle men shaped gun pods.
Each character also has a special Men’s Beam, which is basically a souped-up version of their regular attack. After you hit triangle to activate the Men’s Beam you can choose the level of power by hitting square, triangle, or circle within three seconds. When enemies are defeated they drop power capsules which recover your Men’s Beam gauge and body builder icons that grant extra points. Pressing circle activates a magnet-like effect that sucks up all the body builder icons on the screen, but using this move means you have to stop shooting.
Enemies attack players from both sides of the screen in Rei Cho Aniki. Meet the first mini-boss, a flying train with muscular arms. It darts forwards and backwards while firing circular bursts of bullets. If you hug the right side of the screen it crashes into you and you die. The trick is to turn around and make Idaten face the other direction by hitting the left shoulder button.
If all of this sounds basic Rei Cho Aniki kind of is. The series is mostly remembered for its bizarre theme and eccentric bosses. We’re not talking about flying robotic fish weird. Cho Aniki mixes mecha with macho men. Somehow these designs didn’t translate well into 2.5D since the models lack any real details. At least for the first level you run into many enemies seen in the original game, now just made out of polygons. That train pictured above was recycled and so was the first level’s end boss. Dialing the aberrant enemies back might have been a good decision on a commercial level. Rei Cho Aniki plays more like your run-of-the-mill horizontal shooter now, but I wonder what die hard fans – the group most likely to pick the game up will think about the decision.