Up to Speed: La-Mulana



The recently announced La-Mulana for WiiWare has been getting a ton of attention lately. It was originally a freeware doujin game created by GR3 Project for PCs.,


When I first saw the above picture on the official site for La-Mulana, it reminded me a lot of Indiana Jones. In fact, it’d be kind of hard for anyone not to think of him, given that the game’s protagonist brandishes a whip and dons a very similar hat. Although, if you look closely, he also has a shuriken sticking out of his shirt pocket.


Indiana Jones isn’t the only familiar franchise La-Mulana draws inspiration from either. The game itself is a 2D side-scrolling action platformer similar to Metroid and Castlevania. — and when I say “Metroid and Castlevania,” I actually mean it. I’ve never understood why people felt those two were similar at all, but La-Mulana does in fact emphasize exploration and power-ups that grant you access to new areas, and well, you carry a damn whip and shuriken for God’s sake.


The adventure involves you — Lemeza Kosugi — searching for hidden treasure in the ancient ruins of La-Mulana, competing against your own father who is trying track down the same booty.


The entire aesthetic of La-Mulana from the UI to the music and the graphical style is meant to resemble an MSX game. On boot up, the game displays the available memory and MSX logo before letting you access the main menu, although, whether or not this feature will remain in the WiiWare version remains to be seen.


Kosugi even carries an MSX laptop with him on his adventures, and you can insert a variety of cartridges you collect along the way into it to enable different power-ups. Items like a “hand-scanner” (scan visor?) allow you to examine tablets and the bodies of previous unfortunate explorers in order to collect items and solve puzzles.


Unlike Metroid, however, La-Mulana provides players with few opportunities to restore their HP, and the environment puzzles are particularly devious. There’s a lot of restoring health at savepoints and attempting objectives multiple times to make sure you get through with as little damage taken as possible.


La-Mulana is being published by Nicalis, who are also publishing Cave Story and Night Game for WiiWare. While the final release date hasn’t been locked down — WiiWare developers are often left at the mercy of Nintendo’s less than stellar online division in this regard — we do know the game will see a North American release sometime this fall.


Many thanks to Denpa no Sekai for the tip!

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Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.