Tenchi Muyo RPG

System: Super Famicom


Game Type: Isometric-View RPG
Fairly similar to the Shining Force series. Each character has more attacks to select from, though. There are no towns, no equipment, and no items to use during battle. All the major Tenchi characters from the first OVA series are playable (sadly this game predates Kiyone), as are some minor characters (Yukinojo) and a couple original creations.

Gameplay: 80/100
Basically any Shining Force fan will know what she's doing here. You position each character on the battlefield, make your choice of that character's arsenal of special attacks, choose targets, and sit back and watch the devastation. Each special attack will cost you a certain number of attack points, which characters accumulate each turn (there's no MP), and each has its own radius of effect. Each character moves a little differently; Tenchi can only walk and stand on solid ground, Ryo-Ohki can jump over small pits, and Ryoko can teleport through walls and hover in midair. Learning your characters' strengths and weaknesses and how to use them is essential to success.
I have some minor gripes with the gameplay, as it's not 100% polished. The isometric view isn't usually awkward, but sometimes the screen doesn't scroll far enough to let you see the enemies' position readily, meaning you have to back out of several menus and scroll over to them manually. This could have been fixed. Also, some attacks can't pass over pits, which is fine, except that this applies to all straight-line attacks. When you're crossing over a bridge and can't fire laser beams to either side this gets annoying. The battles don't have the scope of Shining Force; the battlefields are much smaller and you can only use four characters at once. And most importantly, the game's a bit too short. Most players will have it beat within a week.
Minor gripes aside, though, I enjoyed TM very much. The battles are carefully balanced, so that you'll always have to struggle if you want to win. Your characters are constantly discovering new techniques, and you'll need to learn to use each of them. And although it's short the game does have some replay value, since you're not likely to see all the attacks or even all the characters the first time through.

Graphics: 80/100
There's nothing fancy about the graphics. Attacks are shown right on the field rather than in cutaways like Shining Force. There are no eye-popping special effects. But the visuals are nonetheless colorful and appealing. The battlefields include bridges over streams and the crystal palaces of another world. The characters are large onscreen and are fairly good representations. And of course there's lots of character artwork in the cinemas. (As far as I can tell it's by the same artists that worked on the series.)

Sound: 70/100
The music is passable, but I don't believe a single one of these songs is taken from the series. The sizable number of voice samples, however, most definitely are. They're a tiny bit grainy but not enough to really annoy.

Overall: 80/100
I've already been accused of liking this game only because I love the anime series so much (here I glance up at the Ryo-Ohki doll adorning my computer), but I really think this is a decent RPG. Surviving fights is a constant (but not insurmountable) challenge, which is more than I can say for some Final Fantasy games. Different battles require different strategies, and when you've found a good one the results are tangible. The graphics aren't exactly flashy but have definite appeal, and of course the character designs are the best in any game, ever. (Well, probably.) My only real problem with the game is its brevity.
Ah, yes, the importability factor... You'll be able to figure out the simple menus as well as anyone fluent in Japanese (although even they might have some trouble figuring out the little quirks). You'll of course miss the story text, but what does any Tenchi story consist of? (Tenchi and Co. defeat horrible space menace, Aeka and Ryoko quibble, fade out, The End.) For emulator users, a group is currently working on a translation, but my money is against this ever being completed. Language aside... Fans of Shining Force-style games should consider it, as this is one of the best in the genre. And Tenchi fans absolutely must scoop this one up. With all the artwork and voice samples, it's an otaku's dream.


Copyright © 1997/1998 Jay McGavren. All Rights Reserved.