Sunday, 8 December 2013

Retro Review - Mopiranger (MSX)

The strangely titled Mopiranger is classic top down, arcade style game clearly based on the exploits of a certain yellow dot-munching circle. Coming out on the slightly obscure MSX system back in 1983, Mopiranger was one of many Konami titles to grace the platform, and contains the developer's usual high level of charm and playability.

You take the role of a mouse-like critter in a kayak, who must move around the single screen stages rescuing his cute little mice buddies who are sitting by the side of the water that makes up the paths you can move on. Trying to put pay to your efforts are a selection of brightly coloured monsters, who appear from the two bays on the left and right of the play area, and whom kill you with a single touch. Luckily Mopi (I am assuming that Mopi is his name and Ranger, his profession) is not defenseless, and can fire a sonic beam of some sort that turns any foe into a rock. These rocks, along with the others that litter the stages, can be pushed in the direction you are moving, but will become stuck when they hit the end of that particular path, meaning you must be careful not to block yourself in. An additional gameplay mechanic comes in the form of directional water flow. The blue, watery pathways you navigate also have moving dots on them to visually show you which way the water is flowing, and moving against the current will slow down Mopi's movement, while going with the flow will have the reverse effect.

Both the rocks and water current add a puzzle-lite element to proceedings - enemies can be blocked off using the rocks, and the current can be used to quickly navigate out of harms way - and maintain your interest. The colourful graphics contain plenty of 8-bit charm and Mopi and his friends are suitable cute. Sound consists of the usual assortment of quick pre-game ditties and wub-wub, bleep bloop sound effects, but they all work well and don't distract you from the task at hand.

Overall, Mopiranger isn't going to rock your world, nor will it give Pac Man any sleepless nights. What it does do, however, is provide some entertaining, extremely retro, arcade maze action that will keep you returning in order to beat your previous score or reach an otherwise unseen new stage. As well as in its original MSX incarnation, Mopiranger can also be found on the Konami Antiques : MSX Collection Vol 1 for the PS1, or on the superior Saturn offering, Konami Antiques : MSX Collection Ultra Pack, and offers a nice change of pace from the many sports and horizontal shoot-em-ups on the disc.

Title : Mopiranger
Developer : Konami
Year : 1985
System : Arcade
Ports : Saturn & PS1 (Via Konami Antiques collections)

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