Monday, 22 September 2014

Random Game I've Never Heard Of #11

Pu.Li.Ru.La (1991)
By: Taito Genre: Fighting Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 22,010 (one credit)
Also Available For: Saturn, PlayStation, FM Towns Marty, PlayStation 2 (part of compilation)

Who in the blue blazes came up with this name?
Over time, video games have been based in all manner of fantastical lands with with an equally diverse range of names, but I think I've just discovered my favourite one ever. PuLiRuLa you see, which is an impressive enough name itself, is set in a rather peculiar place called Radishland. The fact that there are apparently very few radishes in Radishland makes it an even more awesome name, but something else there is little of here is time which has stopped. This vital component of everyday life is controlled by a magical 'time key' which has sadly now been stolen by an as-yet unidentified rapscallion. Leading the fight to restore the flow of time (and somehow unaffected by its inactivity) are Zac and Mel (a boy and girl respectively) who are pushed into service by an old man who furnishes each of them with a 'magic stick' with which to... smash stuff.

Not sure what these guys are but there's a lot of them...
Indeed, for the theft of the time key has seemingly brought with it an influx of unusual-but-malevolent creatures, and your job is to beat the crap out of them all across six side-scrolling stages. Our heroes have an oddly-jolly walk and they can jump quite a height but their offensive abilities are limited to repeatedly swinging their sparkly magic sticks, and there are only two ways to do this too - press the fire button for a normal swing or do the same after a double-tap of either direction for a more powerful thwack. Actually, you do also get a couple of special attacks per life which inflict more widespread damage in seemingly random and very weird ways such as a swooping fairy, a large tornado, or even a guy inside a giant microwave. I'm not sure how useful they are but they sure look weird!

Look at the nice reflections on this icy stage...
The stages are viewed from a nice angled perspective and sometimes move diagonally up or down as well as left-to-right which gives you a decent amount of floor space to make use of, and at first the game seems ridiculously easy. Enemies attack in fairly small numbers and they are each defeated by a single hit, but things get a little tougher from the second stage when new, more dangerous (and even more peculiar) enemies start appearing, and in greater numbers too. Your energy-meter can therefore often be depleted fairly rapidly but it can also be refilled just as quickly, and it's also possible to increase the magic power of your 'stick' as well. The most challenging parts of the game are the boss battles. Lord only knows what most of them actually are, and the first one can be defeated without even taking a hit, but some of the later examples can be a real pain in the arse!

Yes, there is indeed a doorway between these legs...
Aside from these rather deranged creatures, though, this really isn't a very challenging game. There are occasional difficulty spikes during the stages such as when a swarm of flying creatures drop a load of bombs or when an armour-clad knight appears, but even I with my meagre gaming skills could 1CC this game within a few attempts. And that, in case you were wondering, takes less than twenty minutes. It is quite an entertaining game while it lasts though, which is odd when considering its ease and lack of variety (the unnecessarily tiny number of attack moves, for example). I attribute this to two things: the weirdness and the graphics. The latter, as you've probably already noticed, consist of a very interesting style which kind of reminds me of a cross between Pac-Land (in places, at least) and a Studio Ghibli film, and they really are superb.

Fooom! Pesky bomb-dropping creatures strike again...
The cartoon/anime characters are fantastic. Some are amusing, some are just plain weird, but they're all big, nicely designed and very well animated and the backgrounds are mostly great as well, especially the first two stages. There's also some decent cut-scenes here and there which relay the strange story, complete with entertaining 'Engrish' of course! The music is appealing as well, although quite a bit more 'normal' than the rest of the game which truly is one of the strangest I've ever played. For instance, each defeated enemy leaves behind a startled animal (dogs, pigs, playpus) which can then be 'collected' for bonus points, and bosses usually release a person who reveals more of the story. On one stage alone there's a digitised woman flying from a flag-pole before you have to avoid giant stockinged legs (I daren't imagine what the owner is doing to make her move them around).

Ooof! Looks like I've gotten a prod in the back!
In some ways PuLiRuLa actually reminded me of a more anime-style Dynamite Dux. Both games have nice cartoony graphics and are really weird, and neither requires a great deal of skill either. Some attacks here are easier to avoid than others but most of the time you'll just be pounding the attack button while attempting to take in just what's going on! It's certainly a unique game that's for sure, and of a kind that would usually appeal to me so I'm not sure how I never encountered it before - it's by Taito, one of my favourite developers, it was released outside of Japan, and it received a few conversions, so... goodness knows, I guess I just missed it until randomly selecting it recently. I'm glad I did too - there isn't much replay value and its faults would've been easy to improve upon, but it's still such an unusual game that it's definitely worth playing through once, just to see all the crazy shit Taito have dreamed up if nothing else.

RKS Score: 7/10


  1. What an odd-looking game--and I don't completely mean that in a negative way. What I mean is, the art style is great, as is the use of color, but the large sprites and slightly "off" perspective are less appealing to me. Still, it was made by Taito, and that alone makes me want to give it a go at some point...

  2. Once I was so close to win an auction for the Saturn version.
    Lost it in the last seconds ;_;

    It's nothing special form a gameplay perspective but the weirdness is what carry on.

  3. Hi Bryan :) You're right, this is a very 'unique' game, both in terms in visuals and pretty much everything else too! I quite liked the large sprites but I know what you mean. And yes, Taito rules all :)

    Hi Mr. Neogaf - Unlucky with that one, the same thing happened to me with Bubble Bobble Symphony :( I think PuLiRuLa is one of those games that can cost a fortune but then you might also find it for peanuts another time. Oh well, hope you manage to find it again :)

    1. Bubble Bobble Symphony for Saturn is an awesome game!
      Taito rules, especially on Saturn.

      Well later on I got Elevator Action Returns for an acceptable price so it was all well.

    2. Ooof, that's another pricey one (nowadays at least). I still haven't played it actually, partly because I'm not keen on the original...

    3. One of the better Saturn game IMHO.
      Indeed in the last year or so EAR price skyrocked.

    4. Yeah, I usually see it for around the £65 mark now. I should've bought it when it came out :P