Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Game Boy Games #4

Mr. Chin's Gourmet Paradise (1990)
By: Romstar Inc Genre: Platform Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Nintendo Game Boy
Also Available For: Nothing

In the days of yore, I often found that games that had anything to do with food were pretty great. Perhaps not as great as a really hot curry or a meat feast pizza but pretty great. This particular example is, I believe, a little-known Game Boy release which casts the player as the titular Mr. Chin, apparently a Chinese gentleman who has "come all the way from China" in pursuit of his favourite treat - luscious gourmet peaches. Where he's come to is anybody's guess but, while this mysterious land may be rich in curvy peach goodness, getting his hands on them may not be quite as simple as all that. Most of them, it seems, are actually terrifying creatures known as Momos which are apparently a special branch of the fruit family, and they aren't quite ready to be turned into peaches. Luckily, our hungry Chinese friend does have one fairly effective way of doing this - zapping them with his 'Demoe Beam' - but even this can be a little tricky too.

Mr. Chin's quest to munch peaches takes the form of an almost-single screen platformer. I say 'almost' as each stage is slightly larger than one screen, but regardless of their size they are the domain of the Momos. These sentient fruit oafs come in three spiky varieties: Slow-Mo (the happy-looking one), Yo!Mo (the one with shades), and Oh-No!Mo (the grinning one) and, unsurprisingly, contact with any of them does not end well. To take them out, the Demoe Beam must be deployed by setting up two Beam Guns on the same horizontal level. Once the second gun is in place the beam will fire automatically, zapping Momos between them, turning them into peaches which can then be collected. Each beam only works once though, so unless you're lucky enough to have all of a given stage's Momos lined up, you'll need to set up several beams per stage, for the stage isn't finished until all Momos are vanquished, and most stages feature more than one 'wave' of them too.

It may sound a little complicated for a game of this type and it can take some getting used to. I'm not totally sure a game mechanic such as this really suits a Game Boy game either, if I'm honest. The stages feel a bit too small and a bit too cramped for it to work well, and the controls aren't great which doesn't help. Mr Chin does get a little help in the restrictive stages though. Some parts of the platforms appear semi-transparent which are 'mesh' platforms, and he can jump up or drop down through these while the Momos cannot. He can also destroy the individual blocks that make up the normal platforms by headbutting them from beneath, and some of these contain handy special items including two types of Asian dumplings which offer temporary shields or the power of flight respectively, and there are also smart bombs and extra lives to be nabbed too. There are even a few bonus stages which offer Mr Chin the chance to scoff some peaches unopposed.

Whether you like the controls and the slightly convoluted method required to despatch the enemies or not, though, there is one pretty big problem with Mr. Chin's rather strange crusade - discounting the short and challenge-free bonus rounds, there are only eight stages on offer here. That means the entire game (including bonus rounds) can be completed within fifteen minutes! It does loop back to the beginning after the eighth stage so you can keep your score going (which apparently takes the form of calories!), admittedly, but even a mediumly-skilled player will have seen all there is to see here way too quickly. Games like this do frustrate me. The graphics and music are good and the premise isn't bad - would it really have been that hard to give it 20 or 30 stages? The designs would be simple enough and the GB carts aren't that restrictive, surely? As it stands, it's appealing and pretty good fun while it lasts, but that is sadly not very long at all. A missed opportunity.

RKS Score: 5/10

Gameplay Video: here's a sample video of the game showing a few minutes of action, courtesy of one of the talented fellows at Recorded Gameplay (check out their great channel here).


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