LAURENT KERMEL - Video Game Den : Super Famicom : HEISEI INU MONOGATARI BOW WOW : POP'N SMASH )
HEISEI INU MONOGATARI BOW WOW : POP'N SMASH
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game cartridge
平成イヌ物語バウ ポップンスマッシュ!!
©TY/SADN 1993
©Takara 1994
Release: 1994-04-28 (¥7800)
Cartridge SHVC-QQ
Tennis/Breakout game


Hensei Inu Monogatari Bow Wow : Pop'n Smash is a wacky tennis/breakout game based on the Japanese anime of the same name. Bow is a bull terrier living in a rich and powerful Yakuza (Japanese mafia) family. He was adopted by Sayaka, a loving little girl and daughter of the feared head of the family-gang. Hensei Inu Monogatari Bow Wow : Pop'n Smash, however, gets the player to enjoys one-on-one matches in the shape of unusual and loosely "tennis" themed duels. Characters can use all sorts of racket-like objects to hit the ball - Tennis rackets, Baseball bat and so forth. Each opponent stands on each side of an enclosed court and his or her primary duty is to defend a small opening that serves as a goal. Destructive blocks are usually scattered around the court and some of them are located in front of each player's goal and offer a temporary protective barrier. The goal of the game, as expected, is to hit the ball and try to win the match - three wins guarantee a victory and a ticket to the next stage. Controls are split into left and right and picking the correct button will send the ball flying in a different side of the court. Characters can also dive to hit the ball and this desperate move can get the player to miss the ball or send it entirely in the wrong direction - but it proves to be a powerful ally with practice. Finally, a power-shot can be charged up during the game and used to trigger lightning-fast shots. Courts become more complex as the game progresses with special blocks, power-ups and more intricate layouts.
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Bow Won animated series Bow started as a Japanese manga comic by Terry Yamamoto and published in Big Comic Superior. I wonder if the author wasn't influenced by Spuds Mackenzie, the popular bull terrier used in Budweiser's advertising campaign in the late 1980s. Anyway, Bow was later adapted as a forty episodes anime series called Heisei Inu Monogatari Bow Wow and aired from 1993 to 1994. It tells the story of Bow, a wacky and silly stray bull terrier. The homeless dog lands in a rich Yakuza (Japanese mafia) family and is adopted by the cute Sayaka, daughter of the head of the gang. Bow is an ordinary dog but his silliness often leads to disaster.

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Now that I'm thinking about it, I don't recall playing any other game that proposes a dog as avatar. I do remember a sort of fun first-person dog simulator for the Macintosh but a game that features a dog who can play tennis with a baseball bat is certainly a first in my book. I actually like the wacky nature of the game. It is built around a simple idea and yet I found myself unable to put the controller down, thinking "just another match then I stop". I know, it's pathetic, but here's the perfect example of a little Japanese game that manages to feel right and gobble your free time up without a second thought. Things get a bit repetitive after a while and the 'three wins' rule quickly becomes a cheap and annoying way to stretch out the game. So here you have it, nothing deep or profound, but a little game wrapped up in candied colors and refreshing wacky designs that refine and reinvent a genre that has long since gone from our gaming plates. If you like games such as this one, I'd invite you to also test out Sanrio Smash which features a similar gameplay system.




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