My father would often make trips to the local quickstop for pop or bread or even cigarettes on occasion. As a kid around 10 or so, I started asking him to bring me home a game. Sometimes I'd tell him what to bring, other times I would just take my chances and tell him to surprise me. Well one day he brought home Twisted Tales of Spike Mcfang, one of the most amazing and fun games you'll never play. Even when I replayed it a few years ago, I was surprised how it held up. It was really easy from what I recall, but as a kid I had some trouble with it. Especially in a later part that's like the Lost Woods, but hey let's not get too far into this yet.
Premise is pretty basic, you're a vampire kid who drinks tomato juice, which if my information is correct there is a version somewhere that has blood or there was going to be blood but for some reason it was taken out to be more friendly I guess, and your parents are kidnapped. An evil of some kind wants them for something or other. It doesn't really matter. What matters is the running around fighting monsters and leveling up. You know, the actual game not the story. I hate when people forget when all a game needed was a basic "your parents were kidnapped, go save them" plot. The game does expand a little on this with some helper characters, but really that's all you need is that basic premise. Just something to move you from A to B and get going.
The basic gameplay has you as Spike Mcfang fighting monsters in a Zelda like top down view. Spike is not only a vampire, he's some sort of magician as well and has magical cards that have different abilities. For example, the bat ability has him shoot bats out that attack enemies. His basic move is a spin attack, which you can attack quickly to power up and make his attack wider, at the cost of being dizzy. He can also throw his hat at enemies. Now this is an RPG, but it's a light RPG. It has item shops yes, but it's never complicated. Your second character switches a few times (spoiler alert) and you never really have to worry about them. They go off and do their own thing most of the time. If I recall correctly they weren't typically useful, but you could with a code let a second player come in and play as them. As I said earliar, you can level your character up and increase his ability to kick ass, but it isn't really all that necessary. Some minimal grinding early on can let you obliterate everything in the game. Usually I cap out at less than level 15 to give you an idea of what's going on here.
Enemies are really great. Ferocious bunny rabbits in the ice world. Garlic clove monsters, since you're a vampire. My favorite has to be the cactus monster, I remember it looking really goofy. The whole game has a charm to it that is this friendly world and the monsters and scenery are very much like that from a cartoon. It's easy on the eyes and if my memory is correct, the game held up well in 200X when I last played through it. I can't recall when. And even more so, the game holds up to replays - if only for me. It's gameplay was solid enough that I came back to it and beat it as an adult a few years ago, then decided to beat it again a year or two later. Not to mention beating it as a kid on that rental copy. One thing that would set me back was that renting it was difficult. You see, the battery save system would allow anyone else who rented it to just erase all my character progression. So while I might have made it to the last level, someone else could just come in "ah da da dah" and think they could do better and get stuck at the first castle.
So now to start my replay. I'm very excited to try it out, its been sometime. At least three maybe four years since I tried it out. I'm annoyed by the tutorial, but its helpful for someone new to the game. It just seems to take forever to get through, once I beat that though, things became as great as I remembered. A solid hour just passed by while I leveled up and wandered around the castle. I fought around until you meet a character that gives you something to return to town, bought a bunch of stuff then went back up and started leveling up on these four bomb girls. Once I hit level 6 I thought I could take the boss, things went well then the boss leveled up and killed me. I got a little frustrated- as I didn't save where I leveled up- but still I had fun running around.
Everything has that fun cartoon style that I like. Gameplay still felt good. Easily recommended to anybody. Is it worth your time? If you like action RPGs and light hearted games, yes. If you hate that sort of stuff, or old games in general avoid it. I just love the look of it and the gameplay feels so solid to me. It's great. Level up your character early and the game becomes a breeze, if my memory serves correct. One scene I won't spoil entirely involves you needing to use soup, and its worth playing or watching on a video site to see. It's funny light stuff.
Some minimal research corrects me on the blood thing, in the japanese version you eat hearts of your enemeis instead of tomatoes. How's that for cute? This is actually the sequel to an earliar japan only game on the turbografix. Makai Prince Dorabochan. What a great name. Screenshots I hunted down show it as a platforming game. That's all I can find for the series. Such a fun and cute game, why no sequel? Every first person shooter has twenty sequels, but not this? The same developer is still around and making games.
Did you ever play The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang?
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