This week’s Arcade Archives entry is coming to tug both your heartstrings and your marionette strings — Pulled out from Hamster Corporation’s big bag of Namco classics, it’s cartoonish obscurity Toy Pop, now available to download on PS4 and Nintendo Switch.
Released to Japanese arcades in 1986, before later making its way to the Sharp X1 home computer, Toy Pop is a top-down, multi-directional shooter set within a colorful toy-based kingdom. Our heroes, Pino and Acha, are two dolls who must rescue their friends from the spell of the wicked witch, Mayjo. The two puppets climb the 44 floors of Mayjo’s castle, freeing their friends and gathering food, treasures, and hearts in jovial, single-screen action.
Various special abilities can be found hidden within gift boxes, and every few stages players are treated to an apple-catching bonus round to help boost that all-important score. Save your friends, defeat Mayjo, collect the apples, and restore order to toybox town. It ain’t Lies of P, that’s for damn sure.
Check out the eye-watering, adorable action in the video below, courtesy of YouTuber Were1974.
Toy Pop was something of a rarity, rarely seen outside of its native Japan, it was also one of the few mid-’80s arcades not to find its way onto the Nintendo Famicom platform. It is, undeniably a very charming and irrepressibly cute title, with wonderful little heroes, fun enemies, and spritely visuals, designed by the dearly departed “Mr. Dotman” Hiroshi Ono. All of this action is backed with a fun ragtime score composed by arcade veteran Junko Ozawa. It’s a very delightful little package.
It’s quite sad, on reflection, that the Toy Pop brand did not evolve, as Pino and Acha seem like loveable characters who could have turned their wooden hands to a variety of different arcade genres. If you’d like to check out their fun little odyssey, then Toy Pop is available to download now on PS4 and Nintendo Switch, priced at around $8.