CRAZE is a futuristic SF quarter-view shooting game developed by HEART SOFT for the PC-88 and MSX computer systems.
When I think back on CRAZE the first thing that always comes to mind is the packaging, which is nearly identical for both the PC-88 and MSX versions.
What's interesting about it is that the back cover shows direct screen comparisons between the two game versions, with the MSX version looking notceably inferior to the PC-88 one.
Now, while this detail probably didn't mattered much in the case of the PC-88 version. I've never understood how they (HEART SOFT) didn't took it out of the MSX version back cover. I mean, I can't think of a worse way to alienate the MSX userbase than by shoving them the fact that they were essentially purchasing a highly downgraded version of the game.
It's almost like HEART SOFT didn't wanted people to purchase the MSX version. But if that was the case, why bother releasing it in the first place?
At any rate, I think it was a terrible marketing scheme.
The story of CRAZE takes place 300 years after a catastrophic nuclear war nearly wiped out mankind from the face of the Earth. Today overseer by a giant super computer humanity has rebuild itself into a new utopic society but at the cost of the people's individual rights.
Yet the untamed human spirit still rages within a young rebel outcast called「CRAZE」who has taken the fight for individual freedom to the streets of the modern CPU controlled high-tech megalopolises.
Like with a great majority of PC games much emphasis was put into the anime artwork and storyline cut-scenes. But just like it was the case with most every other title in this aspect back then, CRAZE doesn't really go beyond having a charming artwork style and a passable storyline in accordance with the anime/manga standards of the era.
To the game's credit however, the storyline cut-scenes although far from being memorable, are interesting enough to make you want to keep playing.
CRAZE is a side-scrolling shooting game set in huge multi-floored maze-like stages which are presented in quarter (isometric) view perspective. Your vehicle is a cool cyberpunk-ish air bike that can be upgraded multiple times by locating the special parts scattered around the stages.
Most of the actual challenge in the game comes from just trying to find your way through the long and incredibly confusing stage layouts. And while I must admit I just plain suck and have no sense of orientation whatsoever when it comes to the types of games. In this case I think most players will have a hard time not ending up hopelessly lost.
To add even more to the misery, some of the later stages will require you to find special ammo or a keycard in order to open up some blocked gates. Thus you may need to move back and forth between places you probably never had a clue on how you winded up in them in the first place.
Destroying enemies and looting their still smoking metal carcasses is necessary to keep the fight going. Your bad-ass air bike requires an ungodly amount of [E]nergy packs to keep it functioning. And of course you won't last long in the streets without a good stock of [M]issile ammunition to fend off the authority.
The item drop rate is fixed and will always be : [E]→ [E]→ [E]→ [M]. Make sure to remember this pattern since it can end up working against you.
Also note that there can only be 1 item drop on screen at any given time. Continuing to destroy enemies whilst an item drop is still on the floor will prevent any further items from spawning.
In spite the fact that CRAZE isn't particularly an original or innovative shooting game, it still nonetheless suffers from an uncanny amount of design flaws and omissions that potentially can mess up your whole playthrough.
Some of the actions that can lead to your unavoidable demise include running out of missiles or power bombs, reaching the boss without the appropiate weapon upgrade or with insufficient ammo, etc.
All of this in combination with the longevity and complexity of the mazes, plus the surprising lack of a continue or save option, can make of CRAZE an incredibly aggravating experience if played on an actual PC-88 system.
CRAZE by HEART SOFT is among the more interesting shooting games available on the PC-88 system. And if it wasn't for all the game breaking flaws, it certainly would have been among the more recommendable ones.
Luckily for us, today we can get around the most critical design flaws (except for the annoying mazes) with a wise usage of an emulator's save state feature.
Just being able to make a save at the start of every stage (avoiding cheating your way through!) contributes immensely towards the enjoyment of the game, and makes it possible for most any player to clear the adventure.
I absolutely cannot recommend playing CRAZE on a real PC-88 system tough, as it is too brutally challenging and time consuming to be a worthy experience.
Like an unfortunate amount of retro PC games out there, CRAZE is the type of game that only the most hardcore of dedicated PC players back then ever got to see its ending.