ＵＦＯ戦士ようこちゃん ● Genre: Shooting ● Release Date: 1988 ● Developer: VIC TOKAI ● Publisher: SEGA ● Media: Arcade System Board ● System Specific: SYSTEM 2
■SUKEBAN WHO ? ENTER THE UFO WARRIOR NANNO ! ! !
Save the parallel worlds and blast plenty of alien freaks, all while listening to YOKO MINAMINO's top hit singles in this wacky shooting game from VIC TOKAI.
UFO WARRIOR YOKO-CHAN was the third game designed by one of my personal game programmer heroes「TAKAYAN」whose best and most recognizable work were BATTLE MANIA and its sequel DAIGINJOU for the SEGA MEGA DRIVE.
The game developing history of TAKAYAN is very interesting, as although he worked for VIC, all of his works leading to the BATTLE MANIA games were made in very close cooperation with SEGA and were of course released exclusively on their systems.
TAKAYAN is regarded as a die-hard SEGA supporter, and the BATTLE MANIA games have become icons of the MEGA DRIVER generation.
Unfortunately during the 80's and still throughout most of the 90's, a lot of game programmers weren't credited under their real names, so the nickname「TAKAYAN」is all we got to know about this awesome yet (sadly) forgotten game programmer.
UFO WARRIOR YOKO-CHAN is a quirky and somewhat console-influenced shooting game. It is alongside FORGOTTEN WORLDS (released the same year) one of the first arcade games to feature a shop the player could enter to purchase weapons, bonus time, and even extra player lives.
Being able to carry multiple weapons and switch them at will via a third button was also another nice gameplay novelty.
The game is composed of two parts :「Overworld Map」and「Side-Scrolling Adventure」.
The overworld maps are essentially a series of simple multi-screen mazes where the action takes place in a top-down perspective. Pretty much your goal during this part is to find your way to the shop, defeating as many enemies as you can for spending money along the way.
Defeated enemies will drop either a coin (1G) or a diamond (3G). Note that coins and diamonds are indestructible and can get in the way or your shots, which by the way I found it to be extremely annoying. Moreover, if you take too long to collect them they will turn back into enemies, urgh....
Enemies will always respawn whenever you switch screens, so you can farm them as much as you want. ● FIND THE SECRET ITEM !
As a nice little bonus distraction, each map has a special item hidden in it (shoot at the right location to discover it). These items are random and can be anything from bonus points to an extra life.
By the way, OPA-OPA from FANTASY ZONE makes a cameo as a special item, so have fun looking for them!
The side-scrolling stages are the core part of the game and thus they hold most of the action and challenge. During this part the screen will auto-scroll to the right and you must blast your way through the incredibly bizarre enemy army.
Your standard gun is little more than a pea shooter against these alien freaks tough, so you will need to put your purchased special weapons to good use here.
The game uses a checkpoint based continue system, but be warned however that although you can continue indefinitely, you won't get any spent ammunition back.
Ending up without special weapons can leave you in quite a pinch, so make sure to use them wisely. ● UFO CATCHER !
Some time into each stage you will come across a goofy-looking pink alien riding an UFO. If you can shoot it down you can steal the UFO and use it to get through the toughest parts of the stages a whole lot more easily.
Still, given the game title, the UFO shooting action isn't as prominent as one would've expected it.
■NANNO SOUND 8-BIT STYLE !
Undoubtedly the coolest highlight of the game are the 8-bit synthesized renditions of the first 4 singles of YOKO「NANNO」MINAMINO that were (unofficially) used as the BGM of the overworld maps.
NANNO for those who don't know, was THE 80's idol. Apart from her beauty, NANNO is best remembered for her role as SAKI ASAMIYA in the TV drama series「SUKEBAN DEKA II : THE LEGEND OF THE IRON MASKED GIRL」. A role that made of her a living icon of the 80's pop culture.
NANNO was also, among other things, the promotional model for the FUJI FM-7 and FM-TOWNS computer series.
The BGM tracks are as follows. Interestingly enough, they were placed in their actual release order.
UFO WARRIOR YOKO-CHAN isn't really among the best shooting games of 1988. The action feels a bit stiff, and its wackiness and humoristic factor is not as imaginative as of what can be found in other games of the time.
Unfortunately the game is far from being a hidden gem like TAKAYAN's first game 「CALORIE-KUN VS. MORUGANIAN」. Personally, I think YOKO-CHAN would've fared better if it had been released for the MARK-III or FAMICOM. I'm sure the game would've left a better impression on consoles than as a mere budget-minded curiosity arcade release.
Still, YOKO-CHAN's good points are more than enough to warrant giving it a try. After all, where else can you listen to killer 8-bit versions of NANNO's 80's singles?