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Twinkle Tale (Genesis) artwork

Twinkle Tale (Genesis) review


"As soon as the girl enters that mountainous area of the first level, rocks start plummeting from the top of the screen. While they are easy to dodge, smart players may choose to not have their favorite weapon equipped during this section, as it could be quite damaging to blunder into a boulder and wind up weakened after this brief section. Because, with magic-firing mages and gigantic golems providing a gauntlet to pass before engaging in battle with the chimera that serves as the stageís boss, being at top offensive capacity is definitely desirable. "



Twinkle Tale is one heck of a shooter.....even if it is of a somewhat unorthodox breed. While this Megadrive offering has many elements in common with the average shooter (with one level actually being a pure shooting level), it also has a few not common to the vast majority of these games.

The heroine is a young witch in the vein of the Cotton gamesí protagonist. While my lack of ability to read Japanese was a slight roadblock to me having a clue what was going on, I was able to surmise that all sorts of demonic and diabolical critters were wreaking havoc all over her magical kingdom -- forcing her to go out and take care of business.

Unlike the average shooter character, this girl is bound by the laws of gravity for much of the game. As the first level begins, she is standing in what seems to be a clearing in the middle of a sparsely-wooded forest. A few shots with one of her weapons (spread fire, concentrated straight-ahead bullets or homing shots) instantly evaporates a pair of treasure chests, revealing two globes with stars painted on them.

These are the most important items in Twinkle Tale. Collecting them first powers up the weapon the heroineís currently using and then starts powering up the other two. Each weapon can go up from Level One to Level Three, with each new level adding more projectiles and power to her attack. Almost immediately after getting those first upgrades, it will be time to test them out on a few monsters, as a number of bats and goblins make a short-lived stand against her power. After that easy win, sheíll be able to snag a couple more treasure chests and move to a more mountainous region of the opening level.

Not all of these chests contain weapon orbs. Others may have one of two special attacks. The heroine can hold up to three of these items at once, with one type sending gigantic blue orbs at foes and the other assaulting them with gigantic fiery snakes. Or, a treasure chest may contain medicine to heal damage sheís taken. At the beginning of the game, she can absorb three hits before perishing -- a number that goes up after every couple of levels. Each hit she takes not only removes one life bar, but also weakens whatever weapon she currently has equipped by one level.

This adds an element of strategy to Twinkle Tale. As soon as the girl enters that mountainous area of the first level, rocks start plummeting from the top of the screen. While they are easy to dodge, smart players may choose to not have their favorite weapon equipped during this section, as it could be quite damaging to blunder into a boulder and wind up weakened after this brief section. Because, with magic-firing mages and gigantic golems providing a gauntlet to pass before engaging in battle with the chimera that serves as the stageís boss, being at top offensive capacity is definitely desirable.

Most stages have tricky little areas like that which seem placed in the game for the sole reason to steal the power of a playerís most effective weapon. Gigantic steel balls crash down the corridors of the second levelís castle, while the elevated platforms of the third stage offer plenty of opportunities for the girl to forfeit a hit because she stumbled off a narrow path while attempting to dodge a few projectiles.

And take my word on it, keeping out of the way of foes and their attacks isnít particularly easy at times. Not only are they capable of filling the screen with projectiles, but also are quite capable of taking advantage of this gameís fondless of narrow corridors and side paths. The maze-like caverns of the fifth level send the player down branching corridors through a series of rooms containing grotesque foes that waste no time in shooting first and asking questions later....that is, assuming they ever had plans to ask anything in the first place. The second stage has a handful of side rooms that can be entered, allowing the girl to collect a couple of treasures -- if she can survive the onslaught of foes that storm into the place to protect their ill-gotten goods.

Of all of these levels, few matched the sheer enjoyable chaos the sixth stageís fortress provided. The player runs through the ramparts and into the dungeon-like interior, only to exit the place and run around it -- to a dead end? Not for long as a pair of hammer-wielding cyclopses smash through a wall in search of a fight. After disposing of them, itís back inside (and on top of) the fortress until the stage ends with a tough battle with a goat-headed demon summoned from the depths of hell.

That isnít the only boss that provides its fair share of challenges, as many of them assault the player with new attacks as they take more and more damage. Not only that, but they are large, well-detailed and quite attractive to gaze at. The seventh levelís dragon-mounted foe seemed to be a tough foe with a laser-shooting lance being a great complement for his steedís rapid-fire spread-shooting breath. But when the rider gets shot down, things really get hectic. Not only does the dragonís breath get more difficult to dodge, but it periodically dives to the bottom of the screen in an attempt to rake the heroine with its claws.

The only complaints I have with Twinkle Tale are minor. My main qualm was that the flying stage seemed a bit stiff and awkward compared to the others and, with the exception of the dragonrider boss, not up to the standard set by the rest of the game. Also, in a few area, I thought the scrolling from one part of a level to another could be a bit jerky, giving me the feeling my character was getting propelled into the next battle instead of walking to it. Still, I have to admit this game was quite a pleasant surprise for me. Until recently, I hadnít even heard of it, so I didnít have the highest of expectations going in. It didnít take long for that to change and for me to fall in love with this game and its fun collection of battles with dragons, demons and heavily-armored knights.

Rating: 9/10

overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (February 23, 2007)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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