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Twinkle Tale (Genesis) artwork

Twinkle Tale (Genesis) review

"As I was making my way through Twinkle Tale, I was wondering why I play shooters. After all they aren’t the most appealing games. They are extremely basic, often very frustrating and repetitive (especially after spending hours on a single part), and nowhere near as technically advanced as the games that people play today. Yet we still play them. And in many ways they are more rewarding and ultimately more entertaining than anything else on the market, regardless of its graphics, re..."

As I was making my way through Twinkle Tale, I was wondering why I play shooters. After all they aren’t the most appealing games. They are extremely basic, often very frustrating and repetitive (especially after spending hours on a single part), and nowhere near as technically advanced as the games that people play today. Yet we still play them. And in many ways they are more rewarding and ultimately more entertaining than anything else on the market, regardless of its graphics, realism or complexity. But after playing Twinkle Tale for only one hour all of my questions were answered.

Twinkle Tale is an overhead free-roaming shooter that offers everything anyone would want in a shooter. It takes place in several diverse environments, gives you access to awesome weapons and spells, interesting enemies, and spectacular bosses. It has every trait that makes the genre so freakin’ awesome.

Unlike most traditional shooters you don’t control a spaceship or some sort of airplane, but a wizard. If you’ve heard of wizards before reading this review you’ll know that they’re known for their magical powers. And powers have never been cooler than those found in Twinkle Tale! Instead of finding powerups by shooting enemies or some other object, you start with three basic weapons. One shoots a stream of stars from your wand, another shoots a blue laser, and the other shoots an orb that attempts to home after the enemies.

These weapons might sound unimpressive, but it isn’t long before you can wield some awesome abilities. Powerups that augment your abilities can be found by shooting treasure chests and some enemies. The star shooter might sound lame at first, but after finding two powerups you are capable of shooting stars in every direction in front of you, which is great for mowing down any enemies that stand in your way. That weak blue laser can be upgraded so it shoots a much thicker laser capable of ripping through the toughest enemies. The homing orb can be increased to up to three orbs. The one orb wasn’t the greatest and most agile weapon, but you can’t go wrong with three of them hunting down your foes when you don’t have the opportunity to worry about a direct shot! The best part is that they are all equally as useful and the best one depends on the situation. Although I probably used the homing orbs the most, there isn’t a best weapon. I’m the type of person that prefers to stick with one weapon in shooters, but I didn’t follow that tradition in Twinkle Tale.

And that’s not all. There are two awesome spells (AKA special attacks) that you can acquire like a powerup. One summons three HUGE fire dragons that plow across the screen, severely damaging everything they touch. The other is basically a supped up version of the orb attack. Three giant orbs circle around your character and destroy everything that comes near you. Twinkle Tale’s unique weapons are among the best that I’ve seen in a shooter, and being able to use all of the weapons at anytime in different situations never makes the game seem dull.

Twinkle Tale’s levels never ceased to amaze me. They somehow come up with a way to stun me every time with something new and awesome. The game doesn’t begin with some retarded tutorial. You begin the game in a lush, grassy area, and if you move one screen forward you’ll IMMEDIATELY encounter several goblins that begin to attack you. Later on a group of bats fly at you from behind while you must dodge giant boulders falling from the mountains above. If you manage to make it past that part alive you will face off against a bunch of wizards and then a werewolf with two dragons tied around its neck (Think of a wolf version of Ashton from Star Ocean 2, how can anyone not think that’s not awesome?).

After that the game doesn’t slow down. You will travel to several other unique areas that are each loaded with awesome challenges. You will be fighting bone-throwing skeletons in some sort of royal palace, wizards that shoot giant lightning bolts in an underground cave, gigantic, red birds that swoop down at you on an extremely narrow cliff while you try to stay on the ledge, ghosts that form a circle around you and then close in, green monsters that charge at you inside of a castle, goblins that lob rocks (or some sort of projectile) at you from a distance, gargoyles that come to life and attack you in the middle of a castle, two Cyclopes that attack you with giant hammers, and much more. Besides throwing awesome enemies at you, the game challenges you in other ways, such as forcing you to move across platforms, dodge falling rocks, and plow through fields of enemies while small, green slimes chase after you. One of the best examples of this is on stage seven, when the game decides to change the way you move. Instead of walking on the ground you are flying on a broomstick in the sky while dodging rock-throwing goblins and birds.

At the end of every stage you will fight a boss. Not any old generic boss, but a unique and interesting one. These include a knight that shoots a laser at you while trying to grab you with its hand, a tree that shoots fireballs and some sort of laser beam out of its mouth while you dodge the thorns that pop out of the ground, a spider that tries to jump on you while you fight off the several smaller spiders, a demon that attacks you with magic spells, and many others. The best part is that the game doesn’t recycle similar bosses, and not one boss seems like another. They are all completely different from each other, and best of all, they are a blast to fight!

One of the most common reasons why people hate shooters is that too much memorization is involved. Twinkle Tale might require several playthroughs to master, but memorization will never bother you. It always seems as if you’re discovering something new and exciting, not like you’re trying to solve a pattern for hours. Even when you have to do a small amount of memorizing, it’s more fun than annoying. Instead of thinking “here’s the part where I have to move three spaces to the right and shoot quickly” you’ll be thinking “SWEET! Now I have to dodge the giant fish that jumps out the water and then shoot the green corpse that will rise up and try to grab me. This part fucking rules!” There developers even included different paths in most of the levels that present different challenges. For example, in the first level when you reach the mountains you are given the choice to move left or right. If you decide to head left you will face off with a GIANT armored soldier, and if you go right you will encounter a bunch of fire-shooting wizards!

One of the best parts about Twinkle Tale is that anyone can enjoy it, even those who have had negative past experiences with shooters. You have a health bar that increases over the course of the game (it starts at three hits and goes up to seven), and one hit deaths never occur. There are also three difficulty levels available ranging from easy to hard, and easy is pretty tame compared to most shooters. Then there are the normal and hard settings, which are perfect for shooter vets. So there is no excuse to refuse to play Twinkle Tale because it’s too hard or not hardcore enough. That’s a bunch of bullshit.

Twinkle Tale provides us with everything that makes shooters so fun, but it’s missing one key thing -- an English language option. Since it was never released anywhere outside of Japan it is almost entirely in Japanese. So unless you’re fluent in Japanese it is impossible to understand the story and the cutscenes. But that’s not a problem! In the words of GDeluca, the reason that we play shooters is because “blowing shit up in games is fun”, not to watch stupid cutscenes and have to deal with gay plot twists. And blowing shit up has never been more enjoyable than in Twinkle Tale.

Halon's avatar
Community review by Halon (November 28, 2007)

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