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Annet Futatabi (Sega CD) artwork

Annet Futatabi (Sega CD) review


"Genesis cult classic El Viento did not end happily. The heroine bawled her adorable doe eyes out in the arms of her adoptive father Earnest Evans (star of the tragically ambitious . . . Earnest Evans). The pair's occasional friend and occasional enemy, German auto-maker Zigfried, smirked at the thought of the world falling into despair and anarchy. Meanwhile, the diabolical mastermind of all this chaos vanished into the wind like a phantom. That damn priest! "



Genesis cult classic El Viento did not end happily. The heroine bawled her adorable doe eyes out in the arms of her adoptive father Earnest Evans (star of the tragically ambitious . . . Earnest Evans). The pair's occasional friend and occasional enemy, German auto-maker Zigfried, smirked at the thought of the world falling into despair and anarchy. Meanwhile, the diabolical mastermind of all this chaos vanished into the wind like a phantom. That damn priest!

The game needed a sequel. Fans demanded a sequel. Due to behind-the-scenes troubles, such as the bulk of developer Wolf Team's staff walking out due to creative differences and publisher Telenet turning to pachinko for profit, it almost didn't happen. But I didn't know of such things back in 1993. I just knew that the gorgeous, RGB screenshots in Gamefan magazine's Annet Again preview made me yearn for a domestic localization that would never happen. From March of 1993 until that fated day in July of 2000, when I finally discovered a complete copy of Wolf Team's lost adventure at internet import shop Wolfgames, my heart ached at the unfulfilled promise of a conclusion to Annet's cruel destiny. Seven years -- two short words, but such a long time to wait.

After actually playing the game, some might prefer the anguish of the unknown. The heartache of absence was at least tempered by hope. The sad reality is that Annet Again is a hopelessly horrible game.

Whereas the other two episodes in the series were sidescrolling platformers, Annet Again is a speedy but misguided blend of Golden Axe and Final Fight, in which our young heroine (who happens to be a daughter of Hastur) hacks Armani-clad mobsters, Nazi soldiers, and biogenetic freaks to pieces with her Sword of Light. Or Annet beats them up the old-fashioned way by kicking them in the gut and throwing their stout frames over her dainty shoulder. For reference, the mobsters funded the Nazis who created the biogenetic freaks. Video game logic is in full force here, and the brightly colored enemies are generally imaginative, although the inclusion of mechanical powered suits is a bit too much for a game set in the early 1930's.

The major problem with Annet Again is that it's a terrible blend of Golden Axe and Final Fight. The action slows down whenever there are three enemies on the screen at once (the most that ever appear is four). The character sprites often flicker in unusual ways -- Annet's torso may disappear briefly, but the rest of her body remains onscreen. Every now and then, the screen stops scrolling and Annet must defeat all present enemies before advancing onwards. This is not unusual in and of itself. Unfortunately, the virtual playfield extends quite a distance beyond the visible playfield. Our heroine cannot walk beyond the borders of the television, but she's still expected to defeat offscreen enemies. If Annet waits for a literal minute or two, her opponents might stroll into viewable range, at which point they can be killed. Just be careful not to knock them off the edge of the screen, or they might wander into nowhere for a while. This has happened in other games, but Annet's opponents often disappear for so long that I feared my game had glitched.

I waited seven years for this.

There is no time limit, so Annet can afford to wait for the enemies to wander into view. However, this lack of time constraints reveals another issue. Given enough patience on the part of the player, Annet can infinitely perform her "special magical attack". As time passes, her magic power bar fills up, unlocking a magical attack. The bar can fill up to five times, granting a new power with each advancement. Fill the meter once, and Annet summons a frightening, Satanic skull that barely hurts anyone. The powers of Satan are clearly no match for Nazis. If Annet keeps waiting . . . and waiting . . . that bar fills all the way up to level five. Tap that magic button, summon a red dragon to instantly incinerate all opposition, then sit and wait . . . and wait . . .

For reference, magic levels two through four are ridiculously unimpressive, consisting of such things as "a ball of light" and the absurd "inverted gravity", in which everyone on the screen suddenly turns upside down. Somehow, this hurts (but does not kill) them. To kill them, Annet needs to wait for that level five red dragon.

Waiting for the magic bar to regenerate is a dull approach to the game, but it's brainless and unfortunately very tempting, since the stilted control makes it difficult to honestly vanquish the villains. Boss encounters -- during which magic is negated -- are brutally difficult, to the point of soul-crushing absurdity. (Tip: abuse the sliding kick. All other attacks will be countered.)

Imagine the heartbreak -- this is the game I had waited seven long years to play! It may be colorful, and the music is decent, but Annet Again doesn't even begin to deliver the gameplay experience established by its predecessors . . . and that includes the oft-maligned Earnest Evans.

//Zig


Rating
The eyes!   Restiana   Annet   Earnest Evans   Annet Again   Zigfried   Aisha   Annet in the desert sun
3
Betrayal
After enjoying the stylish El Viento and flawed but ambitious Earnest Evans, the lazy programming and irritating gameplay of Annet Again wound my hardcore, oldschool gamer's heart.
Read more about the review rating scale...


It can't end like that.

It won't end like that!

Even though the game is clearly rushed, even though it's tragically flawed, I harbor no resentment. Although the gameplay sequences are misguided, Annet and Earnest have never graced the screen in grander cinematic style.

The core plot is pure Nazi experimentation B-movie silliness, but the human drama and emotions are genuine. Annet's confrontation with the Nazi commander early in the game reeks of style. When the door to the darkened chamber opens, Annet's silhouette stands out against the light. The Nazi's leader emerges from the shadows, and a one-on-one battle begins in the heart of the biogenetic laboratory. Later on, in a more lighthearted moment, Annet shows off her unhealthy crush for her adoptive father. For shame! Clever camera angles and copious close-ups are put to good use throughout.

These cinematic sequences deliver raw, emotional power that transcends the B-movie plot. The sense of horror at seeing a friend's lifeless, bloodied body slumped against the wall; the regret in Annet's trembling voice when she realizes the part she's played in this tragedy; the fire in Earnest Evans's eyes when confronted by greed and betrayal; the plaintive cry of a broken-hearted girl for the one man she still trusts. These are moments both beautiful and haunting. Annet's heart is so open, so forgiving, so compassionate . . . but in the end, she only brings pain and suffering to those around her. Through stylishly angled settings, powerful imagery, and professional performances, it's clear that Wolf Team loved these characters and their world.

I waited seven years for this. It was worth the wait.

El Viento was imaginative, dramatic, quirky, challenging, and a fun ride from crazy beginning to explosive end. The only thing it lacked was closure. Annet Again provides that finale in bright, colorful, professionally acted style. The attention to cinematics proves that Wolf Team knew what was important to the fans; this time, we weren't looking for a great game. We just wanted a chance to say goodbye.

//Zig

Rating: 5/10

zigfried's avatar
Staff review by Zigfried (July 09, 2009)

Zigfried likes writing about whales and angry seamen, and often does so at the local pub.

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Feedback

If you enjoyed this Annet Futatabi review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

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bluberry posted July 09, 2009:

Zig, you've outdone yourself.
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Suskie posted July 09, 2009:

Fuck! Fake-ending a review -- with a score and everything -- was an idea I've had for a while, and now you've done it! Bastard!

Awesome review, in any case. You REALLY didn't want to lose this week, did you?
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zigfried posted July 09, 2009:

Thank you! No, I don't want to lose again =P

I actually did the fake-out ending way way way way back in the GameFAQs days (for the same game no less, although it's a totally rewritten review) but I think it works a lot better here at HG.

//Zig
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randxian posted July 09, 2009:

The fake final score is one of the more innovative ideas I've seen in a long time.

I know there are some games that I initially like, then dislike them more as time goes on, and vice versa.
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joseph_valencia posted July 13, 2009:

I can't believe this piece of shit beat out Dagoss' solid review for "Mega Man 9" in the TT, but I guess there's no accounting for taste in the judging. The awful "fake score" gimmick, followed by the cries of "It can't end like that. It won't end like that!" (Nice emphasis Zigzwag) should have disqualified this crud alone. Devoting half the review to a sub B-level video game saga, though, that's the real kicker.

I like how this stuff is primed up to be "Citizen Kane" or "The Godfather" or something. I like how the screenshot of the mundane Sega CD cinema next to the review discredits your exclamation that "Annet's confrontation with the Nazi commander early in the game reeks of style." Yeah, that's real Michael Mann stuff right there. "Thief?" "Manhunter?" "Heat?" They're all nothing next to the lo-res glitz of Anet Futatabitablahblahblah. Geoffrey Unsworth himself would be put to shame by that stunning 16-bit cinematography!

On behalf of the site, Dagoss, I would like to apologize for this garbage being favored over your "Mega Man 9." If you really want to win some TT rounds, bring some pointless gimmicks and laughable "passion" ("I waited seven years for this!") to the table. Them judges, they go for that stuff.

//Space
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drella posted July 13, 2009:

Nice review, Zig. I enjoyed it and appreciate the great effort you put into documenting these lesser known games fully and accurately. Over the years it's certainly had a strong influence in my approach to a lot of the arcade games I try to cover.

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