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Hottaman no Chisoko Tanken (NES) artwork

Hottaman no Chisoko Tanken (NES) review


"Hottaman no Chisoku Tanken transliterates gloriously to "Hotman," but that's the only smile I got from this game. It's a dig-in-the-earth game with big levels, power-ups, secret doors, hidden treasure, odd bug enemies and teleports. Find four keys and the exit for a new level. Weak level design and grossly unfair random events, though, mean fifteen looping levels provide very little adventure. Hotman is not the game its title deserves. "



Hottaman no Chisoku Tanken transliterates gloriously to "Hotman," but that's the only smile I got from this game. It's a dig-in-the-earth game with big levels, power-ups, secret doors, hidden treasure, odd bug enemies and teleports. Find four keys and the exit for a new level. Weak level design and grossly unfair random events, though, mean fifteen looping levels provide very little adventure. Hotman is not the game its title deserves.

Hotman's no Dig Dug, of the rainbow dirt and amusing enemy-inflation attacks. It's just shooting and digging across a two-square screen area level. Enemies fire back--well, horizontally--and worse, appear at random, in the area you just dug out, or even in portals, which can't be shot through. The red and green caterpillars and blobs permeate each level, though if you take too long to get through (and you will,) a cool crab sways sideways. He reappears a lot, so you can pump him for points and extra lives a bit.

Not too long, though. Hotman's levels are roughly timed, as the mournful background tune speeds up until fireballs cut the board in three, when you'd better be close to finishing. This isn't given with best play. Random portals, which sometimes don't move you at all, or enemies regenerating somewhere awkward, make it hard to cover all the board. Reconnaisance takes several lives, a hard price without passwords or continues. Portals may not get you to behind the heavy rock you'd otherwise need to blow up, and you may dynamite walls out of frustration to visit a door that might have a key. The predictable strategy of finding doors and poking at portals until you can get close to the more reclusive areas only gets so far, as later levels are divided in several parts. Granted, the doors surrounded by rock always hold keys, but this is a silly trick--like the exit's fake twin that sometimes appears once you've got the fourth key.

Later levels feature a desert that requires the temporary climate suit power-up to pass, or increasingly large stretches of water. Hotman breaststrokes and flails before flopping on land, and monsters don't have these problems. The climax is a beached whale in an impromptu temple behind a river: he fires every few seconds, and timing him is not hard, unless a random enemy pops in the side tunnel you need to duck. The reward is 5000 points and an easier next level--the first.

There, if you remembered which doors and eggs hold power-ups, or keys, you can maybe get through quicker the next time. Boosts are fun to futz with, but they vanish each level and aren't as valuable as remembering where the keys are, or even dumb luck. Blockades appear in unmarked dirt, shovels help dig faster, range boosts let you shoot farther, and fruits and garlic to lure and repel enemies. Dynamite blows up heavy rock you pressed against, but beware: you need to back up before turning. Harsh punishment for running into walls.

I've come back to Hotman and been disappointed each time. Shooting the enemies and finding the doors requires no real skill, the cheap deaths give exactly the wrong sort of difficulty, and guesswork on where to dynamite things may leave you stuck. The three shades of drab brown dirt in the game work with levels' lack of personality to ensure a game that seems good on paper fails woefully on-screen.

Rating: 2/10

aschultz's avatar
Community review by aschultz (January 11, 2010)

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