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Lupin III (Arcade) artwork

Lupin III (Arcade) review

"Resolved: That Lupin the 3rd is an excellent manga/animé, and by the same token, his success should therefore translate well to video games. "

Resolved: That Lupin the 3rd is an excellent manga/animé, and by the same token, his success should therefore translate well to video games.

Today I might argue that case, but if someone posited this debate in 1980, when an arcade game based on the series came out, I would have sided with the naysayers. Arsene Lupin III is the world's greatest thief, Japan's answer to the Artful Dodger, and he surrounds himself with equally talented company: sharpshooter Daisuke Jigen, renegade swordsman Goemon Ishikawa, and his crush Fujiko Mine, who is very fickle about her love toward him but always comes through when he needs her to. Who wouldn't want such loyal friends? Especially in the crime business! There's none of that friendly camaraderie and honor among thieves here, however. In a sadly primitive game that has aged worse than a jar of mayonnaise on an open window sill in July, Lupin looks like he's auditioning to be a rodeo clown (oh, that Lupin and his silly disguises!), and worse yet, his friends either have business to attend to elsewhere or they have simply abandoned him, leaving him to pull a heist by himself. Yikes.

Nothing about this game is Lupin-ish in any way, except for the basic concept of having to steal bags of money from the top of the screen and deliver them to a compartment at the bottom. That's the entire point of the game: move your faceless yellow man clad in a cowboy hat and a cape to a bag of money, grab it, and then take it down below without getting caught. Among your pursuants are a completely white sprite scrambling madly around the screen (Inspector Zenigata?), a green man who walks around with no particular intent to catch you but is happy if he does (some kind of random Interpol/Scotland Yard/LAPD officer?), and a fuchsia dog. Get caught by any of them - even the fuchsia dog, who is apparently capable of handcuffing you and reading you your rights - and you go to the slammer only to escape and try again. Land in the big house too many times, and the game is over. Win a round, and the wacky process starts all over again. Talk about no rest for the wicked.

Flaws cry out from every direction, practically begging to be discovered. For one thing, nobody carries weapons? Lupin always has a gun holstered on his pant leg when he needs it, and Zenigata is always eager to hold Our Antihero at gunpoint. Since when did hand-to-hand fisticuffs become the norm? Where are our friends to guide Lupin to safety? It couldn't have been too much to ask for Jigen to come in with a revolver and graze Zenigata's arm with a single bullet, putting him out of commission temporarily. There is no masterful sword work by Goemon, and no last-minute trick escape provided by Fujiko. Even the Beatles got by with a little help from their friends! Where are Lupin's in his time of need?

Another annoying tidbit is the system of random materialization that occurs whenever you successfully transplant a money sack from point A to point B. More often than not, you're planted right next to an adversary such as Zenigata or the dog (in cases where the dog caught me, I took some liberty of imagination and assumed that drugs were in the bag rather than money), and in many cases there's no way out of such dire straits. You just have to hope that when you get the bag to the bottom, you fade back into existence somewhere far away from those that would put you in a concrete cell with not even so much as an occasional conjugal visit.

Sad to say, but it looks like lack of technology claims the soul of another great license. There's not much to the game at all, and after five minutes of playing it - ten tops - you'll be wondering who it was that had the gall to slap the good name of Lupin on such a weird product. Without his friends, his weapons, and his inherent charm to pass by on, Lupin the 3rd loses all meaning. However, it could be said that this game ended up committing a grievous act of thievery after all: it stole fifteen minutes of my life from me, and I'll never get them back. Curse you, Lupin!

snowdragon's avatar
Community review by snowdragon (September 14, 2004)

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