Trio The Punch – Never Forget Me...

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Trio The Punch - Never Forget Me...
Japanese arcade flyer of Trio The Punch - Never Forget Me...
Developer(s) Data East
Publisher(s) Data East
Platform(s) Arcade, PlayStation 2, Mobile phone
Release April 1990
Genre(s) Beat 'em up
Mode(s) Single player, multiplayer
Display Raster, 256 x 240 pixels, 768 colors

Trio The Punch: Never Forget Me... (トリオ・ザ・パンチ torio za panchi?) is an arcade game released by Data East in 1990. It is noted for its bizarreness.[1][2]

The game was re-released in 2007 as part of Oretachi Gē-sen Zoku (オレたちゲーセン族?, lit. "We are the game center race"), a series which ported arcade games from the 1980s and 90s to the PlayStation 2. The mobile phone game company G-mode acquired the rights to the game after Data East's bankruptcy, and a mobile phone version of the game has been released for the Vodafone EZweb network. Though the game was initially planned as a sugoroku game titled TV Sugoroku Trio the Punch (TVすごろく トリオ・ザ・パンチ?), the content was completely changed during production into its released form, according to the arcade game magazine Arcadia (Coin Op'ed Video Game Magazine Arcadia). The sheep from this game later appeared in Suiko Enbu: Fuunsaiki as Makoto Mizoguchi's desperation move.

Gameplay[edit]

Trio The Punch is a beat 'em up game where the player chooses a character from three playable characters, and fights numerous enemies across a side-scrolling game screen. Most of the levels are played scrolling to the right, but some loop around the left and right edges of the screen. Other levels allow the player to scroll upwards or downwards by jumping, while some do not contain scrolling at all. The game is completed when the player finishes all 35 levels.

The player controls their character with an 8-way joystick and 3 buttons (attack, jump, and special attack). Certain enemies leave behind a heart on the screen after being defeated, and collecting the required number of these hearts for each level causes a boss to appear, who must be defeated in order to complete the level. However, bosses appear from the start in some levels, so hearts do not always need to be collected.

Though the game design and controls are fairly orthodox, the game's content and playing experience is unique among arcade games, making it both a leading kuso-gē (クソゲー?, lit. "crappy game") and baka-gē (バカゲー?, lit. "stupidity game"). Two other Data East games, Chelnov and Karnov, were produced in the same period by the same director, and the three games are grouped together as the Deco-gē Trio (デコゲー3トリオ dekogē torio?).

From a technical standpoint, the game is rated far below other arcade games of the period, and many players were unable to cope with the nonsensical game content. Game magazines universally panned the game at the time of its release, but the release of similar games over time have lessened the initial strange impact of the game.

Characteristics[edit]

Trio the Punch contains many unique elements that are usually not present in games of its genre (though other games developed by Data East may have similar elements as part of a running gag). The game's quirkiness arises from its peculiar graphics, structure, design, and text, among other effects.

Setting[edit]

The game begins in a tropical environment, but later levels may take place in the rainforest, urban cities, Middle Eastern desert, medieval Japan, or a futuristic military base. No instructions or explanations on the plot structure are given as the player progresses across the different levels.

Many of the game's levels contain absurd or nonsensical events and characters. For instance, the 5th level of the game is set in a dense, lush forest, but the sheep that appears as the level's boss is pink and cartoonish, and attacks by flicking other smaller sheep at the player. Defeating this sheep causes the words norotteyaru (呪ってやる?, lit. "Curse you") to appear on the screen, and the player is transformed into a sheep at the beginning of the next level. This transformation lasts until the player defeats the boss of level 6 or returns to the title screen, and no explanation concerning the transformation is given afterwards.

An enemy resembling a statue of Colonel Sanders named "Bird Brain" appears in the 18th level of the game. Destroying the statue causes a purple bird to emerge from within, which attacks the player by shooting bullets of fried drumsticks.

The game also contains a peculiar "game over" screen, which consists of an image of Michelangelo's sculpture, the Dying Slave. Choosing to continue the game on this screen causes the sculpture's face to change into a childish, cartoonish version of the original image, though the shadowed portion of the face remains in its original, realistic depiction.

Text[edit]

The game's text is displayed almost entirely in Japanese, and uses a unique mixture of hiragana, katakana, and kanji, which ignores conventional grammar and speech (for instance, "1Pのひと ボタンを おすのぢゃ" lit. "1P press the button" is displayed on the opening screen). Many of the game's levels are given odd titles in a similar manner.

As with many other Japanese games, English appears frequently, but is treated with complete disregard for grammar and readability. For instance, a decrease in the player's attack strength is only displayed as "DOWN," and an increase in the player's special attack strength is only displayed as "SUB UP." Other abbreviations may use a combination of letters from the English alphabet and Japanese alphabet, where the subject being abbreviated is often unclear.

In-game persona[edit]

Many of the game's enemies appear in bizarre contexts. While it is fitting to have ninjas appear in the medieval Japan level, and to have robots appear in the space level, the boss of the first level is a gigantic bronze statue of Karnov, which is carried on the shoulders of 4 smaller Karnovs. The word Mamorigami (守神?, lit. "Guardian god") is etched onto the statue's base, and the statue attacks by breathing fire, and will change expressions after receiving damage. The boss of the second level is a gigantic bronze statue of a human fist.

Parodic elements[edit]

Trio the Punch is similar to games like Parodius and Konami Wai Wai World in the sense that Data East parodied some of its own games by having Karnov and Chelnov appear as enemies. Other parodic elements include the meaningless Darumasan ga koronda feature, where all of the objects on the screen are forced to stop moving, resulting in no change other than a waste of time. In level 10, the enemies begin to light bombs on the ground, but at the last minute appear to worry that they aren't going to go off, and run towards them, getting blown up.

Structure and game design[edit]

The traditional game structure of defeating weak, generic enemies before facing a stronger boss is often ignored in Trio the Punch. Some levels are much shorter than others, and only require one or two enemies to be killed before the boss, and the boss may even appear at the very beginning of some levels.

Though the game is seemingly an orthodox side-scrolling action game, jumping on top of enemy bullets causes the player's character to bounce away as if he had landed on a trampoline. This action occurs often throughout the game, but the image of bouncing off of small bullets gives the game an unnatural feel where the laws of physics are ignored.

The game's graphic data and collision detection are often at odds, and some attacks may appear to hit the enemy on screen, but are counted as misses by the computer, and attacks that appear to have missed may actually be hitting the character. The only text that appears when a level is completed is the word "Win" in the game's standard font set. The game's font is also poorly designed, as it counts dakuten as a single character, and is barely visible on dark backgrounds. Unlike other games, techniques such as fade-outs are never used for screen changes. Enemies may suddenly warp off-screen if a limit is reached in the number of characters displayed on one screen, and another serious bug exists where the game may stop entirely if the player uses a special attack during a jump.

The game's BGM was composed by Data East's music team, Gamadelic (ゲーマデリック?), and the same song loops without stopping for the entirety of the game, excluding rare instances such as the player changing characters. Finishing a level or going to the "game over" screen will not interrupt the song sequence, giving the music a feel similar to trance music. No sound effects exist for completion of a level, a game over, or choosing to insert credits and continue.

Characters[edit]

  • Tough Guy (Santos (サントス santosu?)) - The first playable character wears a baseball cap and track gear, and uses a sandbag and iron claw as weapons. He is best at close-range combat, and is the only playable character that can attack upwards. He makes cameo appearances in several other Data East games, including Boogie Wings (The Great Ragtime Show in Japan).
  • Ninja (Kamakura-kun (カマクラくん?)) - The second playable character is a ninja that wears a samurai mask over his face. He attacks with throwing knives and shuriken, and is the only character who can use long-range attacks from the start. He automatically transforms into a tree every time he receives damage from enemy characters, and the player cannot move or attack while the transformation lasts.
  • Swordsman (Rosesub (ローズサブ rōzusabu?)) - The third playable character is a muscular swordsman who can wield a torch, sword, or morning star to fend off enemies. He has the longest weapon reach out of the three characters.
  • Chin-san (チンさん chinsan?, lit. "Mr. Chin") - Chin is a stereotype of the martial arts masters that appear in old kung-fu movies, and seems to be a teacher figure for the three playable characters. However, he appears as a boss in levels 7 and 24, where his body stretches or grows gigantic, and he attacks by shooting bullets shaped like the character (lit. "pain" or "hurt").
  • Karnov (カルノフ karunofu?) - The title character from Karnov appears as a generic enemy in Trio the Punch. He is bald, bearded, obese, and half-naked, and appears in several different color and shape variations.
  • Chelnov (チェルノブ cherunobu?) - The title character from Chelnov appears as a boss character in Trio the Punch. His body is encased in a powersuit, and he attacks with a huge hammer, which was not present in Chelnov.

References[edit]

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