Sunday, May 13, 2018

Heiankyo Alien for Nintendo Game Boy (1990)

Original ad published in the June 1990 issue 

of VideoGames & Computer Entertainment (VG&CE).

Press to enlarge or download in higher resolution.

Awesome art, terrible writing

Another puzzle game that comes from a long line of classic PC and arcade versions. The printed material shown here is probably the best I've come across for Nintendo's Game Boy.

Heiankyo Alien was first released in Japan for the PC-8001 in 1979 and was then ported to arcade machines. It's basically a puzzler/action game that rewards both quick reflexes and strategic thinking. Not exactly Pac-Man, but a clear inspiration for Hyper Lode Runner which I featured last week, coincidentally. If you're really into this game, I strongly recommend checking out the Super Famicon version, released in 1995. The sound on that one is superb, as you can see below and the graphics are unique, to say the least. The Game Boy version is pretty basic, in comparison.

The artwork featured in both the box of the game and the material they distributed in some magazines is quite striking. There's a monotone background with red lettering that really jumps from the printed page. The drawing is hand-sketched, very ukiyo-e like, that makes the tiny screens on the Game Boy look absolutely pathetic. This was a common tactic during the 80s and 90s. Apparently, Meldac handled the port. Meldac was a Japanese music and video game company, according to Wikipedia. They also had a subsidiary in America called Meldac of America before it became defunct in the 1990s. Honestly, I had never heard of them before making this post. They did some other games, but nothing that strikes me as particularly collectible (Zombie Nation, Mercenary Force).

There's another interesting detail here. The alien featured in the ad bears a clear resemblance to the No-Face (Kaonashi) monster of Spirited Away, the very popular Miyasaki movie of 2001. Must be a Japanese thing.

But the copy of the ad is the worst I have ever seen. It's a probably a direct translation from a Japanese ad, full of gramatical and spelling mistakes. No one review this before being published. It's a shame, though, because the type is very cool, as well as the overall editorial design of the red lettering. It's also very difficult to read (not that it matters though, the "story" here is best ignored, like most video games from the Atari era. Ill keep it short: you have to dig so the enemies fall into your holes. Then you cover them up. That's it. Of course speed and number of aliens on screen can make this simple task really hard, yet addicting).

Heiankyo Alien for Nintendo Game Boy print copy

Japanese masterpiece

1,000 years ago, an army of malicious Aliens invaded the peaceful city of Kyoto forcing the villagers into an endless battle with the unwelcome visitors. This is the much talked about video game that took Japan by a storm 10 years ago un Japan [sic]. The sound quality of this game uses the latest in high technology called Multi Matrix Sound System (MMSS). With the new Heiankyo Alien game made for Game Boy, you'll be able to enjoy 2 different versions–the ultimate fun in New and endless fun in Old [sic]. This added bonus of 2 games in 1 will make your playing more enjoyable. In addition, a new feature available only on Game Boy software is the 2 player, opponent mode. By connecting the 2 Game Boys, 2 players con now enjoy playing this highly sophisticated game. Heiankyo Alien is a game everyone can enjoy.

Meldac of America, Inc
Phone (213) 286 7040

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