|Reading ability:||Some Required|
The anime Iria is based off of a Japanese live-action SF movie (ie: Japanese actors dressed in silly rubber suits) called Zeiram. I've met people that are fans of one but have not seen the other. I'm not very big on live-action Japanese sci-fi type movies, but Zeiram is one of the better ones. The events of the animated series occur before the movie, and Hyper Iria is based off of the anime. Since the game shows Bob as Iria's computer, apparently the events of this game occur after the animated series and before the first Zeiram movie. Fujikuro also makes an appearance in this game.
Naturally, players assume the role of Iria, the beautiful, young, aspiring bounty hunter. Before each mission, Iria gets to buy her equipment she'll need, and Bob briefs her en route to the destination as she flys in her dempadan flying machine. She can use this equipment to use to her advantage for each mission, and the commission she earns after completing the mission can be used towards buying new weapons. Aside from guns and explosives, Iria's suit is very effective with punches and kicks.
Occasionally, as Iria is flying her dempadan, she comes under attack. When this happens, a shmup sequence starts and you can shoot your way through the enemies. These enemies often leave behind valuable items, so it's a good way to stock up on extra grenades and such. Her dempadan can fold up so that she's lying straight, and this gives her speed. Fortunately, ammunition is unlimited during these mini-shmup sequences.
You can only equip three firearms and three options at a time. You start out with a basic pistol, but it doesn't do much damage. Eventually you can buy a rapid fire rifle and a powerful plasma cannon. For options, you can buy several types of grenades (such as rolling grenades, flying grenades, and mines) as well as accessories such as high-jump boots and wings. The wings are helpful in controlling where you land during freefall. Just push the button to activate the wings and you can glide gently to the ground and guide Iria to where you want her to land.
Having completed this game, I'll say that it does not require very much Japanese reading ability. But in some levels, Bob will give you directions to complete the mission, so knowing the kanji for left, right, up and down is essential. Also helpful is the kanji for kaidan (stairs). I suppose it's possible to have no Japanese-reading ability and guess your way through the game in trial-and-error, but you will have the most difficulty on the third level. This level is the most difficult to navigate through, especially if you can't read Japanese. So, I will give some guidance on this. The fourth computer room is particularly tricky to find. If I remember right, there is one elevator that will go up two levels. Jump off to the left before you reach the second stop up and keep going left to find the fourth room. Then you need to face the final boss back in the first computer room you probably found at the very beginning of the level. Finish off the big blob with grenades and guns and then kill the Zeiram face on the ceiling.
The game has great graphics, and is very well animated. Iria's hair blows in the wind, and her chest heaves as she breathes. The opening sequence alone is pretty cool.
Music is fairly memorable for this game, and it fits the action and emotion of the game rather well. Sounds such as gunshots, explosions, punches and the like are well done.
Challenge and replay:
This is a game I have enjoyed playing through several times. I just think it's a fun one to pick up every now and then.
Aside from some minor gameplay issues, this is a solid platform game. The wide variety of weapons to choose from is excellent, and some items are more conducive to certain missions than others. I really enjoyed the randomized shmup sequences and I wish that I could encounter them more often, as they were fun and a great way to stock up on ammo. Also a nice plus is that there are no instant death pitfalls that are too often a cliche in platform games. Even falling from great heights does no damage. When you die, you start over at a checkpoint and you have several lives before you have to start all over from the beginning. But don't worry! That's what the continuation codes are for.
What's also interesting is that this is a platformer in which you must pay attention to the directions your guide, Bob, is giving you. This sort of gameplay was later expanded in Burning Rangers for the Sega Saturn.
The control is a bit difficult compared to other platform shooters, so Iria isn't quite as nimble as she is on TV. Also, it seems as though punches and kicks are more effective than some of the weaker guns. To me, that just isn't right. Also, it seems that in some areas of the game, damage seems inevitable and you have to just run straight through and take abuse. The controls don't seem to allow for quick dodging.
I've read some negative reviews of Hyper Iria, and I actually like this game. It has its flaws, but it is a pretty cool platformer. I bought several Super Famicom games on my first vacation in Japan in the summer of 98, and this one was my favorite to play out of all of them. While the game has its shortcomings, it's still a great game, and it has kept me coming back to this game. Also of note there is an Iria game for the Playstation, but I've never played it.
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