Proof that age doesn't make a great samurai!

- Samurai Kid [Puzzle Action Game] -

Side Image 1

Japanese Game Box Front

Side Image 2

That Ghost Is History!

Side Image 3

Hide And Yasu

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A Sweet Picture Of Homuramaru (Click To See Entire Picture)

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Homuramaru Using The Hyoutan, Katana, And Ougi (From Top To Bottom)

-General Information-
Region(s): Japan
Year: 2000 (2001 according to Biox website)
Publisher: Koei (now KoeiTecmo)
Developer(s) and Others: Koei, Biox
# of Players: 1
# of Saves: 3 file for saves
Fan Translated: No
Other Info: See Biox's Samurai Kid page here.
Quick Game Overview: Available HERE.

You know what? The more obscure games I discover on Game Boy (As well as GBC), the more I realize that the Game Boy rocked in Japan. It may be hard to come to this conclusion though because nobody really talks much about any Japanese Game Boy games! Samurai Kid was yet another one of those "Japan Only" gems that eluded gamers in North America. Being published by Koei (most known for their historical strategy games) and developed by Biox, Samurai Kid deals with a country known as Hinomoto that was once a normal place. However, one day, the peaceful country found itself under attack by the cruel Demon King and his army of ghouls and ghosts. There was a small problem with the Demon King's plans though . He didn't think that the prince of Hinomoto, Homuramaru (your hero), and his friends Hide (a monkey) and Yasu (a raccoon) would embark on a quest to defeat him and turn Hinomoto back into the peaceful place it once was.

I should say right away that Samurai Kid is a great looking GBC game for 2000 (or 2001, according to the Biox website). The sprites are bold and the environments are colorful with lots of little details and animations. Homura possesses good animations for his various animation states (whether he's flying, getting burned by fire, etc.) and the level backgrounds progressively change the further you get. Homura's animation for getting hit is a little funny, if not a little over-the-top, but the game moves along smoothly and seldom skips a bit. The music is also pretty decent and many of the tunes are good to listen to. Some of the themes have a strong "Feudal Era" vibe to them and others suit the area(s) in which they are used. There are a few tracks that are a bit repetitive, but the sound is solid overall.

The gameplay is clever and creative and dubs itself a "Puzzle Action Game". When I first played this game, I couldn't help but think of how much it reminds me of "Hammerin' Harry" or Daikuno Gensan for the Game Boy Color. Doing a little bit of research though, I discovered that Biox was also responsible for Daikuno Gensan, so it wasn't a mere coincidence. In SK, you will use three primary weapons. First is the "Hyoutan", a typical gourd that you might have seen in many old kung-fu movies. Usually, a drunken master might have one attached to his/her hip. You must use this to turn enemies into blocks and use them as stepping stones or other uses. You can charge the bad boy up to shoot out a wave that can hit distant switches if you can't reach them. Next, you have your trusty "Katana". What good samurai leaves home without one, eh? The katana is your mail ticket to destroying rocks and enemies transformed into blocks. You can charge it up to shoot a wall obliterating shockwave (the wall must have cracks though). Last, but not least, you have the "Ougi". The ougi is a war fan that angers enemies when they are hit with it. Use it to lure enemies to particular spots. When you charge the ougi up, it sends out a whirlwind that pushes objects. You can hit transformed enemies (blocks) into other blocks or enemies to stop their flight when hit. Blocks will also stop when they hit walls/obstructions.

SK has a quite a few different adversaries with very interesting characteristics about them. Enemies are enemies, but when it is convenient for you, they will also act as your allies. There are enemies that only float vertically (as well as others that float horizontally) and floating ghosts can hold bombs you throw at them. You have enemies that are "human" and will follow you and they have the ability to climb ladders (newer versions of them can jump)...*Deep Breath* Sumo enemies will push blocks that you drop in front of them (some will move on the side of walls too), enemies that walk on the ceiling, enemies that blow air that pushes you and blocks, sea monsters with spikes on them that can break blocks, enemies that transform into hammers and warp to destroy blocks you make, enemies that follow you from behind and you can see, you will deal with LOTS of freaky demons. Of course, you fight bosses that require a couple of different tactics too.

SK will make you use more than just three weapons to solve dozens of puzzles; you will also be using many different stage items. The cool thing is that items don't just affect Homura...they affect enemies and blocks too. You have bombs that destroy special walls, a gliding cloud that lets you slide under tight paths, a drill that you can use to hit blocks above you and in front of you (when thrown), a helicopter plant that lets you fly that disappears when you hit something above you (can be thrown at enemies to make them fly...even if they are a block), a ball that floats on water, an item to cloak yourself and change enemies into springs...and that's just SOME of the stage items you use. You will use "Path Blocks" which you push blocks into and it launches them into other directions, reflective blocks that reflect lasers, magnets that react to metal (like say...Homura's katana), warp zones that warp you or blocks to other locations, switches that will active when blocks occupy outlined areas, and mystic red and blue charms that act as keys to open red and blue doors.

You can also gain special abilities like Metriod or Zelda by gaining special items. You can find heart containers to increase your maximum life as well as four heart pieces which will increase your maximum life too. You will gain super strength to push large blocks as well as the ability to walk on electric platforms. You'll be fighting large versions of enemies too that can only be bested with upgraded versions of your standard three weapons. Items can be obtained whenever you beat a regular stage or if you decide to tackle one of SK's three bonus stages. For example, you can get a clock that will reveal the time you need to compete with to obtain S rank when you beat a stage. There are a few items to collect and if you are trying to complete the game in full, you'll want to beat stages various times, get S rank on everything and get all the medals/coins (there are four on each stage). You'll need to use the map and utilize all your wits and SK gets much of its replay value off of completion. Even if you don't do those things, the game is still okay in length (with 10 stages and 3 bonus stages). During your first playthrough, I would think it will take you about 2 to 3 hours to complete.

The game focuses more on sophisticated puzzles rather than action but none of the puzzles are SUPER hard (maybe except for the last level's last puzzle) and during my course of playing the game, I was amazed by just how deep and innovative the game managed to be despite what starts off as a game with just three weapons and one hero. The level design is fantastic...not too easy, but not too hard. You will apply logic in many different ways, some of which are pretty creative. The bosses are pretty easy...actually, the levels being harder than the bosses. The game doesn't really have any instant death pits (there are very rare pits, but you only lose one heart when you fall in) and if you get stumped or feel like you need to restart a room or even leave a level, the developers were generous enough to leave those options available to the player. The real challenge of the game will be getting those "S" rankings on stages, which may prove to be a speedrunner's nightmare. Generally speaking, Samurai Kid is a game that is solid in all categories. Sure, there is no compelling story or overly dramatic plot devices to be seen for miles, but I didn't need one for this game and it still rocked. If you can manage to track down a copy, you should definitely get it.

- Written by Vyse the determined -

Game Screenshots

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