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Gourmet Sentai Bara Yarou
Birume Sentai Barayarou became a sort of Holy Grail for me at one time. After seeing screen-shots of it at some rom site years ago, I downloaded it just long enough to test it out and became obsessed with how outlandish it was. It took me more than two years of searching Ebay, various import sites, and even begging on certain gaming forums before a copy showed up somewhere. I ended up shelling out £41 for the cart, manual and box ). About six months later someone was selling it on Ebay for £150, mint, so I didn’t feel too ripped off. Was it worth the high price and fervent dedication of locating? Onto the review..
Being released late in the SFC’s lifetime (September ’95), Birume Sentai Barayarou’s nice graphics don’t look as impressive as they would have been a few years prior. Brawlers like Undercover Cops and Legend had already raised the visual acceptance bar rather high. However, Birume Sentai Barayarou still has an ace up its sleeve – it features some of the best if not the best animation of a SNES/SFC beat ‘em up. Take the floating head (dubbed Moai) for example – when it is getting back onto its “feet” after being knocked down, must have at least four different animated frames. The background environments are a mixed bag – with the first two levels being kind of dark and overly industrial/urban. However, from the second boss fight onward, they became significantly more interesting and include things like floating Buddha heads and a bunch of gigantic robot feet serving as the floor.
I’d actually like to mention some of the enemies in this game, just so you can get a feel for why this game is so weird. There are zombie-ish looking punks that have very phallic blades that slip out of their bodies – which they attack you with by thrusting forward. There are the aforementioned Moai, which are giant floating heads that attack you by sneezing at you and mauling on your crotch. The Moai are rode upon by tiny humanoid enemies (which flail about when the Moai is attacked – amazing level of detail). When the Moai are destroyed, the tiny people leap onto your head and stomp onto it until you attack them or simply walk over their small bodies. The mini-guys also sometimes walk onto the stage carrying land-mines, which they will hide beneath and try to trick you into stepping on. There are nearly naked “human cannonballs” in the later levels which like to soar across the screen. Female enemies resembling Playboy Bunnies appear from the third level on, with one donning mechanized armor during a boss battle. Even the bosses are freaky: with a bipedal, test tube-headed robot, a Tanuki (featuring the exaggerated genitals), and a syringe-bottomed flying creature which sucks health from your character is a semi-sexual manner.
The music is about average for the most part, and isn’t going to be giving Streets of Rage a run for its money any time soon. The sound effects, however, are pretty unique and caused me more than a couple of raised eyebrows. The first level boss sputters out something that sounds like a cross between high-pitched Anime-styled Japanese and a baby cackling. Another enemy, a girl with body-armor and clawed hand weapons, barks like a small dog as she’s fighting you. Weird stuff, and it beefs up the rating of this category a bit.
Aside from the “shadow-clone” occasionally attacking you instead of the enemies, everything here functions perfectly. No response lag, or any lag period, and the button layout scheme is fine. There is actually a button reserved for posing – which makes your character poise and spin around as if there were a bunch of magazine photographers off-screen.
Despite being a rather basic beat ‘em up at its core, Birume Sentai Barayarou brings about some interesting ideas alongside its entirely zany characters. Every defeated enemy either drops or turns into cooking ingredients – which you can piece together and do such things as restore health at the end of each level. This is done – by the way – with a giant robotic chef slicing and dicing the ingredients to make your character a meal. You can also get a temporary second player to help you out, which is controlled by the computer, that I called a “shadow-clone”. The name comes from the fact the extra combatant is always the same character as the one you have, except darker. It doesn’t bring about any graphical glitches or lag (like Final Fight 3), even if the shadow-clone only lasts a level or two before disappearing. The game can be pretty hard, as you only have one life per stage sections (but infinite continues), and you life-bar carries over from one level to the next. Most of the excitement from this area of the game is just seeing how crazy and often homo-erotic the next enemy type or boss is.
There are three playable characters, and up to two people can participate in the combat at once. All of the other “points” given to this area of the review come from the sheer pleasure of bringing people who are unfamiliar with this game along to see what it consists of. Birume Sentai Baraya could very will become the life of a party!
Fun Factor: 80%
While the combat engine in Birume Sentai Barayarou isn’t as developed as most of the others beat ‘em ups I ranked 8/10 – it has an inescapable sense of humor. Morbid curiosity can often replace solid game-play (see: Micheal Jackon’s Moonwalker), and the fighting engine is still at least average for the genre. There’s no way most people are going to be able to find, much less afford, a copy of this game. However, you should at least emulate it or watch the couple of game-play videos someone posted on Youtube. If you can stomach Choaniki – or even enjoy it – then this should be right up your alley.