Let’s…Sorta… Talk About Puzzle & Action (Tant-R… possibly)

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WARNING: IT’S JAPANESE. So imagine if you will, the bods at Sega having a natter about Bonanza Brothers randomly one day and they decide that in some way, shape or form, they want to bring them back. And then after all of the groaning and grumbling and whining about how it wasn’t THAT good to start off with and what the point would be and why would you want to put people through another ten levels of fetching things and running to the rooftops after THREE YEARS of nothing.

AND THEN SOMEONE SAYS THEY SHOULD BLOODY WELL DO IT ANYWAY.

And instead of that, we got this.

Well… we didn’t. The UK didn’t anyway. Japan did. Japan got this. Hence the Japaneseness. That’s not a word. Who cares?

So it’s not the Bonanza Brothers sequel we expected and instead, it’s a minigame feast from start to finish involving the titular twosome who capture criminals by completing a random selection of quick-burst puzzles.

BECAUSE OF COURSE IT IS!

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YUP!

So yeah, Robo and Mobo/Mike and Spike return in Sherlock Holmes garb for this puzzle-oriented game that is basically a minigame compilation. Choose one, win it, choose another, win it, beat the stage, etc…

There is literally nothing more to it than that. Literally.

Now my first knowledge of this game was from the Sega Classics Collection on the PS2, a mish-mash of broken biscuit-style games heaped together from the Sega Ages collection released in Japan. We got 8 games, all of which were a bit shonky, but were at least trying to be as desperately faithful to the original as possible, and one of them was a double feature. We did manage to get Bonanza Bros alongside this puzzling counterpart so for the first time in the UK, we could experience the moderate wackiness of TANT-R. Or Ichidant-R. One of them. We got Tant-R essentially. But I think the version of the Mega Drive game I played with Ichidant-R. It was released in 1994.

LOOK. IT’S COMPLICATED BUT KEEP UP. THIS IS THE MEGA DRIVE VERSION. IT HAS PUZZLES. DEAL WITH IT.

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So here we go, let’s start picking through the ludicrous minigames on display in this game. There aren’t EXACTLY a massive amount and there is a definite amount of repetition to be had here. You will be repeating games, albeit with a gradual increase in difficulty, so get used to trying to select your favourites IF YOU CAN.

Shall we take a quick traverse through each of them or would you prefer a cup of tea?

NO TEA. MOVING ON.

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Let’s start with a number crunching one. What you’re presented with here are four digits flicking quickly from one to the next. You have to try and select the number that corresponds to and contains those four digits all within a specific time scale. On harder difficulties, you’re left with all of about six seconds to do it. It’s not as HARD as it sounds though. If anything, this is definitely one of the easier ones. It’s looking at numbers. And finding numbers.

WHOA NELLY. SLOW DOWN. TOO MUCH NUMBERING.

In reality though, this is one of the simplest ones and unless you suffer from dyscalculia, you’ll have no real problems with this one. If you do, steer clear. There are more that you’ll appreciate.

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A sense of timing is needed in the stopwatch minigame. And yes. It is exactly what you think it will be. You have three chances to stop a stopwatch WITHIN THE TIME ASKED FOR. LE GASP. I know. Shocking. This is purely down to split-second timing HO HO HO PUN PUN NOT ACTUALLY A PUN BUT FUCK IT and if you’ve got any sense of timing at all, you’ll be fine. It is tricky, purely because you have such a small window with which to hit the button. But succeed once, and you’re out of there. It could last five seconds or it could last 15. If it lasts 15, you need to learn to dance.

Because timing.

And dance is fun anyway.

But timing. Yes.

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Stepping up a notch is the Robot Factory game where you have a flat panel full of robot bits and a blueprint to make up. Clicking the right pieces in the time will build you a robot that whirrs, cranks and has two frames of animation otherwise. This one can be quite tricky purely based on two things: your eyesight and your precision. If you can’t spot the pieces, you’re flailing about trying desperately to find it in the time which leads to errors. If you’re not precise enough and think you’ve highlighted the piece you want and you HAVEN’T, then that leads to errors as well. The time limit in the early rounds is fine. When you’re given all of about 18 seconds by the end of it, then you’re panicking trying to find the last FUCKING ARM TO THIS FUCKING ROBOT.

All of this is made trickier by the bland colour scheme and the chequered background which really messes your eyes about. HOW CRUEL YOU ARE, SEGA. HOW CRUEL.

It’s also fun with two players trying to finish first. This is probably one of the better two player games as there is at list a bit of skill and competition to be had here. There’s no real reason for anyone to perform poorly unless they suck at videogames. Or life. OR BOTH.

But videogames ARE life…

Touché, Wellsy. Touché.

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Get ready to listen to some AWFUL sound effects here as we’re on to SIMON SAYS but with animal noises! In sequence, animals will moo, bark, roar, meow, ribbit and oink and you just have to remember the sequence in order in the VERY SHORT time limit. Have a shitty memory? These animals will make you feel BAAAAAAd about it… there’s not even a sheep in there, Wellsy, the fuck is wrong with you?

It’s irritating, particularly the noises, but it’s pretty simple, even though some of the later sequences are HORRIBLE and incredibly fast. It’s definitely not a repeat game. Definitely not.

But then again, when the bloody thing RIBBIT RIBBIT WOOF MEOW MOOS at you constantly, you’d get pretty pissed off too.

MOVING ON!

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OH GOOD GOD. WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO MY EYES, GAME?

This one is a FIND WHERE THE SEQUENCE STARTS game – see that list of five symbols at the top? Those are the ones you have to find and you have to click the first symbol on the board. Worst thing? Horizontal AND vertical come into play here. There are elements to this game that you can use to help you. If there are two matching symbols in the line, you can usually use that to help you but in reality, it’s like a symbol wordsearch. It’s basically the Hieroglyphic wordsearch.

I blame the Ancient Egyptians for this game. I really do. And Vegas.

Or whoever invented those fucking symbols for casino machines and whatnot. I mean really. THOSE MACHINES NEVER GIVE ME CHERRIES. THEY’RE A WASTE OF TIME. And there’s no bar in them either. It’s false advertising!

Anyway.

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Who likes to clear the clang clang of irritating CLANGING noises? If you do then you’re about to want to pour bleach into your own ears because you won’t after this! CLANG CLANG CLANG of moving gems aside… it’s a tile puzzle game. One of those games where you have to move the tiles and make the picture. Those AWFUL GAMES that everyone hates. Those ones.

Well guess what? They made it less annoying.

Because of course, no one’s going to be able to complete one of those fucking puzzles in the space of 40 seconds unless they’re either ridiculously talented in MOVING TILE PUZZLES or [INSERT OWN REASON HERE].

So that’s no one then.

It’s made much easier by the fact you only need to get all of the specifically-asked-for gems into a specific area of the grid so that means you don’t have to worry about the other gems at all. As long as you get all of the red/blue/green ones in, you’re sorted. Tip for anyone trying it, get all of the gems of one colour near to each other or at least in a line and then MOVE THE TILES!

I’M NOT ONE OF THEM. I DON’T EVEN LIKE THESE GAMES.

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Rattling through a few of the other games, there’s the exploding frog game – so called because if you fail, the frog explodes like a balloon. You have to help the frog traverse all of the tiles ONLY ONCE so that he doesn’t EXPLODE. Because frogs explode, y’know. If they don’t touch every lily pad in the entire world, they’ll die. Good grief. THEY’LL DIE. This one sounds easy but is atrociously hard at times. You think you’re there and thenyou’re backtracking for ten seconds, only to find the timer’s down to five and you’ve STILL got no idea and then you’re a frog murderer.

A frog murderer.

You frog murderer, you.

Don’t even look at me. Frog murderer.

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There’s also the WAKE UP THE CHICKEN game where you mash the B button until it explodes, waking up the chicken. You have to do this up to four times in an increasingly shortening time frame.

Good luck with that. Also, DON’T WAKE THE FUCKER UP. I NEED SOME FUCKING SLEEP. IT’S HALF TERM. STOP WAKING UP THE CHICKEN.

STOP POPPING BALLOONS.

STOP POPPING RANDOM BALLOONS TO WAKE UP CHICKENS, YOU BASTARD.

Other than this, there’s also a maze game where you find your way through a series of increasingly tricky mazes with plenty of backtracking involved; a ninja game where you have to find the hidden ninja BUT NOT THE PURPLE ONE; a ‘find the flower under the hat’ game, which is basically a cup and ball game but without the slight of hand or cheating; and there’s also a game which I couldn’t play on this Japanese version because all of the hints for it were in Japanese (SHOCKING, I KNOW) so trying to select the right shape that fit the criteria was never going to happen without a modicum of luck.

All of these puzzles and games are super wholesome and family-friendly, of course.

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INDEED.

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PERFECTLY.

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WHOLESOME.

I mean, what the fuck, Sega? Everything’s been FINE up until now and then suddenly you throw in the half-naked man and woman RANDOMLY and tell me to slot the pieces back together into the right place? THAT’S HOW THIS WORKS?

Although it is good fun in the two-player game as well… but THIS IMAGE is thrown in for good measure when the other pictures are of trains and cars and fish and cats… then THIS.

Because of reasons. Obviously. Like… duh.

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And then there’s the bonus level. Fly around collecting balloons and avoiding ‘bombs’ – do it well enough and get an extra life.

Whoop whoop.

But if this game is so fun, why is it only a ‘Sorta…’ review?

Because there are about twelve minigames and that’s it.

How can I justify a good review for something that really only contains enough minigames to be fun for twenty minutes at the most? Yeah, it’s great fun in the two-player mode but… well… yeah. We’re severely lacking in ACTUAL content.

OK. So I counted.There are sixteen in fact.

So maybe half an hour instead of twenty minutes.

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Plus you get this as your ending. It tells you what games you played and how many times.

Accomplishment. They went all out on this one.

Now, I will be honest, I did get a lot of enjoyment from this but I have to admit that I did enjoy the remake of it a HELL of a lot more purely because there were twice as many minigames that used the PS2 a lot better. But hey… given that this was probably one of the first games of its kind, I suppose I can cut it a little bit of slack.

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WHOLESOME FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT, PEOPLE.

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

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