In an era with so many platforms for developers to put their works on, many games have seen the light of day that otherwise would have been shot down in the past. One of those games is UsagiMan [Free], a quirky Japanese game that has just hit the iOS platform, and pays homage to Mega Man, old school platformers, and rabbits.
The quirk factor kicks in right away, with the title of the game. "Usagi" is roughly translated into "rabbit" in English, and the main character sports a bunny suit complete with adorable floppy ears. You'll also fight abstract enemies like giant spikes balls and turrets instead of your typical robots, so it's definitely not your average platformer. Instead of forcing you to deal with a virtual d-pad and buttons, UsagiMan utilizes a scheme consisting entirely of touch controls -- the good news is, they work.
You'll simply tap the screen to have UsagiMan leap to an area, using a wire/string-like momentum to "pull" himself towards your selected destination. You can tap as quickly as you like to move him along quickly, and you can also tap enemies to shoot a projectile attack. Your shots stun enemies, which allows you to either shoot them more or "slam" into them with your wire attack.
It's fast, it's fun, and it's a well designed formula that lets you mix things up a bit. You can opt to just fire your weapon willy nilly, or go for a more melee-based approach. This is especially applicable on boss fights, which are setup very similarly to an old school NES-era game. They often resort to repetitive tactics and don't really transcend the genre, but I was surprised to find that they actually work with this odd touch-based formula. The physics engine is basically a 1:1 re-creation of the first six Mega Man games, which is both odd and welcoming.
This is a free game, but it is ad-supported -- even in-game. While it's generally not a problem at all, the ads are placed on the bottom corner of the screen, which can accidentally be touched during normal gameplay. Every few levels or so I accidentally hit it, taking me out of the game and into the App Store.Β It's a small price to pay, but it can get extremely annoying, especially in close situations.
UsagiMan is a relatively short experience, which is a shame given how fun it is. You're basically getting a set of five levels and three upgrades (which are pretty menial at that), and that's it. I'd love to see a fully fledged version on iOS with more upgrades, stages, and perhaps even a full-on "eight Robot Master" level selection setup a la Mega Man. With some fine tuning and a bit of expansion, UsagiMan could be something really special.
As it stands, UsagiMan is a relatively pleasant surprise. It's free, it's fun, and it offers up an afternoon of entertainment if you can deal with the sometimes annoying ads. It's also a neat way for Mega Man fans to relive some of the franchise's former glory, even if it's fleeting.
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