Back in the summer of 2003, I frequented Sento's import board on good ole GameTZ, you know, back when folk had time to discuss obscure import games and such. Usually I find the obscure games myself, but Sento introduced me to Hissatsu! His description was simple: "If you enjoyed Shinobi Legions, you might like this one." Having been a fan of SL, I went on a two year hunt to track down Hissatsu! Two summers later, 2005, I finally got my hands on one. Was it worth the wait and $50+ it commanded? (Pat, wherever you are buddy, hope all is well) "Please... come join me in the darkness..."
Right off the bat, this game reminded me slightly of Shinrei Taromaru thanks to its dark gloomy stages and characters
To put it in Pat's eloquent words:
"Hissatsu! is based on a Japanese TV drama series from the 1970's, about four men who are tradesmen by day but assassins by night with a code of honor and good intentions, and of course, all the contradictions that would imply for suitably dramatic and campy plot devices. Think spaghetti western crossed with samurai tales against a soundtrack consisting of one mournful trumpet accompanied by an equally morose yet heroic acoustic guitar like in old Zorro movies, and that's the feel of Hissatsu!"
Hissatsu! opens up with a pretty nice intro, and as Pat stated, the one mournful trumpet playing throughout. There's a surreal still graphic hand-drawn artstyle to the whole intro, with surreal colors and lighting. Pretty cool stuff
There are four characters to select from. The unique thing being, you get to select two of them before each new stage. Once all two characters' energy bars are depleted, it's game over. You get seven oil lamps as max health. One character is in play at a time, and to switch simply press L or R on the fly... pretty cool huh? It adds some strategy, definitely. Unfortunately it's 1 player only, however
Controls are as follows:
A = Attack
B = Light attack followed by block
C = Jump
Basic stuff. The block button comes in handy, and to change things up a little bit the character does a weak attack right before going into the block animation. This is kinda cool, but at times a detriment as that split second can cost you an oil lamp. Generally, control is OK but there are some tight spots where you go "But I hit the B button right after I landed from the jump and nothing came out!" KID could have tighten the controls a wee bit more
Without further ado, let's meet the four assassins by night...
A detective by day and wielder of traditional katana by night, Mondo's sword slash is very deadly and strikes fast. Unfortunately, it lacks range. His double swipe is useful for taking out enemies left and right. For his weak attack it's a quick upper slice. Just two of these will kill the enemy
A metal worker who sharpens metal pieces into throwing daggers for his evening escapees, he's a very useful character as he's able to toss daggers for long ranged kills. For his weak attack, he stabs close-ranged, but this technique requires 3 hits to kill. Up-close, he is basically a very lacking fighter. Get surrounded and it's all over...
TETSU THE NENBUTSU
Possessing one WICKED right hand and the power to throw fireballs, this guy is sweet because his fireball can go through several enemies at once! So the potential to kill more than just one bird with one stone is always present with this bad ass. His up-close combat punch also packs a wallop as just two punches will kill the opposition
A samisen (Japanese string instrument) maker by day, he also wields the lethal extending samisen string capable of spearing his victims. His main attack is a bit "useless" as the smarter enemies tend to duck them, leaving poor Yuji open for an attack. His weak attack however hits middle and generally is unduckable (is that a word?) but is weak and takes THREE (not two like Tetsu or Mondo) hits to kill
In addition to tagging in and out, each character has a blue bar. When a main attack is used, the bar will drain, if fully drained, all you can then use is your weak 2nd attack. You will have to wait til the bar replenishes itself. This is where you may want to tag in and out to keep bars fresh and whatnot
Management of your blue bar is critical!
The game is quite bloody as well... not for the weak hearted... NIPPON!
Let's take a look at the game's first three stages
Remember: Tradesmen by day.... ASSASSINS BY NIGHT!!
Indeed. Switch to the long-ranged characters and these bits become quite the riot as you knock off baddies from a position of safety
Only Tetsu or Hide can reach the baddie there. Unfortunately, you are Mondo and Yuji. Who you select before each stage will go a long way in determining how much success you'll have with this brutally difficult game
He truly is. Hell, he does nothing but scamper away and block occasionally. Later bosses are the complete opposite, so enjoy it now... and yes, the cut scenes are the best!
SICK! Depending on who gets the final blow, you'll be treated to the bloke's preferred method of JUSTICE
They do make it fun to muck about here...
... At least until the cavalry shows up, anyhow!
Maybe Tetsu is Ryu's grandfather? Maybe!
Very powerful indeed, but also eats up a lot of blue energy, d'oh!
Bastards multiply like freakin' bunnies...
The 3rd stage, taking place inside a dark dingy cave with eerie deity statues, will tax you. It took me forever to beat. Hint: Hide MUST be one of your guys here, or you have a snowball's chance in hell!
Indeed. And wait til you see level 4... goodness
The 4th stage zone 1 is currently where I'm stuck, a very long level with loads of enemies, and their AI and difficulty ramp up ten fold. Be prepared to take small steps so you can handle a few enemies at a time, rather than moving hastily and end up having to deal with 5 (instant way to die). Be ready to block a lot as well. Loads o' trial and error
I'm not sure how many stages there are, but each of the first three have two zones each. The first stage can lull you into a false sense of security... then suddenly the game turns into a hardcore SUPREMEWARRIORCHALLENGE! Momma boys certainly need not apply
My friend Pat wasn't too high on this game, but I quite liked it back in 2005. Pat thought the game was strictly average, rating it 5/10. It's certainly not a masterpiece by any means, the rather basic level design won't set anyone's world on fire, and the bland-ish baddies are nothing to write home about, but despite all that, I still enjoyed my time with Hissatsu! I guess part of why: how few of these type-games Saturn has
I like the fact that all the game's stages take place at night, making it a great game to pick up at night with the lights turned off. The visuals, the music, the mood, it all gives it a very somber vibe. The bosses pretty much blow, but I liked the boss hiding out upstairs being guarded by a protector who you'll have to go through. Hissatsu! is nothing special, but I think 16-bit fans may get a kick out of seeing this old school-ish title on their Saturn. It's got a certainsimple "Sega Genesis feel" to it. And truth be told, I really wish the Saturn had more 'basic' games like this. It doesn't come close to taxing the immense 32-bit horsepower of the Sega Saturn, and it feels like one of them hair-pulling 16-bit titles I played back in the early-mid '90s. I just don't think the Sega Saturn saw enough 2D action games. While Hissatsu! is only slightly above average at best, at least they tried. And damn, did I wish more companies put out games akin to this. Improved in the gameplay department, mind you, but I dig the 16-Bit vibe that bleeds out of Hissatsu!
... No pun intended
Just a good ole-fashioned tough nut of a 2D action game. Flawed, but campy and can provide for a couple nights of cheap entertainment. Should have had a 2-player mode, but the tagging option definitely gets my props for being something different
Now, back to Shinobi Legions....
Thanks to Kent Rittenhouse for supplying pictures
Thanks to YAKUMO (segagagadomain.com) for Hissatsu! cover