This game is very very strange! It's a scrolling shoot 'em up platformer -- best way to describe it. Based off the manga/anime you control a bloke who can fire bullets out of his hair. Doing the shooting? The organism which takes shelter in Kitarou's do, of course. Bizarre? You betcha
Unfortunately they don't go full-screen. Kitarou has a shield to block projectiles with, and 3 special weapons he can call upon, but can only use once you have killed a ghost creature and captured its soul. The more souls swiped, the more specials you can use
1 special move is a short cane like whip that I found utterly useless. Another is a sandal-type thing that goes across the bottom of the screen and back. The third is the BFG of the game. Multiple electric blasts are emitted from Kitarou's body. It's best saved for bosses as it inflicts a ton of damage
There are 19 levels but each stage is VERY short. You deal with a few regular baddies (some can be rather tough) and then you tackle the guardian boss. Some levels have as little as 2 enemies before the boss encounter! What the hell!
Some bosses include:
Witch (She can change you into small random objects)
Vampire in the form of a giant bat, accompanied with his legion of bat friends
TEN Dragon Heads... one at a time, the dragon heads dwelling from a dark cave set against a waterfall (nice)
The game, even though Kitarou and friends are kiddy looking and there's no blood whatsoever, isn't exactly rated-G. One boss, after you kill her, splits in half! Another impales an innocent bystander through the heart with her razor-hand! That definitely caught me off guard...
It's a shame how unfair the gameplay is, though. On certain levels there are very small platforms to jump on, but with spirits on you like bees on honey, it's almost impossible to avoid them. When hit, you'll fall to your death, thanks to the ridiculously small platforms
Another example: You must make leaps of faith where you can't even see the platform on the right until you jump, which forces the screen to only then stroll forward. In a game as hard as this, that's just wrong
On the upside, the monsters as I mentioned are something else. Level 1's boss is something you might see in Hayao Miyazaki's work (Spirited Away specifically) The graphics are real cartoony and excellent. And the music? Solid. Oriental flare and gets rather creepy-ish at the right moments
Another major plus: what is a super-hard 1 player game becomes an absolutely BRILLIANT not-so-rock-hard 2-player affair. The 2nd player controls a character who has a full screen fireball similar to Sagat's. With Kitarou blocking and the 2nd player firing away, the game takes on new life. It's been a while since I seen a game where 2 players made SUCH a drastic difference over the 1 player mode, in terms of gameplay, not just fun
After each level there are pictures and JP text to advance the story
"Chip? Monterey? Gadget? Zipper?!"
"Hey bud! Wrong tree house wrong show!"
"Oh, er... love what you done with the place"
Let's look at LEVEL 1
This 1st baddie requires several hits to kill and zips around like a mad flea
Then this lady appears from behind the tree. Don't be seduced... for her true colors are soon revealed...
Hey he looks pretty friendly "Hey Buddy! You want a breath mint? I got Grape -- "
"I GOT ORANGE, TOO!!"
GeGeGe no Kitarou is the kind of game you want to like so badly because of all its quirks, but the difficulty / cheapness ruins it. Can't recommend it whole-heartedly, but as a $5-$10 buy (provided you have a sibling or friend into these old games) it's not shabby....