The GoodTotsugeki! Mix
is a "sister game" to Rusty
, another PC-98-exclusive platformer developed by the little-known Japanese company C-lab.
. Both games are very similar to each other and at the same time very different. While Rusty
is a dark Castlevania
-inspired journey through ominous undead abodes, Totsugeki! Mix
is a typical representative of the ultra-colorful, bright platforming scene of the mid-nineties.
Whether the Japanese "cute" style is a good or bad thing is a matter of taste, but I think Totsugeki! Mix
manages to be cute in a strangely attractive rather than irritating way. It is set in imaginative worlds full of all kinds of improbably constructions and populated by even more improbable enemies. You'll be jumping your way through sugar candy levels and fighting top hat-wearing ostriches. Everything is very colorful, but there is an underlying weirdness that makes the brightness of the levels and the childishly non-threatening toy-like enemies interesting rather than sickening. Some of the locations are beautiful in that particular detailed way that distinguishes games for PC-98, a machine that could handle background images much better than anything animated.
You can choose between three playable characters in Totsugeki! Mix
. While this feature was unfortunately not implemented perfectly, it is always good when a game lets you try out different protagonists. The double-jump ability that one of the characters has is something I'd like to see more in platform games. Elegantly avoiding enemies and discovering shortcuts through tough segments is as satisfying as ever.
, Totsugeki! Mix
has excellent level design. The levels are large, but not confusingly so; there is always exploration to be done, and all sorts of hard-to-reach areas that offer tempting rewards. I really dislike platformers where all you do is run from side to side, jumping over occasional chasms and fighting hordes of enemies. I could never get into beat-em-ups or plain side-scrolling action because of their monotonous progression. Vertical dimension exists for a reason, and it is nicely integrated into Totsugeki! Mix
The necessity to retrieve items in order to unlock new levels sometimes turns into a nuisance. I like exploration, but I don't want to be forced to get some needless gizmos in a platformer. I known this have become a tendency in many other games ("collect 68 stars and you can proceed" etc.), but I'd prefer a more straightforward approach.
The three characters are unfortunately not very balanced. I found the red-haired girl pretty much useless, since she is slow, and her lack of speed is not compensated by greater attack power. The blue-haired one is fun to control, but I don't see any reason not to use the green-haired one for all purposes, since she is the only one who can double-jump, thus removing a lot of tedium in platform navigation.Totsugeki! Mix
is a sweet game, but it does nothing we haven't seen before. It is a fun and appealing platformer, but it could have been even better if it was injected with more originality. It would have benefited greatly from more refined gameplay mechanics and perhaps other abilities and setpieces beyond the basic enemy-hacking and platforming.
The Bottom Line
Despite its fairly archaic gameplay and lack of any substantial innovation, Totsugeki! Mix
is an entertaining, colorful platformer with surprisingly good level design and solid gameplay. The Japanese "kawaii" style doesn't prevent it from being a challenging game and contributes to its appeal. Like its "twin" Rusty
, it is one of the best non-hentai exclusive games for the PC-98.