Wonder Momo – All the Game’s a Stage

Wonder Momo ReviewI’m a complete freaking nerd.  I get that; I’ve made my peace with that.  I’ve also made peace with the fact that, despite my limitless and unprecedented manliness, I like things that are a bit girly.  Enter Wonder Momo: a one-off game Namco developed in the 80s that’s made a resurgence lately.  I’ve recently been checking out the webcomic and show, and I really like them.

So, who is Wonder Momo?  To find that out, I’d like to take a look at her first video game.  Now sit down, my curious friend, and let me tell you the origins of the Battle Idol and her seemingly unending battle against perverts!

Game: Wonder Momo

Console: PC Engine

Developer: Namco

Publisher: Namco

Release Year: 1989

Wonder Momo is a game that parodies the Tokusatsu genre of T.V. shows that were popular in Japan (Power Rangers and Big, Bad Beetleborgs are pretty good examples for westerners), and it was developed and published by Namco, and, despite their legacy in the States established by Pac Man and Galaga, they decided not to bring Wonder Momo over here.  If I had to make a guess, I’d say because the main character is constantly flashing her taint, but what do I know.

wonder-momo-cover

Alright, I doctored this.  There’s nothing in this pic that interests Takei.

There may be some truth in that previous statement.  The game tends to focus way too much on the female protagonist and her panties.

Stay classy, Japan.

Anyway, Wonder Momo started life as an arcade game back in ’87 and got ported to the PC Engine as a HuCard game in ’89.  It’s kind of a difficult game to describe.  It’s a 2D side-scrolling beat-em-up that’s structured a lot like a comical action game.  If you’re unfamiliar with comical action games, it might be due to the fact that most don’t leave Japan.  Basically, a comical action game consists of one-screen levels full of enemies, and all enemies must be defeated before a level is beaten.  Mario Bros. and Bubble Bobble are probably the best examples of the genre for Western gamers.

422px-bubble_bobble_nes_box1

Putting a Jimmie Walker quote on your boxart and not doing this should be illegal.

Unlike most comical action games, Wonder Momo isn’t a platformer, and killing all the enemies on a stage isn’t necessary.  Instead, you just keep killing until a “big enemy” arrives.  Kill it and the level is beaten.  Repeat ad nauseum and you have a pretty good idea of what the game has to offer.  Though repetitious, there’s something alluring about watching a ridiculously thin and tiny girl impossibly decimating armies of monsters without breaking a sweat.

It’s like a Joss Whedon wet dream.

Now, if you pervs can peel your eyes away from under-aged crotch shots for like 2 seconds, I want you to notice all the guys at the bottom of the screen.  This is Momo’s audience, and the wooden structure in front of them is her stage.  That’s right; this is all just a show for perverted man-children to get some cheap thrills, and you play as the object of their affection.

To answer your next questions: Yes, it does make you feel kind of dirty; and, no, there is no amount of showering that can wash away the shame.

Though a few bubble baths might do the trick.

The above pic is actually from the game.  Every few levels, players are treated with a pic of Momo getting all sexy-like!

82″ 57″ 84″?  Only if she 5’3″!

Beating the game = Sexy PC Engine winnings!

As bonerific as these pics may be, they do very little in advancing the plot… I think.  I can’t tell.  My Japanese is a little rusty, which is unfortunate because I genuinely want to know what’s going on.  Is she just an actor?  Is she in any real danger?  Why are all those things attacking her?  Where’d she get her powers?  Is that a Putty from The Power Rangers?

Is it!?

After playing through the game, none of this is answered or even addressed, probably.  My understanding of the Japanese language is non-existent.  Therefore, I decided Momo is an extreme improvisational actress/exhibitionist who invites people to dress up and go on stage to try and kill her.  But, unbeknownst to the volunteers, Momo is not just your average, school girl/hentai star.  She is also “Wonder Momo!: The hula hoop-throwing, helmet-wearing hentai star!”

Faster than a Japanese businessman!  More powerful than a roomful of slimy tentacles!

While transformed, Wonder Momo cannot be damaged by projectiles, and her stupid-ass hula hoop is actually kind of sweet until it starts bouncing all over the place after throwing it at someone.  Trying to get it back is the best way to get killed in this game.

Wonder Momo’s desire to grab the hula hoop parallels that of the sweaty audience’s desire for more panty shots: Both are iffy endeavors.

Go ahead and take another gander at the above screen shot, and pay attention to the graphics and environments this time, you sickos!  To put it bluntly, this game looks like “meh.”  Granted, everything accurately depicts what it’s supposed to be representing (Yep.  That’s a tree), but everything just looks boring.  The colors come across as muted compared to other PCE games, and the lack of any parallax-scrolling is sorely missed.

One could argue that the environments are static because the settings were probably made of cardboard standups and/or backdrops.  That makes sense considering the game takes place on a stage, but then I think it would have been sweet had the developers played that aesthetic up.  Enemies could fly at you while dangling from visible wires, cardboard standups could pop out a little to show depth, or maybe you could see some movement in the environments that are being manipulated by some sort of machines backstage.  Any of these things could have simultaneously reinforced the game’s theme and made the game not look like butt.  I understand that PCE is only an 8-bit system, but I’ve seen it do much more than what Wonder Momo has to offer.

What Wonder Momo does have to offer is infuriating controls and a frustrating level of difficulty.  First, the controls.  Button II kicks and Button I jumps.  Pretty standard, but Wonder Momo decided to be weird/stupid by allowing Momo to have “stances.”

These are her mugshots for playing accomplice to shitty game mechanics.

The left and right stances are the same.  Press II and she kicks in that direction.  It’s the middle stance that makes me want to punt babies.

A quick visual aid for the uninitiated in this proud, Irish sport.

The only thing you can do in the middle stance while standing is press II rapidly to Wonder Woman-spin a la Wonder Woman and become Wonder Momo.  Sounds pretty useful unless you consider the fact that you can transform into Wonder Momo by just getting hit by a tornado, which in turn makes this method of transforming redundant and inconvenient most of the time.

Kids!  Tornadoes make you stronger!  Try this at home!

However, if you don’t press II rapidly, she rotates a little and then stops, causing damage to and inspiring fear in no one.  This becomes abundantly frustrating when, say, you want to turn around and plant your sneaker into the mouth of the jabroni who was trying to sneak up on you.  If you don’t hold the direction down long enough, you’ll go into the middle stance and spin like a tard instead.  Once you develop the habit to accommodate for the extra time needed to turn and attack, the game’s not so bad.  Plus, you’ll find that the middle stance not only has the most useful attacks, but it also has the most perverted.

I’ll let you think of a funny/inappropriate caption to put here.  I have standards.

Next, let’s discuss the game’s difficulty.  It’s hard… at first.  Figuring out the quirks of the middle stance and realizing that those stupid pink things that fly and shoot you aren’t worth your time are the first steps to making this game easier.  Unfortunately, you’ll also soon discover that the game is also very repetitive.  Thankfully, there are only 12 levels and unlimited continues.  So, suck all you want!  There’s no repercussions!

Maybe I should rephrase that…

The point of the game is to survive long enough for the boss to show up.  If you feel like killing things while you wait, that’s perfectly fine.  Might I suggest kicking things in the face until they deflate or explode?  Or maybe you’d rather hop over enemies and walk beneath the stupid pink things until the boss arrives? The choice is yours.  Just remember to kick the boss until he dies.  Upon his or her death, the curtain falls, and the act is over.  Rinse and repeat 12 times and a winner is you!

a-winner-is-you

And why wouldn’t I make this pic?

The enemies you face along the way range from “What?” to “Really?”  You’ll fight all the Tokusatsu classics, such as the Putties, Robots, Purple Guys, Bug People, your Evil Twin, Glaciers (?), and the occasional Tower of Ninja Dogs.

I really considered not showing this pic.  I wanted to preserve the mystique.

And by fight, I mean “get incredibly bored with.”  They just keep coming and coming.  The only enemy I like is the Photographer, and he’s more of an obstacle because all you can do is dodge him.  His attack?  Up-skirt shot, of course.  Thanks, Japan.

It’s saying something when the Mantis Alien isn’t the creepiest thing in this shot.

And that’s Wonder Momo.  It’s a short game that’s as perverse as it is derivative and monotonous.  In truth, I actually really like this game.  It’s mindless and very campy.  I recommend it to anyone who wants a quick laugh and doesn’t mind losing a couple of hours of their life in order to experience something unique, knowing full-well that those hours will be lost forever.

I’d like to end by saying that I freaking love the music in this game.  Though there are only like 2 tracks, the Main Theme and the Wonder Momo Theme, both are amazing, and I hum them all the time.  In fact, these tracks are so amazing, there was a pop star in Japan named Haruko Momoi who cosplayed as Wonder Momo.  She even made a short album dedicated to the game.  The title track combines the Main Theme and the Wonder Momo Theme and adds lyrics.  The video is pretty cool, too.  And, yes, I have this track on a CD in my car right now, just in case any of you were doubting my extreme nerd-ness.  I regret nothing!

Thanks for Your Playing!  Typically I end these articles with a question, but I can’t think of anything relevant. So… here’s a picture of Haruko Momoi wearing a Power Glove.  You’re welcome.

I love Haruko.  She’s so bad.

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