Aa Harimanada is a game of little mystery - it's about sumo wrestling, plain and simple. In fact, the first thing I see when I start up the game is the image to the left, that of a very intense sumo wrestler who appears to have a unibrow instead of eyes. Which, yeah, that's cool. I was worried it was going to be a sumo wrestling simulator or something where I had to worry about eating the right meals and throwing puppies through flaming hoops or whatever sumos do to train. But no, that's not it at all. It's much less subtle. But we'll get to that.
First of all, though, this music is bumpin'. Whoever wrote this is a talented chiptuner, and I wish I could play them for you. Oh, wait, I can! I'll just download the GBS file from Zophar's Domain, convert them to WAV, convert the WAV to an OGG, reverse the polarities and recalibrate the electron ratio....
There we go, that's the title music up first, then the in-game music. See? I told you it was bumpin'. Like a bumper car in a pinball machine. ...is bumping even a word people use to describe things anymore? Is it natural for me to drop the g and add an apostrophe? AM I RELEVANT??
|No I'm not relevant I'm playing old Game Boy games about Sumo wrestling.|
And then I get 5 options, all of which seem to do the same thing - take me to the beginning of a sumo wrestling match. First, I get the option of choosing how far I am from the line -
|- like so.|
Although it doesn't seem to matter. I always start as close as possible to the other wrestler. But whatever.
Then the match begins, sort of. If I dont press B, the match just cancels and I get thrown back to the menu. Game Boy games are weird.
But if I do hit B, then BAM, it's time for the delicate ballet that is sumo wrestling.
|My rendition of Swan Lake features twice as many wedgies|
So there are two meters at the bottom that I don't understand. The first one will sit really low for a while, then suddenly jump all the way to the top with no warning before resetting to zero. It does not seem to affect the game in the least.
The second one appears to be a breath meter - the harder I work, the lower it gets and the less effective my moves are. Maybe. I genuinely can't tell what's going on at any given moment.
But it seems that the best strategy is a careful balance between aggression and defensiveness. Choosing moves wisely is necessary for victory.
Ha ha, I'm just kidding, the best strategy is to mash all the buttons until someone wins. The D-pad seems to select moves, and hitting B (or A?) will execute them, but just mashing everything seems to be very very effective.
I admit that there's probably more to it than slamming the Game Boy against a wall, and I did find that there were times when pushing someone out of the ring involved actual strategy. But mostly it involved button mashing.
Anyway, when I win, I'm treated to high quality pixel art of a sumo wrestler losing. I've carefully archived all of the art I could get, and labelled them with the official names of the winning move.
So that's about the size of it, right? I mean, button mashing to win isn't exactly compelling material, and all the matches seem to be exactly the same. At the same time, I find myself oddly drawn to this game of seemingly endless sumo.
But then I lose a couple of times and it's GAME OVER. I'm not sure what the exact criteria is for GAM OVR but at this point I'm pretty over the game. It doesn't seem like there's any sort of end game here, just get as many wins as possible before dying.
But just for kicks, let's look up the game and see what we can find.
|Let's also admire one of my many victories.|
As it turns out, Aa Harimanada was a manga and anime about a sumo wrestler named Harimanada (surprise) who comes out of nowhere and declares that he will win 69 matches in a row. It's a standard shonen sort of monster-a-week thing, but it gives me an idea of what the win condition for this game must be. Now, with renewed focus I boot the game up again while shouting "I AM INVINCIBLE" to the sky.
69 victories, here we come.
|DEATH TO ALL WHO OPPOSE ME|
I breeze through 14 matches with no losses and finally start to see the beginnings of a story form. I get a trophy of some sort, and new characters appear to speak Japanese at me. I also start to feel like I'm genuinely getting better at this game, and my confidence rises.
|I WIN AGAIN oh wait that's the other guy. Damnit.|
Ugh. I think three losses is when everything goes to the dogs, and I'm already one third of the way there. But I can't lose - I am invincible Harimanada! And I'm getting really good at typing Harimanada! That has to count for something.
|"Your typing skills can't save you now, Hairy-mana-duh!!!"|
Things are getting intense up in here - more and more intimidating cut scenes appear and I'm button bashing for my life. I'm starting to see the flow of the game, and I can see when I'm about to lose, but I don't know what to do about it except button bash some more. It's like watching pachinko in slow-mo, seeing the balls drain down with no control over the final result.
|God I really wish I knew what any of this meant.|
But, as it goes, I end up losing enough matches to get a game over somewhere around match 30. So much for invincible Clint. But that's okay, I think I've learned something valuable from this whole ordeal. I've learned that perseverance in the face of adversity does NOT pay off, and never try anything because you'll just lose in the end.