Monday, February 15, 2021

Matter of Import 034: Yosaku to Donbei (Arcade, 1979)

 

Yosaku To Donbei (Yosaku and Donbei) is another twist on the Space Invaders formula. This time the player is a farmer trying to shoot crows out of a tree while his lumberjack buddy cuts it down. A larger bird will occasionally fly by overhead, fulfilling the role of Space Invaders' saucer.

The art is primitive even for 1979, with blocky sprites and simple color overlays over black and white graphics. Still, the idea of mapping Space Invaders into a game about chopping down a tree is clever, and it plays better than the only other tree-chopping game I can think of – 1983's Forest for the Atari 2600.

The enemy here are arranged into a pyramid rather than a rectangle, and every time they reach the side of the screen your lumberjack manages to chop out a section of the trunk, lowering it. However, the birds have the disconcerting ability to blink in and out of existance, and their shots – acorns or bird poop or whatever it is – fall from the tree without much regard for the birds in it.

It's also somewhat difficult to tell where the player is at times, particularly if you're overlapping the lumberjack.

The game's difficulty comes from poor design, at times, and as there's no grace period after death you can swiftly just walk back into enemy fire.

So. Interesting? Yes. Pleasing to the eyes? No. Fun to play? Also no.

Yosaku To Donbei gets a D ranking.

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