Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Matter of Import 81: Marine Boy [Orca 1982]


Another simple quickly produced arcade title from Orca that never left Japan, in Marine Boy you play a diver collecting dolphins and mermaids from the depths. At the beginning of each stage you dive into the water, swimming vertically down alongside a trench wall, avoiding or killing most of the sea life you encounter. Dolphins and mermaids give you points when you collect them. The other fish, eels, killer whales, and crabs will kill you with a touch. Jellyfish are a special case; they merely sting and paralyze you for a short time.

Your weapon against these beasts is some kind of… I don’t know, it looks like that Loony Toons extending boxing glove, but it’s probably a knife or spear or something. It doesn’t extend too far from the body, but you can swing it around as you turn, to hit the sea creatures menacing you.

You’ve also got an oxygen meter for each stage, but it doesn’t seem to deplete fast enough to be a factor, at least not in the early levels I bothered to play. When you reach the bottom of the trench you’ll find a giant clamshell that contains a larger mermaid; reach her and you’ll get bonus points for all your remaining oxygen and for each mermaid collected along the way.

For a game that’s one long extended water level the controls aren’t too bad. The graphics are in the same cartoony Orca style that feels just a little bit dated in 1982, and you do get to see new sea creatures every level… but the gameplay itself is too simple to really be engaging, and not in that addictive way. Feels more like a near-miss than their other titles, but a miss is still a miss.

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