Monday, March 1, 2021

Matter of Import 43: Lupin III [Taitlo 1980]

Taito's 1980 Lupin III game came at the height of the character's anime and manga popularity, though licensing issues – the French IP didn't enter public domain until 2012 – prevented its export to the US.

The arcade game fits into the maze chase genre. As Lupin you are to grab bags of money, evading an increasing number of guards and dogs, and bring them to a staging area. Grab all the bags and you're treated to a cut-scene of what looks like Lupin bringing the goods to his love interest – in some cut-scenes she chastises him to bring her more, in others she rewards his theft with love.

The maze in each stage is the same, and arranged around UI elements such as your score and "M.Energy." I assume this stands for "Mental Energy" and is consumed when you activate your panic button – a hyperspace like feature that teleports you from where you are to elsewhere in the maze. Sometimes it doesn't move you at all. Sometimes it throws you right where you want to be.

The figures in the maze come in three types. First, there's this guy with a stick. Inspector Zenigata, maybe? He'll chase you, move to cut you off, and generally try to make your day harder. The other guys – ordinary guards, I suppose – are a little more random and less direct in their pursuit of you. Finally, there are the guard dogs... they simply run back and forth, but have a habit of stopping when you need to pass through an intersection.

Touch any of them and you go to jail. Lose all your lives and you're treated to a losing cutscene of Lupin being sent to prison.

As a game it isn't bad, it's themed well enough for the show, and it's certainly playable. It uses screen overlays for color, which isn't great. I'll give it a C rating.

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