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version: jp - year: 1987 - developer: bit2 - publisher: panasoft - format: msx2, cartridge- condition: good - rarity: hard to find

3 radically different games developed by 3 different Software Houses in the same year...Interesting approach!






















Review - “Prologue - The evil Banutracus had destroyed the great civilization of the planet Nepenthus and brought it down to a primitive state. War broke out between the planet's humble Eletrian people and Banutracus's barbarous Cooligan invaders. After a long struggle, the Eletrians got united under the powerful leadership of one they called the father and managed to obtain a momentary peace. Howerver, when Banutracus returned to his planet he killed the father and re-established his hold. One Cooligan Gea saw the evil nature of Banutracus and escaped with the father's only daughter Neshah to one of the great ruined Eletrian cities. There, they had a son. When the boy grew to be a strong young man, one of the Cooligan soldiers discovered their hideout and killed his escaped parents. From that day, the boy swore vengeance on Banutracus and to eventually restore peace to the planet.”

This text comes from the intro of the game and basically it is the only piece of information I managed to get about Ashguine's story. Some of the names could be misspelled too (like Coolican or Cooligan or whatever else) because of the font used in the game. The letters “C” and “G” look identical!

Anyway,Ashguine seems like a character based on an anime or a manga (although I am not sure if that's the case) and what is curious about the Ashguine trilogy is that not only it shares the same logo but it should feature the same story with the same characters for the 3 games. And each game has been developed by a different Software House in the same year.Apparently, the character was popular back in the late ‘80s in Japan since there were also Ashguine-branded MSX2 computers on the market!

Ashguine is a side-scrolling fantasy action-adventure game which looks a bit obsolete. The scrolling is a bit weird as it seems to refresh not fast enough. The effect looks weird but once you get used to it, you'll appreciate the fact that backgrounds are varied and feature a nice amount of detail. The color palette is initially very limited although further into the game, it is used much better. The main character animation is surprisingly well done, with a lot of frames. Even the tail has its own animation!

The music suffers a bit from the weakness of the MSX chips but it overall sounds very good and it is definitely evocative and epic. Gameplay is slightly slow-paced and it isn't entirely linear as you'll have to talk to characters and collect various objects such as orbs or herbs. Sometimes, it isn't immediately clear to whom you should give the items you find though, because the text is in Japanese.

As for the weapons, you start out with your bare hands but after you gain a few experience points, you'll be able to swing your tail. Also, by returning an orb to one of the characters, you'll be able to grab lethal throwing knives which are very effective but they are limited to only 300 so use them wisely!

One thing I didn't like is that when you reach the end of a level and you walk towards the end of the screen, enemies will often keep on appearing and this makes them hard to see and to avoid. Honestly, I didn't finish the game because I got stuck in a level where there's some sort of T-Rex look-alike boss with antennas who shoots projectiles. He seems to be invulnerable to my attacks…

In the end, Ashguine is an early MSX2 game which didn't age particularly well although some aspect of it still manage to transmit effectively a very particular and pleasant atmosphere of a remote fantasy universe.

Of the trilogy, Ashguine is probably the best one but this is not a big achievement considering that the other games are pretty average.

Bottom line: An average action / adventure game for your MSX2, with a nice atmosphere. 6,5/10










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