Thursday, September 10, 2015

VGR Psycho Fox

Story goes this game's title was coined during a press conference by SEGA in which a kid's face was bitten by a real fox.

Yeah, I don't really believe it. Call this yet another unfounded Internet rumor. But I find the story hilarious enough to have it open this review. So, there!

VGR: Psycho Fox 
From VIC Tokai/Sega of Japan
Played on Sega Master System
Also available on /

Type Sidescroller platformer
Year 1989

Here's a blast from the past, a funny little game like no developed would release nowadays!

The perfectly titled Psycho Fox is a 1989 platformer game developed by the Japanese company VIC Tokai for Sega's Master System.

Often forgotten and completely under radar for most hardcore Sega fans, it's actually a perfect example of the type of games the Master System was great for.

The game started as a sort of remake/sequel of the NES game Kid Kool, also developed by VIC Tokai. In fact both games share a lot of similar design elements and odd controls that take some getting used to.

The story is... all over the place.

It's actually kind of rooted in deep Japanese folklore, but you don't really need all the details to enjoy it.

In Japan, foxes are kind of worshiped as a nature deity that promotes good harvest. The "fox god" is called the Inari Daimyojin. Some people believe our normal regular foxes actually possess supernatural abilities like the power to shapeshift...

Well, in "Psycho Fox", this evil god Madfox Daimyojin has corrupted the entire land. He took over the country and is now twisting the land and doing evil deeds... Is there someone that get rid of this evil deity!?

You play as Psycho Fox - a young Earth-bound fox that has the power to put a stop to Madfox Daimyojin. Madfox Daimyojin has sent all sorts of creatures to put a stop to you.

Thankfully Psycho Fox has the ability to transform, using a "Psycho Sticks" (Japanese "shinto rolls") into an hippopotamus - Hippo, a chimp - Monkey Boy, or a tiger - Leopard, to obtain new characteristics!

Gameplay in Psycho Fox is hugely based on inertia and gaining enough speed momentum to zip through levels and reach different platforms. A game mechanic developed by VIC Tokai in Kid Kool and used in many of their games.

It kinda takes some time getting used to it - and you will die plenty of times at first, but I think it's really worth playing with this. For once it's taking some direct cues from the original Super Mario Bros. and it also makes this game quite unique. Love it or hate it, expect a learning curve here! 

As a sidescroller game, it's fairly typical from that time. You can jump on the heads of your enemies but that will only knock them down, you need to bounce a few times up there to make them disappear into the ground. Just like in the Alex Kidd games the main attack his your punch, and making use of Psycho Fox's stretchy shape-shifting powers his fist will get huge and reach longer.

You start the game with 3 lives, but you also have infinite continues - at least there's that!

By breaking eggs you find around you can either get powers-up like an invincibility, find a very special bird in there (more on that below) or sometimes find a trap and unleash some more foes.

Birdfly will be your best ally in this game. He's a bird you can find sometimes. He works as an armor of sorts. When you're equipped with him you can take a hit without dying, working like the mushrooms from Mario. But you can also throw him at enemies like a boomerang. But be careful because you won't be able to punch while you're equipped with him. He won't either hit close-by enemies and you can die when he's flying around.

Finally there are some bags of gold coins you can find to be used in the bonus stages. You can place a number of bags on different paths to get special bonus items.

With the shinto rolls Psycho Fox will have the power to change into the other characters.

Each has his own different abilities. Psycho Fox is your standard default good all-around character. The hippopotamus is much slower, has the worst jumps, although he can punch through destructible walls to uncover new paths. The monkey has much higher jumps which can be useful when you're trying to learn the game, but they're not as long so it can pause some problems getting across longer traps. Finally the tiger is the fastest, so he's really useful. 

I can really only recommend always playing with Psycho Fox and changing to the tiger to get across difficult segments.

There's 7 worlds, each with 3 areas. You will face 7 bosses, you do get to face again some familiar previous bosses later in the ga,e-

The character designer for this game was VIC Tokai regular "Dark Side Toshi" and the music was composed by Hiroto Kanno. The music's kinda nice actually.

Also like the original Super Mario Bros game, there's several warp zones through the game. It's was pretty fun finding those totally by accident, often little "rifts" in the sky. They will take you directly to the later final levels 

Unlike on the NES, most platformers on the Master System were actually pretty easy games for 8-bit titles. Compared to most of those games, Psycho Fox was really one of the rare exceptions. It was challenging. With pretty big levels. Secrets to find. 

The controls takes some time getting used to. It's hard to get your character to the right speed and then to slow down afterwards as well. It's the time of game that asks you to go slowly to avoid enemies and traps in the larger bottom segments and then forces you to run around little platforms in the sky. 

The game has really good graphics, well animated sprites. A ton of levels. A classic Sega game. One of the best titles in the genre on the Master System!

Overall, Psycho Fox is easily one of the better platformer games on the Master System. 

A classic platformer, a really nice and gorgeous 8-bit title! It's never boring, there's always fun stages and secret stuff to discover. A real classic, Highly Recommended!

Fun fact, in Brazil Psycho Fox was "adapted" by Tectoy and released under the name "Sapo Xulé: Os Invasores do Brejo", with the characters and the content replaced by characters from the Brazilian comic Sapo Xulé!

The game had a huge potential in my eyes. It's kinda sad this was released late on the Master System, with the Mega Drive soon taking the spotlight from that system. So we never got a proper follow-up. But what we received instead was a spiritual sequel of sorts from the same studio, developer VIC Tokai, but with no Psycho Fox on sight. This "sequel" follows exact same gameplay and stages, with a completely different setting and characters. In japan the game was released as Magical Hat Flying Turbo Adventure, a tie-in adaptation with Studio Pierrot's Magical Hat anime series. But outside Japan we got the exact same game without that IP, as the game we know under the title DecapAttack!
I give it:
3 / 3 Bruces!

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