Seething Cauldron of Pop Culture Talk

Irascible Analysis of Popular Culture

SNES vs. Genesis: Violinist of Hameln

Enix, a company almost synonymous with RPGs, had their own platformer for the SNES at the height of the craze during the 16-bit years. Released September 1995 in Japan, The Violinist of Hameln, based on a manga of the same name by Michiaki Watanabe, followed the exploits of Hamel, a skilled violinist, in his quest to take down a group of demons that have been terrorizing a small village. Before he leaves, he takes a young girl named Flute with him.

Now, let’s get one thing out of the way right now: Violinist of Hameln is probably one of the most sexist platformers ever made. That’s no small accomplishment when most of them feature a heroic male character saving a helpless female character who has been kidnapped by the bad guys. But Hameln beat all those with ease. That’s based on the gameplay aspect that also makes Hameln unique among platformers. Flute, the village girl who helps Hamel, basically gets used and abused in every single level. This is through a variety of ways. For one thing, Hamel can pick her up and throw her like a projectile at enemies or headlong into breakable obstacles. There are also a variety of costumes that Hamel can find to make Flute use to get past various obstacles [one costume is an ostrich which can walk across spikes and another is a frog that leap high up in the air]. Hamel can also stand on Flute’s shoulders to reach higher locations than he might otherwise. Flute has a health bar but she can’t actually be killed, how much health she has left at the end of level determines bonus points. So…yeah. It’s really wrong, but also kind of funny. I guess that makes me bad person.

With that out of the way, Violinist of Hameln is a pretty basic platformer. There are various platforms, ladders, enemies, and spikes to be overcome along with other environmental traps to avoid. Hameln’s main weapon is a violin that can shoot out deadly musical notes, which actually work surprisingly well in fighting enemies. If not for the addition of Flute as a gameplay element, it really wouldn’t be all that special. So, I suppose that means that extreme sexism is this game’s claim to fame. That’s so horrible to say. Well, anyway, just don’t take it all that seriously and it shouldn’t be too hard to enjoy.

The game is a bit on the hard side, I got killed once just on the first level. It’s not among the hardest platformers out there, since you’ve got a health bar and several extra lives, but I’d put it above some of the other platformers on the SNES.

The music is the sort of upbeat tunes that you can expect to find in most mid-range platformers. It’s nothing really all that special, but it serves the game well enough. The graphics are nice and colorful, but, again, nothing that you couldn’t find in a number of other mid-range platformers. Both of these elements get the job done without really being all that memorable.

Overall, it’s a fun little game. The addition of Flute and her many costumes is interesting and adds some variety to the gameplay, but it’s still not an all time classic like the three other platformers discussed so far. Try it out, have a little fun, and then move on.

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April 29, 2010 - Posted by | Console Wars, Games | , , , ,

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