Kikimi the Game Eating She-Monster’s blog is on the short list of blogs we watch for interesting stuff, and she’s found a winner this time! Korokoro Puzzle: Happy Panechu! is a Japan-only GBA puzzle game that uses a similar kind of tilt sensor as found in Kirby Tilt N Tumble.
It’s a game that involves moving colored blog creatures around to connect them in groups of four or more to clear them out, which sounds pretty typical at first. But doing this also creates bombs that you can also connect, to make them into bigger bombs, and clear out larger fields of clutter as you do so, as voices proclaim things like “So happy!” and “Mega happy!”
The tilt sensor comes into play in that it allows you to determine from which side of the screen new objects enter from.
Korokoro Puzzle only got the one entry, but we have it from Kimimi’s that it hides a whole lot of gameplay within its little rectangular case.
The above abbreviation stands for “the Game Eating She Monster,” but that’s a lot to put in a post title! Kimimi has a great blog, with a great post from 2021, about the construction and requirements of a game FAQ, of the type that were (and sometimes still are) posted on GameFAQs, unless/until recent buyer Fandom.com kills it. It covers the basics you need to know if you wish to help keep this ancient and revered art alive, including this:
I’m a big fan of the work of Kimimi The Game-Eating She-Monster, who regularly finds the most interesting things to write about. Where she finds the time or energy I really don’t know. Maybe she eats batteries.
TwinBee began as kind of the sibling game of Gradius, and had a similar, if somewhat less prominent, development in the years following its birth. It started as a kind of clone of Namco’s Xevious, which, as Jeremy Parish reminds us, was a lot more popular, and influential, in Japan than it was here.
TwinBee brought a number of advancements over Xevious: fun cartoony graphics, catchy music, two-player simultaneous co-op play, and, a thing that was very new to video games at the time, a powerup system. Not just picking up icons to increase capability either, but a skill-based system that involved juggling Bells with your shots until they changed color. It was a kind of counterpart to Gradius‘ more strategic system, but both games let players pick which abilities they wanted without just letting them jump right to full power.
TwinBee got three sequels on Famicom, including the game’s only official release in the US (other than a couple of Wii Virtual Console releases much later), renamed to Stinger. And all was well, for a little while.
Then, Konami decided that what TwinBee needed was a reboot, long, long before such things became ubiquitous. They restaged the setting to some time after the original games, and introduced teenage cousins Light and Pastel, and the infant Mint, to be the new pilots of the TwinBee ships. They kicked off this period with the arcade game Detana! TwinBee, which ramped all of the things that were special about the original arcade game way, way up.
TwinBee is one of those hidden bits of classic Konami lore that you have to know about to understand why people are fond of that period of the company’s history. It’s a far cry from the modern-day pachinko purveyor. Particularly WinBee pilot Pastel was a very popular character at the time, spawning a mini industry of products devoted to her.
Konami experimented with a number of alternate genres for TwinBee around this time. The best-known of these in the west is probably Rainbow Bell Adventure, a Sonic-style platformer for the Super Famicom/SNES that did see release in Europe, although in a degraded form. RBA is its own kettle of worms that we’ll probably talk about some other time. What matters to us is another of these experiments, and the subject of Kimimi’s article, TwinBee RPG, a self-insert kind of game thing, along the lines of the Game Boy Grandia game, or, on television, Captain N: The Game Master in the US, or Bug tte Honey in Japan.
These are all properties where one or more audience surrogate characters are warped through their television into Video Game World, and have Adventures. Indeed, the isekai style has long been with us. (Can flat-screens can serve as portals to gameworld, or does it have to be CRTs? You should probably check your TV’s settings for portal compatibility.)
Kimimi the Game-Eating She Monster (great handle!) has a knack for finding awesome Japanese games that Western shores missed 0ut on, and one such game is Bounty Sword, a Super Famicom JRPG with real-time combat, muted colors, and let’s not forget a fairy playing the role of player cursor. It’s worth your time to read, and maybe to contribute to her Ko-Fi!
Since I wrote that, she’s posted a review of another extremely interesting Squaresoft game, for the WonderSwan, Wild Card!