Simple and Honest Fun Vol. 1

Nowadays something can say one thing and mean another, but back in the day that wasn’t always the case. Whenever you seen the Simple Series tag on a game you knew exactly what that entailed – simple & honest budget friendly gaming. These days Simple Series is a long forgotten budget range, primarily due to it no longer seeming to get any new games released via D3, but back at its peak during the 6th generation there was over a hundred titles just on the PS2 alone. Given I’m quite fond of the series I have amassed quite a few games across multiples platforms (a previous feature had a couple of the Vita releases) so will be looking to share some of the games with you on this new line of features – so keep an eye out for any that pique your interest as some did in fact also see a European release. Here’s a few on PS2 to get us started…

Simple 2000 Series Vol. 101 The Oneechanpon The Oneechan 2 Special Edition

What better place to start than with one of the releases that managed spin-off into its own franchise from these humble Simple Series beginnings. Personally always been a fan of the series which has led me to import most that never made it here, the aforementioned PS3 Onechanbara Z Kagura pretty much completed the collection. Storywise it follows on from the original with Aya & Saki teaming up to fight the zombie hordes, there’s a recent Onechanbara remake of 1 & 2 to catch up, with the gameplay sticking to the same hack & slash template from the first – with some improvements to the combo’s etc. What makes it a Special Edition version tho is the additional playable characters over the original release. Not only are there returning characters like Riho & Makoto, but others from different Simple Series franchises like Kiku & Hana from Dragon Sisters. The game has a decent roster for D3 fans, but its something you have to unlock as not everyone is available to play at the beginning.

Considering the original also made its way to Europe, the same happened with this expanded release under the name of Zombie Hunters 2 (Zombie Hunters was an expanded release of the first like this, Zombie Zone is the original Onechanbara release in Europe) but they are tough to acquire these days. It’s honestly cheaper and more readily available to import the Japanese releases for the series, around £15-£20, if that’s an option as the European releases can cost upwards of £70+. Saying that there is the remake, Oneechanbara Origin, which offers a modern cel-shaded take on the original games compiled together. Not quite as good as these expanded classic releases for me, but certainly a slicker option for modern audiences interested in some zombie slaying.

Simple 2000 Series Vol. 105 The Maid-fuku to Kikanjuu

Being budget titles means these games can usually end up with some quirky premises that wouldn’t usually make it into bigger releases, such as a gun toting maid on world tour of destruction in this one. You play as the maid Yuki on a quest to get back her beloved master from the evil clutches of Boreas and Rem, with all manner of robotic maids & androids are warped in to impeded your path as you travel the world. Whilst primarily a shooter, the game does throw in some rudimentary melee combat to mix things up at times, alongside heavy weapons for taking on the bosses. One good aspect of the game is that what you start with isn’t all you get, there are unlocks to be had as you progress in the game. It’s not just weapons up for grabs either, new accessories for your maid outfit can be unlocked which can offer some benefits as well as adding some cosmetic flair.

Obviously this isn’t going to be the slickest shooter given its budget nature, tho it is competent enough and has some charm, so most will likely overlook it when filling out their Simple Series collection. To be honest I find it good enough to seek out early, especially as its one that has a building cult following from Youtube, but it can be a tough one to find. Ebay is usually good for importing these titles but this one is quite obscure, only ever seen one or two in Japan for around £25. Best jump on it when you can if interested.

Simple 2000 series Vol. 113 The Tairyou Jigoku

Whilst quite a few of these games headed to Europe as budget titles, there was still quite a few that didn’t make the journey for whatever reason – and this quirky survival horror is but one of those. Coming across as something of a play on Alice in Wonderland, the game has you playing as a schoolgirl who happens to be chasing a rabbit through portals as they stole her phone. The first portal you jump through acts a perfect introduction to what the game is about, as you end up in a dark forest packed with swarms of big bugs that all want to eat you I guess. Weapons have to be scavenged, early game is basic bats etc. But has some amusing ones too like bug spray & golf clubs, as you try to avoid the swarms. The variety of bugs can make it tough to avoid at times, flying ones can obviously move quicker whilst the spiders etc. Can block your path easier.

If they get you then its jiggy jiggy with the analogue (a circular motion tends to work best) to shake them loose before the fear finishes you off. The end of stage boss battles can be interesting, tho if you haven’t held on to some weapons then they can be a grind. The bugs gradually make way at times for more unique offerings, some can be pretty creepy – this is a survival horror after all. Only real nuisance with the game for me was the camera that doesn’t always wanna play nice, tho somewhat expected of a budget release. Considering some of the Simple Series games that made their way westward, it does somewhat surprise me this one never did, but thinking about it not many of the survival horror ones did I guess. You’ll have to import this one to play it, there’s also a Spanish translation available surprisingly, but the main issue here is that it has something of a cult following so can cost upwards of £40. It’s a great little curiosity, but the import price may be a bit much for most outside of ardent Simple Series collectors.

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Geoffrey Wright

Rocking the world of gaming since the Atari 2600, has now settled down to bask in the warmth of moe. Moe is life for a moe connoisseur.

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