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Old 12-13-2006, 03:37 AM   #1198
Joe Redifer
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Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Denver, Colorado
Posts: 20,148
Popful Mail
Sega CD

Now available for your Sega CD!

Popful Mail is a side-scrolling action-RPG designed by Falcom, creators of stuff like Ys and whatnot. Sega reprogrammed this for the Sega/Mega CD themselves and would turn out to be Sega/Falcom's only collaboration of what was supposed to be many. Oh well, do you really care? No, of course you don't. All you care about is what's coming out for the Wii, PS3 and Xbox360. You only care about military shooter games, crime games and games where you wave a wand around like a retard having a seizure. Good for you. But for everyone else, Popful Mail is a game that plays very similar to Sega's fantastic "Monster World" games which star Wonder Boy. This time the infamous company Working Designs translated the game and released it in the US. How does it hold up? Let's find out!

The game graphics scream "play me!" I had to take all of
these pictures from my TV screen with my awesome camera.

Story: 5/10
The story certainly isn't anything special. It's about some guy who is trying to do something. You are a hot elf chick and you want some cash so you try to catch him, but instead end up saving the world. Ooops. The story has been told a million times in Japanese-programmed games. Big bad guy is coming soon. Only you can stop him/it. You get help along the way. Evil characters have evil laughs. You know the drill. There certainly isn't anything special about the story, and Working Designs tried their hardest to make sure every single conversation is tainted with their not-so-honed sense of humor. The writing kind of sucks, as do most Working Designs games. They do not take anything seriously. As a result, it feels like you are playing a comedy game written by former Saturday Night Live writers that takes itself about as seriously as a Saturday morning cartoon. It won't kill you, but you probably won't be driving to Victor Ireland's house to shake his hand for such a wonderfully funny game, either. All in all it's... average.

Want to know what the dialog in the game is like? Try listening to these samples:
Sample conversation 1 - Glugg and Tatt - 144K
Sample conversation 2 - Mail and Sven - 584K (Yeah. The dialog is THAT awesome).

The cinema intermissions are pretty cool, and Mail has a nice chest.

Graphics: 7/10
The graphics are fairly colorful, plenty detailed and scroll smoothly and all of that crap. Certainly nothing to complain about at all, but it doesn't have a ton of special effects or anything like that. The bosses are often quite large and everything animates well and moves damn fast thanks to Sega's awesome Blast Processing, which not even ten PS3s can replicate. The animated cut scenes are fairly impressive, especially considering that they are traditional sprite/background animation and not FMV. These scenes are animated very well and can last quite a while blah blah blah. The characters look older and more mature than the PC Engine (TurboGrafx-16) and SNES versions, which sport the young and cutesy giant-eyed look. I prefer the slightly more realistic look of the Sega CD characters. Only losers like the giant-eyed "Super Deformed" look better. And I hate losers. Anyway there isn't any slow down or flicker or any of that kind of nonsense and there are multiple layers of scrolling (like just about every other Genesis game). If there was an Xbox360 version of this game, this version probably wouldn't look as good as that one.

The boss fights will piss you off. They all have patterns you must figure
out. Once you do, they will piss you off significantly less.

You'll slide around like a little bitch in the town of "Icycal" and that will
piss you off unless you buy the spiked shoes, which don't last very long.
That will also piss you off.

Sound: 8/10
Well hopefully by now you've heard the two voice samples above. You get a lot of that in this game, and despite its extreme cheesiness it can indeed be quite entertaining. It has about 2 and a half hours of speech and over 1,000 different lines voiced by 39 different losers you've never heard of. Sega and Working Designs used space-age technology to get all that to fit on a single CD. This proves that BluRay is not needed for games and CD is the future! And yes, there is an option to turn the voices off, but if you do there is no indication of who's speaking when the text boxes pop up. The music is comprised mostly of chip tunes generated by the Genesis itself. There are only 3 CD audio tracks... the intro speech, the title screen, and the ending song. The music is very good much of the time and is as good as if not better than the PC Engine CD (TurboGrafx-16/TurboDuo) music which was all redbook audio (aka: CD quality). Check out the samples below for a comparison. As since this is a Working Designs game you can bet your life that there is a horribly written song at the end sung by someone who has absolutely no business whatsoever singing. I'm not sure if I should blame the singer or the person who wrote the lyrics for how much the song sucks, so I blame both. If you like crap, you'll like the ending song. The music is all in stereo. Wow.

PC Engine CD - First Level - 1.1MB
Sega CD (music done by the Genesis sound chip) - First Level - 1.6MB

Slick (the green-haired dude) is an annoying character and even
his voice will piss you off after awhile. He is a whining little fanboy
who will make you want to inflict physical harm to his face.

Gameplay: 7/10
Like I said earlier, the game plays similar to Sega's "Wonder Boy" games, and that is a good thing. It's an action RPG, which means you run around like a meth addict killing things and you also buy stuff to become better, plus there is a story and stuff like that. There isn't any leveling up in this game, but you'll be going through the same process of killing beasties over and over just to get enough money to buy new armor and weapons and other junk that you really, really need. There are a few things that piss me off, though. First of all, the player is not allowed to re-assign button placement to their preference. You are forced to use A to attack, B to jump, and C for the menu. This pisses me off because a lot of the times when I jump I accidentally open the menu. I want to jump with C and attack with B. I'd prefer the menu be accessed with START. Once you get past this shortsightedness on the part of the developers, the control is pretty much fine. Another thing that gets in the way is that your character always runs very close to the edge of the screen, with very little visible space in front of her or him. As a result, you'll often run smack dab into a monster. You have about a third of the screen in front of you and that's it. This is just stupid. I would like to smack the goddamn retard who decided it should be this way. There is no reason for it. Working Designs also decided to make the game harder and more annoying than the Japanese version, because Working Designs hates US game players. It is beatable, but you will become increasingly annoyed since you die after about 3 hits or so. But overall the game is fun to play once you get past the foolish design flaws.

You'll never believe this, but you can buy things in the shops.

Wrap Up:
This game is more of a 7.4 than a plain "7" if that helps you in any fashion. Not quite as fun as a true Wonder Boy game, but still a must-own if you have a Sega CD and worth your time to play it. My game time was 8 hours and 45 minutes. Working Designs wants you to rush through the game as fast as possible and not savor it as evidenced by the fact that they give you more voice outtakes the faster you beat it, and then urge you to beat it even faster. Screw them. I'll take my god damn time and have fun doing it my way. The outtakes aren't funny anyway. Ask your local retailer about this game today! And slap him when he says he has no clue what it is, because he won't.
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