Like a puppy with rabies or a children's doll possessed by the spirit of a recently-executed serial killer, cuteness does not necessarily equate to sweetness. Exhibit A: Nichibutsu's 1987 Pac-Man knockoff Kid no Hore Hore Daisakusen (AKA Booby Kids). It may look like a whimsical jaunt through a candy-coloured world of dreams, but it isn't. Oh no - it is, in fact, the story of one truly depraved young man and the general population's efforts to stop his terrifying rampage.
I guess that's supposed to be Kid in the blue jumpsuit. He's sporting quite the moustache for someone who calls themselves "Kid". No doubt it's part of some cunning disguise.
There's no story, no explanatory flashback that might give us an insight into the Kid's warped psyche. Instead, you appear in the middle of the map, surround by an effect that make it look as though you've just beamed down from the Enterprise.
That's you in the blue suit. As you can see, you're in some kid of maze. Your mission? Collect all the treasure chests scattered around the stage. This unlocks the door that lets you progress to the next stage, where you repeat the process. So, it's sort of a cross between Pac-Man and Lode Runner. There's no high moral purpose here, no princess to rescue or alien horde to send packing. Kid is simply greedy, and he has no qualms about stealing all this treasure. And I mean stealing: this treasure must belong to someone; it didn't put itself in a treasure chest, now did it? It's not like Kid is out exploring lost civilizations in South America, he's clearly in a busy modern city. Just because someone left their treasure in the street doesn't mean it's yours for the taking, Kid.
As you can see, the police are onto Kid's game and are attempting to track him down. This seems reasonable: after all, Kid is a thieving little bastard. You can also see that the Mafia are after Kid as well, probably because he was stupid enough to steal from the Mob. You might think this could pose a problem for Kid, one lone moustachioed child against the full force of the police and the Mafia, but you'd be underestimating Kid. He will stop at nothing, literally nothing to get away with his stolen treasures.
You see, an English translation of Kid no Hore Hore Daisakusen would be something like Dig-Dig Kid's Great Operation. So, he has the power to dig, and this is where the game takes a dark turn. Pressing the button makes Kid dig a hole, and as you can see in the picture above enemies can then fall into the hole. Well done, Kid; you've trapped the enemy and now he can no longer interfere with our kleptomania. Still, that hole doesn't look very deep - you can see the enemy's head, he'll probably be able to climb out given enough...
Kid, no! What are you doing?! As you can see, once Kid has trapped his enemies in a hole he can then calmly fill it in and bury them alive. They struggle to crawl free, but each movement only forces more soil into their mouths and noses, slowly suffocating them to death. Just in case you were in any doubt about the buried men's fates, a gravestone appears on the spot where you killed them. I told you Kid would make sure nobody got in his way.
He's still not finished, though. Digging is hard work, and not nearly efficient enough as a method of mass murder, but luckily for Kid he can find a flamethrower lying around.
One blast, and they are instantly vaporised. Except for their skulls, which must be made of metal or something. I'm surprised Kid doesn't try and steal them, too.
You can also find a freeze-ray, which lets you turn your pursuers into ice and then shatter them like Robert Patrick at the end of Terminator 2. Except he was an evil robot and these people are living, breathing humans (except the dinosaurs. And the robots. And those weird green blob things. Okay, so about 50% of the enemies are humans).
Being an arcade game from the '80s, Kid no Hore Hore Daisakusen revolves around collecting points. What's a good way to collect points in this game? Why, I'm glad you asked!
Yes, the game rewards you based on how many people you condemned to a slow, lingering death via premature burial. And you though Manhunt was bad.
Imagine for a moment that Kid's murderous rampage serves a purpose. Perhaps to Kid, these people are not mere victims but sacrifices, their deaths acting as a tribute to some dark, malevolent god who can grant our "hero" magnificent powers. But what power could be worth this level of carnage? I dunno. Time travel?
Because apparently Kid can travel through time. Each stage takes place in one of several different time periods. There's the modern-day setting pictured above, and:
...Prehistoric times, where you'll face dinosaurs and cavemen. Our primitive ancestors will remember Kid long after he is gone, handing down epic tales of this dark traveler who came to their land riding a storm of destruction and death. Oh, and shovels. He's not going to dig with his bare hands, he's not some kind of barbarian...
...Ancient Japan, where not even the fabled Shadow Warriors of the top ninja clans can halt Kid's demonic rampage....
...World War II. Kid's activities become so serious that the army has to be drafted in to take care of him, draining valuable resources from the front lines and allowing the Nazis to gain a foothold in northern Belgium...
...And the future. Humanity has long-since realised that to face Kid with mere human warriors is foolish, so they have created an army of robots in a last-gasp attempt to destroy the Menace of Time.
Is there an end to Kid no Hore Hore Daisakusen? I'm not sure. I played it for a while and didn't encounter anything that could be considered an ending. Still, it's an very average maze-chase videogame that's nearly as old as I am, so I'll be buggered if I'm going to make anymore of a time investment than I already did. It's not a bad little game, really: if it was an app for the iPhone, you could happily while away a train journey guiding Kid towards him treasure. Nothing really marks Kid no Hore out as being bad, with the possible exception of a difficulty curve so random that if you plotted it out it'd look like a rollercoaster designed by Salvador Dali. Oh, and the fact the shovel power-up actually works to your disadvantage most of the time, because it creates so many holes you always seem to end up falling into one yourself.
Otherwise, the graphics are nice and cheerful, the music is pretty decent, and in particular the ancient Japan theme is very catchy. The weirdest thing about Kid no Hore was just how much I enjoyed outsmarting the enemies. Every time I managed to break free of a group of them, I could hear my brain whispering yeeeah, take that, suckers! Is this the kind of level my brain should be operating at? Matching wits with the AI of an arcade game from 1987? I rather fear that it's the start of some kind of Flowers for Algernon situation and my brain is rapidly turning to mush. Hey ho: if it gets bad enough, maybe one day I might even enjoy Silent Hill: Homecoming.
Kid no Hore Hore Daisakusen, then: a shocking tale of murder and greed set in the confines of a standard maze-chase game from the late '80s. Honestly? I'd stick to Pac-Man. At least that one's just about drugs.
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