I try to avoid being overwhelmingly negative when I write about games. My intention is never to sit down and say “oh boy, can’t wait to tear this garbage a new asshole!” I like to be optimistic about a game and what it does. Besides, being negative towards a bad game is overdone at this point. That being said, Mamono Hunter Yohko fucking sucks.
Momono Hunter Yohko (hereby abbreviated as MHY) is one of those Valis-likes, of which there were not nearly enough. You know, a game where a young woman with a sword or some other short range weapon fights monsters and the games have a decent art style and sweet music and all play decently at best and play like Momono Hunter Yohko at worst. This is a game that I have tried to get into for many years. One of those games where you play it, and are in disbelief at its lack of quality. No, this game can’t actually be terrible; it looks too cool to be a bad game. I must be playing it wrong! But you keep playing it, and replaying it, and eventually you have to admit that it sucks.
It’s a shame. You look at the game, and it has that cool late-night look with the dark color palette, with the music in the first level being this incredibly sleazy track. It’s this good looking game about a girl with a sword killing stuff, those games are always good! How can the developers fuck this up? Well, you can start with bad controls and bafflingly weird physics. Yohko has to do a lot of jumping, from platform to precarious platform. Yohko phases through platforms half the time, either falling to her death, or undoing any vertical progress you had just painstakingly made. The first level ends with you having to jump up a long winding plant with strong winds blowing you in different directions. These directions change randomly, and usually right as soon as you press the jump button, causing you to fall slowly all the way back to the bottom. It gets even more fun with ice, slopes, and any jump with a horde of enemies in the way. MHY uses the weird concept of momentum, eschewing traditional ideas like “running downhill makes you accelerate faster, causing you to jump higher” and replacing them with “running downhill does not change your movement speed, but your jump height is drastically reduced.” This makes a very specific put in stage 4 nearly impossible; one of those literal pixel-perfect jumps that requires you to forget an entire lifetime of 8 and 16-bit platforming.
All the while, each level has an incredibly strict time limit; every level I’ve finished with less than a minute or even less than thirty seconds left on the clock. You don’t have time to fuck around, which makes all this terrible jumping even more intolerable.
Check the remaining times when I reach these boss battles:
On top of bad platforming, you are constantly barraged by hard to hit enemies that love to shoot at you from off-screen, while flying at you (while also off-screen) faster than your character can react. Thankfully, you aren’t limited to short-range sword swings. By holding the attack button, you can bring up a shield that blocks most types of projectiles and can be launched at any angle that isn’t directly up or down. Downside to the shield is that it does almost no damage, and enemies take a lot of hits before going down. It also acts as a boomerang, so if you miss, you have to wait for it to return to you before you can shoot it again, or even let the shield dissipate, which leaves you open. This wouldn’t be such a bad thing, and would even be a nice bit of strategy, if not for the fact that, again, you spend a lot of time being assaulted by stuff you can’t even see until it’s too late. Hell, even the last boss spends most of her time flying out of screen range, firing bullets while a statue you can’t even see due to weird way the screen scrolls also fires a giant, fast moving bullet. If that wasn’t bad enough, Yohko takes damage like an Amiga character; no invincibility frames, meaning that you go from full health to death in the blink of an eye. MHY is not a good game.
I wanted to like this game, I really did. Like I said when I opened this article, I don’t play a game expecting to hate it, no matter its reputation. I want to like every game I play, I wish to be pleasantly surprised by games that don’t look good, and be floored by games that do. This was a game that looked good. But fuck me, man, I am so let down by Mamono Hunter Yohko. What should have been a cool Valis-like is instead this barely playable mess that frustrated the hell out of me. The Mega Drive is not exactly lacking for a quality action game, it’s just too damn bad this can’t be included among them.