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PSOne Import Review – Cho Aniki

October 11, 2010Written by Corey Schwanz

As one of the inaugural titles to the PS one Imports, Cho Aniki couldn’t have been a more ‘Japanese’ choice to bring over to the West. Monkey Paw Games has faithfully brought the game to our English-speaking shores, but does such a niche game get lost in translation?

To us, Cho Aniki is actually the somewhat Westernized name of Chō Aniki: Kyūkyoku Muteki Ginga Saikyō Otoko, one game in an established Japanese franchise. While there is no literal one-to-one translation of the title, according to Monkey Paw it can be summed up as “Super Big Bro: The Strongest, Most Ultimate Invincible Man in the Milky Way.” Really. Saddle up boys and girls, this is about as much over-the-top Japanese humor as you can possibly fit into 263 MBs.

Cho Aniki is a side-scrolling shoot ’em up (shmup). The gameplay is fairly straightforward, similar to something like Gradius or R-Type. While the gameplay itself may be simple and straightforward, don’t expect it to be easy. It’s nowhere near anything like the bullet-hell genre, but it’s still quite difficult. This game will challenge not only your trigger finger (which will actually be your thumb), but your reflexes. You’ll wish that you were clairvoyant, or else you better be prepared to throw your controller quite a bit. While there are unlimited continues, your upgrades reset each time you lose your 3, 5, or 7 lives, so the difficulty varies depending on your level on masochism.

But what makes Cho Aniki such a unique title is definitely how controversial it is. Filled to the brim with erotic bodybuilders, lasers shot from the tops of heads, and spinning corpses. You can power up your lasers by shooting larger enemies and collecting gray blobs of…protein. Yeah. Protein. And that’s only the beginning. I only made it to the fifth level or so before giving up, and I’m already unbelievably confused. It’s obvious to see why this game never made is across the Pacific. But in a way, isn’t that what the charm of Cho Aniki is about? I can’t imagine why Monkey Paw had bothered to choose THIS, of all games, to import to the PlayStation Store without a certain demographic in mind. Created a parody of the over-saturation of the shmup genre, everything in this game is specifically meant to be as weird as possible. Not just for weirdness’ sake, but purely out of irony. It’s like going to see a really popular independent art film by yourself. You either “get” the film and can talk about it with all of the other patrons, or you don’t, and you merely get made fun of. Which crowd are you in?

As part of the PSOne Imports, the game is 100% Japanese. Even the title of the game on the XMB is all in Japanese characters. You should start recognizing the pictures if you get more than one Import title. But still, the games themselves are straight Japanese. There will be the occasional English word or number, but those are few and far between. Even the controls and the options are completely in Japanese. All of the text, dialogue, menus, and scores in most of these Import games will be in Japanese. On the PlayStation Store in the descriptions for these games, you are told to go to Monkey Paw’s website and check the page for these games. There, you can at least find out how to function, even though you’ll miss any attempt at story.

Cho Aniki is a fairly competent shmup disguised by an over pretentious façade. If you can get past the weird outer layers (and trust me, they get pretty weird), you’ll just get frustrated at just how freaking hard the game is. But, like Demon’s Souls, the overwhelming difficulty is what attracts people. Are you willing to take a chance on this unique title?

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

– Difficulty is frustrating and cruel.

+ Incredibly polarizing to the audience.

+ It really is the weirdest thing you will ever see.

6 out of 10