PSP Review – Z.H.P.: Unlosing Ranger VS Darkdeath Evilman
Z.H.P.: Unlosing Ranger VS Darkdeath Evilman is one heck of a long title. This game dropped on the PlayStation Portable recently courtesy of NIS America. Does this strategy/turn-based RPG live up to its epically long name, or is it just a flop, dood?
First of all, as can probably be gathered from the title, the game never really takes itself too seriously. The full title is (get a nice deep breath before saying this out loud): Zettai Hero Project: Unlosing Ranger VS Darkdeath Evilman. It stars your character who was originally just an ordinary citizen handed the Unlosing Ranger Cape as the original Unlosing Ranger was taking his last breath after being struck by a car. Unfortunately for the new, novice Unlosing Ranger, the “Last Battle” for Earth was about to commence. This involves Darkdeath Evilman, the main antagonist, attempting to destroy the Super Baby, a holy baby that is said to be able to save humanity…Somehow. The story makes just enough sense to not be confusing, and the “Last Battle” is narrated by a television anchor because, of course, the end of the world will be televised.
Once you get past that crazy introduction, the game starts you off at the lowest level stats-wise and pits you against the last boss. Needless to say, you get your ass handed to you here. At the moment right before your character dies, you are whisked away to “Bizarro Earth,” which sits opposite the Sun from the regular Earth. This is where the meat of the game is. From here, you are stationed at bases from the World Hero Society to take part in hero training. The game mechanics are pretty straightforward – this is a turn-based RPG and has a lot of traditional elements. You can equip different items, and the dungeon is split into a grid system for movement and attacking. But instead of bringing up a menu to attack, you can simply hit the X button when ready. It makes the game feel a bit faster-paced than your typical turn-based affair.
Another unique mechanic here is that you can throw basically anything at anything else. This includes enemies right in front of and attacking you. Moving then costs a bit more energy (EN) points, which once depleted will begin to eat at your HP since your character becomes hungry. This adds a bit of strategy to the game. You can, for example, throw a box down a one-square wide hallway, then pick up and throw enemies beyond that box to block them out. Conserving energy is essential in some dungeons, as there are few pickups to help you regain that energy.
Dying is a natural part of this game, to be sure. It will happen a lot if you are not careful. In fact, if you save your game before entering a dungeon, then quit the game for whatever reason, the game actually counts that as a death. While this sounds harsh, the only major penalty there is losing your equipment. Every time your character dies or starts a new dungeon, he starts at level 1 again. But, the catch is all your base statistics such as attack and defense are progressive. This means leveling up your actual stats is much quicker than in normal RPGs, since you need less experience points to rack up the stats boosts that you obtain when leveling up.
The game is challenging very early on. But if you listen to your trainer and guardian spirit’s advice, you really should visit easier dungeons multiple times to level up even quicker. Fans of level grinding will no doubt love Unlosing Ranger, but of course that will turn off people who want to see the entertaining story progress at a faster pace. Combining weapons at the weapon smith is fairly in-depth, and modifying your body with items converted to “chips” gives your character permanent boosts in varying stats depending on the type of item surgically inserted into the hero. Yes, you read that right.
Fans of NIS games will feel right at home here. The visuals are decent to look at, and reminiscent of older strategy games to which it definitely pays homage to. Your character has a wife and daughter on Bizarro Earth, with the former of the two being a Prinny! You can give “her” money to get certain perks useful in battle. There are also plenty of nods to other games in here for the hardcore NIS fans which are fun to discover.
Z.H.P.: Unlosing Ranger VS Darkdeath Evilman is a timesink well worth your $30. If you love strategy/turn-based RPGs, deep customization for weapons and body mods, level grinding and a hilarious story, then do not hesitate to pick this game up. Even regular RPG fans may want to give this a go – it is not as menu-heavy as your typical SRPG thanks to a simpler attack mechanism. Being able to throw enemies out of your way is also a great way to change things up. NIS America did not disappoint, and turning a nobody into the Absolute Victory Unlosing Ranger is a treat that you can happily invest many hours into.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
+ Hilarious story, plenty of nods for hardcore NIS fans.
+ Unique leveling system, less menu-driven attack system.
- Leveling is still a major grind and difficulty level ramps up quickly.