Preview: Short Peace: Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day
Short Peace is a compilation of four short animated features ( helmed by legendary Akira creator Katsuhiro Otomo ) and an accompanying game; Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day. All of the components of Short Peace aim to in some loose way reflect Japan from the past right the way into the future, so that’s what it’s all about.
Really, Ranko is all I can preview seeing as I’m not a film reviewer and this is a gaming site. Still, there’s enough about this mini rail runner to catch the eye. The Grasshopper Manufacture game comes to us from producer Suda 51 (No More Heroes, Killer 7, Killer is Dead) with art direction by Yosuke Kozaki (Fire Emblem:Awakening as well as Liberation Maiden and the No more Heroes series with Suda).
Starting deep in the subterranean car parks of contemporary Tokyo, Ranko is guided left to right at lightning pace along runways and platforms slashing enemies and crashing through floors and walls. Swishing her violin blade at these bright abstract enemies explodes them into cascading shards of street art inspired glyphs. Hitting the right one at the right time will send them into each other and chaining kills like this is satisfying enough before acknowledging the affirming combo counter.
It isn’t all face first firing. An approaching green ghoulish wall of clawing hands is on your tail throughout and occasionally during the more flow stopping puzzle elements a left shoulder button press will be needed to extinguish them with a blast in the nick of time. Shooting costs a chunk of the combo meter you’ve been busily filling with those earlier dispatched angular enemies, so you only get a few shot at this. The pressure is on to match efficiency with skill in these moments, and then it’s back to hauling your backside towards the goal.
The action does a good job of making you feel like an elite player in much the same way Strider does, except there’s no going back, only forward. This makes the action well suited for fine tuning speed runs and score board challenging.
As expected in what is fundamentally an animation showcase, Ranko starts with a lengthy CG introduction to our school girl heroine and her suitably cosplayish classroom chums. More of these intermissions appear amidst stages, to give an impression of playing along with an anime. That said, the 2.5D side scroller never makes you forget that these areas are a game, thankfully.
Ranko’s stylishly up-to-the-second costumed characters jump right out of the game and there are a series of early bosses and plot twists to add extra depth to a game that otherwise wouldn’t be too out of place being greasily thumb swiped on an iOS or Android device.
Ranko’s attractiveness is in its simple gameplay, cool character illustration and innovative stage design. I may be writing this analogy too close to lunch but the complete recipe makes it a console competent meal, otherwise you’d be left with a more mobile gaming attuned scattering of infinite runner ingredients.
In an instance that shows what Ranko’s Longest Day can really do; two bosses sprint along the inside of a ‘wall of death’ blasting shotguns at our heroine as she leaps from precariously placed platforms while a screen eating giant drill devours the scenery from below. Later there’s a bike chase and a battle with a giant Pomeranian, I unfortunately didn’t get to experience either. This is the sort of grand ridiculousness you’d expect and want from Suda 51 and in this regard the game doesn’t disappoint.
Seeing as only the first 7 levels were available to play in this preview it’s hard to say how long the game actually is or how much value for money is here. If you’re a die hard anime fan then the four short animations included will likely be the dealbreaker, they’re certainly the main event in the package and pre-orders at Game are throwing in a 288 page art book as a pre order bonus.
As for paying 37 odd quid on a (albeit painfully stylish) platform runner? We’ll have to see how far Ranko can run, or her violin could be playing for your wallet.