Wednesday 20 February 2013

Hebereke's Popoitto

This was localised. Honest.

Hebereke's Popoitto, also known as Popoitto Hebereke. Not something to challenge your voice box with but apparently something UK citizens should buy, accroding to Sunsoft circa 1995.

This is the third Hebereke game to grace the shores of Europeland, but this time life is slightly more sensible - there's a late 1995 release for Sega Saturn and PlayStation as well as this predictable Super Nintendo version. Surely someone had to buy it - people actually owned Sony hardware here!

Well no, because Hebereke's Popoitto can be described in one sentence - it's a clone of Dr. Mario in which the "viruses" move. You can ammend this description by mentioning the multi-coloured blocks which act like the blank squares in Scrabble, but ultimately, this is all that Hebereke's Popoitto offers - it's Dr. Mario in different clothes, nothing more, nothing less.

That's not to say this isn't a relatively solid version of Dr. Mario - there are both one and two player modes and it's a pleasant enough experience on the eyes and ears, but with the worldwide existence of the equally feature-filled Tetris & Dr. Mario (released two months prior to this game in Europe), Hebereke's Popoitto is difficult to recommend unless you're a huge fan of penguins. And even then, more than three quarters of the experience is penguin-free!

Cloning Dr. Mario isn't the worst crime in the world but as with many things from Nintendo HQ, the concept is perhaps a bit too basic and shallow to be suited for the big screen. Dr. Mario had a purpose in 1990 when it was released for the Game Boy - on more powerful consoles you expect a great deal more more, yet Hebereke's Popoitto, just like Nintendo's attempt(s) has other ideas. It's not alone in its frugal ways, but it does make you wonder - why didn't they push Hebereke's Popoon onto other platforms instead? Or better yet, the original (and better) Hebereke, which is the whole reason this franchise exists in the first place.

Hebereke's Popoitto isn't entirely redundant - the localised PlayStation and Saturn versions do come with watered down versions of Popoon, but there's certainly no reason for this SNES copy to exist. Even on the 32-bit machines you can hardly class the concept as groundbreaking, and predictably the short print runs have forced the PAL releases up in price. Not only is it redundant, it's expensive redundancy!

Still, it's educational that it exists, and although I'm not sure we really needed it, it's good to see something like this escape Japan. Too bad there wouldn't be any others, but I'm getting tired of boozed-up penguins anyway - they're a strain on our NHS!

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