Vist Genki!

Format: Mega Drive
From: Sega
Year of Release: 1990
Onscreen Language: Japanese

Magical Hat

Majikaru Hatto No Buttobi Taabou Daibouken!
(Magical Hat's Big Flying Turbo Adventure!)
"DecapAttack" UK/Europe/USA Title

Based on the short lived Studio Pierrot TV show. The game follows the show's plot outline; you play Magical Hat, a young boy destined to reunite the island of Uson and defeat the Demon King. The action is spread across seven stages each based on a different section of the scattered land, and each containing three stages. The first two simply require Magical Hat to reach the goal whereas the he will have to find and collect the area's key hidden item and defeat a boss enemy to pass the final one.

On it's release Magical Hat really represented the pinnacle of console platform games. Each level is perfectly designed with multiple paths, hidden passages and items and unexpected obstacles. The character animation and design is great and blends perfectly not only with the backgrounds but also with the overall style of the game. The attention to detail goes beyond what many had come to expect from a game of this type. For instance the main character executes a comedy 'air run' if you accidentally dash off of a cliff, turning just too late or he can bounce across the surface of water seamlessly from a run like a stone skimming across a lake.

Another of Hat's key abilities is gliding. When falling repeatedly hitting the jump button causes him to flap his baggy pants- reducing his speed of descent. He also has a number of skills that can be activated by using hidden items. Use of a red pill briefly transforms him into an invulnerable robotic ape- great for boss battles- or a blue pill activates his hidden turban gun!

In between the stages come two bonus stages both using the coins collected during the stage for betting. The first is a simple 'Fruit Machine' where lining up three-of-a-kind rewards you with that item. The second is far more fun and involves choosing between five paths (the cost is one coin per path) and watching the characters walk to the top, crossing interlinking bridges as they go. Depending on the path chosen you might find a useful item or up to five bonus lives at it's end or a pit which gains you nothing.

Turbo Adventure's fast and finely tuned platforming action makes it great fun to play but there are a few downsides. The first is the difficulty; Hat will loose a life from a single hit! You can protect your self by finding his little egg companion, who can also be hurled as a weapon, but this will only give you one additional hit- losing egg in the process. Many of the hidden pills you collect activate protective properties but only for a very brief time.

The second negative point is that is a bit too long. As fun as the game is it begins to drag by the last few levels and the constant repetition caused by instant death really starts to wear away at the fun. Bonus levels yield a possibility for a ridiculous number of extra lives so progression isn't necessarily a problem it's actually down to if you can really be bothered to persevere.

Having said that overall Magical Hat is a great fun game and one of the best examples of the platform genre. The jaunty music and cartoon action work well with the slick, well detailed graphics to create a near perfect, pre-sonic era, Mega Drive title.

Note:- Magical Hat's Big Flying Turbo Adventure was actually released in the West. Rather than stick with the obscure anime license Sega instead kept the core game but completely reworked the graphics, level design and music and in doing so created something that was almost a totally different but equally as enjoyable game:- Decap Attack.

The basic gameplay is the same but instead of Magical Hat the player now controls Chuck D. Head a bandaged up mummy around a cartoony underworld of odd creatures and slime. Also, to make the game a little easier, Chuck can take a total of three hits before disintegrating rather than the slightly harsh one hit of the original. The character of Chuck D. Head was even deemed popular enough to star in his own stories in the UK Sonic The Hedgehog comic.

Also many of Magical Hat's gameplay features: the Air Run, the Bonus 'path' game, throwable companions had been seen several years earlier in two other titles: the Sega Master System game 'Psycho Fox' and 'Kid Kool' for the Nintendo NES. The reason for this is simple; while Psycho Fox and Magical Hat appear to have been made by Sega they were in fact only produced by them and made by another company Vic Tokai who used the same programming team on all three games. The distinctive cartoon gameplay make all three worth a look but beware the recurring one-hit-kill system!

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