|Gegege no Kitarou - Youkai Island Crisis|
|Part one: Storyline and Characters|
| Another game based on the works of the revered Shigeru Mizuki (World War II veteran and leading expert on Youkai mythology), this fun, japan-only platform adventure re-tells the original Kitarou manga series through nine largely nonlinear stages, and pits you (as Kitarou) against hundreds of classic Youkai monsters as well as some of Shigeru's own original creations.
More or less the most beloved cultural phenomenon in Japanese history, Gegege no Kitarou tells the story of a one-eyed "goblin boy" who protects the human world from the supernatural and vice-versa as a free-lance hero to any who seek his aid. He is accompanied by Medama Oyaji or "Old Man Eyeball"; literally the walking, talking eyeball of his dead father. Mixing eerie horror elements with childlike innocence and humor, the manga debuted in the late 1960's and has since spawned four animated series, several movies and videogames, its own museum, and even a street adorned with bronze statues of its entire cast.
Youkai Island Crisis is intended as the ultimate videogame tribute to the Kitarou world, and the effort that has been poured into this game is simply incredible. From the highly-detailed, highly animated minor enemies to dialogue lifted straight from the manga, a more perfect Kitarou game could not possibly exist. Like many GBA platformers, it consists of large, open stages with an efficient, compact layout in which you must locate keys and switches to progress any farther.
|BACKSTORY: The Birth of Kitarou|
|The origin of Kitarou begins, strangely, with a blood-bank. A hospital files a complaint that some blood has had a strange effect on one of their patients, and Mizuki, an employee of the bank, is sent to investigate. The patient is concious, but biologically dead. Rushing back to his office, Mizuki somehow traces the blood donation to his own address, where he finds an abandoned shrine near his house...|
|Approaching the shrine, he is invited inside and offered a meal of frog's eyes by a mysterious female demon. Terrified, he turns to leave, but finds his passage blocked by the demon's husband - a towering undead human.|
| The couple explain to their visitor that they are the last survivors of a demon tribe that was driven to near-extinction by the arrival of man. Living in poverty in their hidden shrine, the husband has recently fallen ill and the goblin woman, awaiting a child, is selling her blood in a desperate effort to raise money.
Mizuki is unsure how to help these frightening beings, and flees from the shrine...
|He returns eight months later, but finds only corpses of the poor couple. Feeling guilty, he decides to give them a decent burial himself, but the husband's body is too rotten to be moved in one piece.|
| Another three months later, the dead goblin woman gives birth to her baby...who tunnels up from its mother's grave.
Mizuki is horrified, but cannot bring himself to dispose of the unnatural child, and again flees the scene in fear and confusion.
|The father is awakened by the need to protect his son, but only a small part of him is fresh enough to be reanimated...|
|"My son's born...I must hurry"|
|Medama Oyaji, the old man Eyeball, guides his baby - Kitarou - to the nearby house of Mizuki, who reluctantly decides to take responsibility for the "abandoned" child, unaware that the father is keeping a close eye, as it were.|
|Six years pass, and Kitarou has grown rapidly, but he is an outcast due to his bizarre appearance. Every night, he goes to the cemetary to play with Medama Oyaji, whose presence is still unknown to Mizuki. Increasingly disturbed by Kitarou's inhuman behavior, Mizuki tells the child that if he does not stop going to the cemetary, he is no longer welcome in his home. For Kitarou, the choice is obvious.|
|Kitarou and his father spend the following years wandering Japan in search of adventure. Kitarou quickly gains fame as a hero to humans and monsters alike, and sets up base in a secret treehouse.|
|Meanwhile, an ancient seal is broken by an an overcurious Nezumi-otoko (Rat Man), unleashing two mysterious and sinister Youkai who are not pleased to hear about the human-friendly exploits of a certain goblin-boy. They enlist the ratman as one of their henchmen, and set to work on a nefarious scheme like the world has never known...|
|- The Characters -|
|- Kitarou -|
| Our loveable inhuman monster-boy wields an impressive range of abilities, and grows more powerful as he defeats monsters and levels up throughout the game. His primary attack is his "needle hair"; a limitless supply of spines he can fire from the top of his head. Also available from the start of the game are his magical sandals and striped vest that Kitarou can throw and control with his mind. The sandals are kicked straight forward, and can be dropped in mid-air to hit enemies below. The sandals can be called back at any time or left in place to hold down certain switches. The sweater-vest-thingy just continuously damages whatever it's in contact with, and can be controlled freely with the directional pad for up to ten seconds while Kitarou stands in place. It returns automatically if Kitarou is damaged.
By freeing hidden youkai throughout each stage, Kitarou can gain additional powers that include flaming sandals, an electrocution field, and more.
|- Medama-Oyaji -|
| The left eye of Kitarou's father never factors much into the actual game, except during a sort of mini-stage during the opening plot. As Medama, you lead the newborn Kitarou over some flat, hazard-free terrain to Mizuki's front door. Uneventful, but cute.
Medama-Oyaji often rides in Kitarou's empty left eye-socket, and enjoys tea, which he intakes by bathing in it.
|- Kitarou's Friends -|
|Episodes (levels) 1-6 each add a new Youkai to Kitarou's circle of allies, who can be summoned at any time by releasing a flock of crows (collected as item pickups). Never really necessary but pretty gosh-darn cool, each friend just flies by the screen to damage all visible enemies.|
|- Neko-ko -|
|This cat-girl is the first friend Kitarou makes. Adorable, but cranky...more or less the Youkai equivalent of Lucy from Peanuts. Not based on any one specific folk-tale, such human/animal forms are common throughout Youkai lore.|
|- Ittan-Momen -|
|This ribbonlike ghost is one of Kitarou's favorite modes of transportation. In mythology, the Ittan-momen is a strange cloth spirit of indeterminate origin that may wrap around humans and suffocate them. If befriended, it sometimes enjoys being worn as a scarf.|
|- Konaki-Jiji -|
|A mischievious old man who loves sake and grows very close to Kitarou, almost a sort of adoptive grandfather. One of the strangest of humanoid Youkai, Konaki-jiji enjoy lying in the stree, pretending to be an abandoned baby. If picked up by a traveler, they reveal their true form, turn to stone, and start to grow. In some tales, they grow until the poor soul is crushed to death. In others, they ultimately vanish to watch their stunned victim from afar.|
|- Nurikabe -|
|This weird, silent spirit takes a liking to Kitarou when freed from a block of ice. Invisible to humans, Nurikabe use their wall-like bodies to close off paths and get people lost or diverted for reasons known only to the Nurikabe themselves. They are usually harmless, but some Nurikabe are said to add entire humans to their own body mass, imprisoning them in cement.|
|- Sunakake-Baba -|
|In both folklore and the world of Kitarou, Sunakake-baba is a kind-hearted but cranky youkai woman who enjoys throwing sand into the eyes of unsuspecting passersby and vanishing in a puff of smoke. Her name means "sand-throwing old-woman" but can also be translated as "sand witch", interesting as tales of this being pre-date the Earl of Sandwich by centuries.|
|- Nezumi-Otoko -|
|The cowardly, conniving "Rat Man" begins as one of Kitarou's biggest adversaries, but operates primarily in the name of self-preservation and is quick to switch sides when Kitarou proves himself more formidable than the rodent's villainous masters. He naturally has some trouble getting along with Neko-ko.|
|- "Secret" Friends -|
|Hidden throughout the game are 9 magical stones in which friendly Youkai have been imprisoned. By finding and destroying these stones, you will be granted new attacks or valuable equipment. Names and background info coming soon!|
|- Youkai Shop -|
|I've no clue what monster this is, but it sure looks cool. It runs the item shop, which you can access from the main menu.|
|On to page two : Enemies and Bosses!!!|
|All sprites property of Konami. All characters created by Shigeru Mizuki!|