Son Son II

Author: Paul Glancey
Publisher: Capcom
Machine: PC Engine (JP Version)

Published in Computer & Video Games #92

Son Son II

Hands up, all those who remember Monkey, the Oriental show at tea time? It was the ongoing saga of a Buddhist priest whose bodyguards on his pilgrimage to India were a pig spirit, a fish spirit and a monkey god with a magic quarterstaff and a tame cloud.

Son Son II seems to be based on the same legend as the TV series, and just as in every episode, the pilgrims have been kidnapped by a malevolent mystery spirit. However, the Monkey god, Son Son has somehow managed to evade capture, so it's up to him and his pointy stick to save his chums from becoming goblin chow.

Basically, Son Son II is a platform game in which our ape-like hero has to cross scrolling terrain, vault over obstacles, climb vines and, of course, use whatever weapons that fall to hand to do over any nasty beasts which get in his way.

Son Son II

Horned hobgoblins, monster plants and tiny blobs beset the hapless primate, but a prod of the fire button delivers a poke in the ribs with his staff. Exploded monsters leave behind fruit and other goodies which can either bestow energy, magic power or cash, in the form off Zennies.

The cash comes in handy at wayside shops, where little old ladies flog extra lives and fancy extra weapons, such as magic bombs and upgraded quarterstaffs. The magic weapons, logically enough, draw on your magic strength, so saving them for the whopper baddies is strongly advised. Huge demons haunt the end of each level once you've found a key and way out.

I suppose Son Son II is a sort of kiddie Rastan. The gameplay is fairly challenging, but is rather lacking in variety. It's not much beyond "walk along - jab a monster - pick up the fruit - walk along..." with a bit of leaping about every now and again, so it's not without its tedium.

It does score more heavily on graphics and sound, though. There are a host of cutesy sprites drawn in that distinctive Japanese "wide-eyed" cartoon style, and monsters are particularly attractive, especially the tiger god at the end of the first stage. Each level has its own jolly soundtrack, though none of them are going to wow the ears off you, like, say, the Dungeon Explorer or Legendary Axe music does.

Platform fanatics will doubtless above this, but it won't convert any others to the genre.

Paul Glancey

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