Twinkle Tale (Was) Review | Mean Machines Sega - Everygamegoing

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Twinkle Tale
By Wonder Amusement Studio
Sega Mega Drive (JP Version)

 
Published in Mean Machines Sega #2

Twinkle Tale

Twinkle Tale. What a lovely name. It inspires visions of fluffy cuddly Care Bears on a mission to help old people and make everyone sick with their candy floss cuteness. True enough, the star of Twinkle Tale is a sweet little girl called Twinkle. However, this is where the jolliness stops. See, Twinkle is in fact a child prodigy with an extensive mastery of the arcane arts. Not surprisingly, this gets her into all sorts of magic-related scrapes, such as her latest escapade which involves four magic gems.

Thousands of years ago, there were three primal forces embodied in their rawest form as globes of magic energy. One day, the three forces clashed and from the resulting explosion a fourth force, that of pure magic, was formed. The blast also had one other effect, which was to transform all four energies into jewels, and from that day each one was guarded by a powerful mage. As is often the case in these situations, the four mages have been kidnapped and the four ultra-powered magic items have fallen into the wrong hands. It is now up to Twinkle to travel the lengths of the Mystic Kingdom and free the gems before they are used to wreak destruction throughout the planet.

Origin

An original title from new software house on the block, Wonder Amusement Studio.

How To Play

Twinkle runs around the four-way scrolling environment shooting everything that moves.

What A Bomber

Although Twinkle's main use of magic lies in her primary attacks, her offensive (and magical) capabilities don't stop there. Twinkle is also able to make use of talismans found concealed in chests and statues found along her way. These artefacts, when properly used unleash a magic force of great power and destruction (They act as smart bombs in other words). There are two different smarties for your delectation.

The first one, Fire Blast, launches three huge shafts of flame up the screen destroying whatever it hits. The second one, Super Bombs, launch three whirling globes of doom in front of Twinkle, which then swirl around the screen killing things. However, if this second weapon is fired in the wrong direction, it may just whizz off screen never to be seen again.

Only three talismans can be held at once, so if you've got your hands full and you stumble across another one don't be afraid to use up a bomb so's it's not wasted.

Monster Skank

Although the Mystic Kingdom may look nice from afar, it is actually populated with some of the vilest creatures from mythology ever. The standard hordes of goblin arches and knife-throwing skeletons aren't exactly pushovers, but they're fluffy kittens compared to some of the beasts found lurking the midde and at the end of levels. The first gargantuan terror is the Chimera found at the end of level one, with following levels populated by Demon Trees, hydras and a pretty gruesome giant spider, who dies in true arachnid fashion when Twinkle blows its legs off!

Not A Lot

As you might expect from such a wizardly sort, Twinkle is a bit of a dab hand at the old magic spells. She has three main offensive spells, each of which start out quite weak. However, by collecting the appropriate icon, she can power-up each one twice more. However, each icon only powers up one weapon by one level, so for a full power arsenal six icons are needed. To make things a bit trickier, every time Twinkle takes a hit, the weapon in current use loses a level, as well as Twinkle losing a notch off her energy bar. The three spells at her command are as such:

  1. Spread
    Starts life as a pretty measly forward-firing twin shot. Upgraded to first three-way and then five-way spread patterns with a couple of power-ups. Not very powerful, but fires quickly and provides blanket shot coverage.
  2. Javelin
    Fires two energy spears straight forward. Powers up to fire three and finally four spears at once. Very powerful indeed, but has the drawback of only firing in a straight line in front of Twinkle and having a fairly slow fire rate.
  3. Seeker
    Fires a single ball of energy which homes in on the nearest target. Power ups allow two or even three blasts to be fired at once. Fire rate is OK but it's not exactly a powerful weapon. However, it is probably the most useful of the lot, allowing Twinkle to dodge without having to worry too much about aiming.

Rad

Twinkle Tale is certainly a bizarre name for such a macabre shoot-'em-up, but then again, at least it avoids all the blasting cliches which we're all so tired of. The graphics are superb, with large, detailed sprites and excellent use of colour throughout.

Once you get into the game (i.e. about halfway through the first level), the playfield starts scrolling in all directions and the danger comes not only from enemies but from rock slides, precarious winding bridges and traps as much as from the plentiful supply of evil monsters.

It's this constant struggle to stay alive, which isn't easy with only one life and a three-hit energy bar, which helps make Twinkle Tale such a great cart. Even on the easiest difficulty setting, things are pretty tough; on the hardest it's a challenge to match any other on the Megadrive.

OK, the Megadrive isn't exactly short on shoot-'em-ups, but with its sprawling play area and challenging gameplay Twinkle Tale is certainly one which you should try out, providing you're not too embarrassed to ask for it in the shop.

Jaz

With a name like Twinkle Tale, you immediately think this is going to be a real wet simpering pansy of a game. But nothing could be further from the truth. No siree bob!

Twinkle Tale is a challenging blaster which also features great graphics, good tunes, thumping sound effects and plenty of fast and furious action. Although there aren't many different weapons and many levels of power-ups, there are enough enemies and other hazards to keep you more than busy, and the game is certainly big.

Don't let the rather inane plot and the fact that the game doesn't feature laser-equipped space ships put you off. Twinkle Tale is one of the best shoot-'em-ups I've played on the Megadrive this year.

Verdict

Presentation 90%
P. Gorgeous intros and lots of neat intermissions set the scene.

Graphics 91%
N. Lots of large, clear sprites, loads of colour and great backgrounds.

Sound 81%
P. Zillions of tunes and effects.
N. Although the effects are good, the tunes can get a bit dull.

Playability 90%
P. Fast and responsive with loads going on at all times.

Lastability 89%
P. Plenty tough, with three difficulty levels to challenge blasting fans.

Overall 88%
A tough and enjoyable game which, although it sounds a bit wet, is one of the best blasters we've played this year.