By John Szczepaniak

Holy Invasion of Privacy. Badman! What Did I Do to Deserve This? / Yuusha no Kuse ni Namaikida. - PSP (2007)


Japanese Cover

Yuusha no Kuse ni Namaikida

Yuusha no Kuse ni Namaikida

Have you ever wanted to take on the role of the bad guy in an RPG, and be the number one demonlord of darkness? Because how fair is it that an infinite number of monsters are having fun out in the fields and dungeons, doing what’s natural for them, and then because 10 or 15 villagers are unhappy about it a lone warrior (or three) goes out to kill them all? Well in Holy Invasion of Privacy. Badman! (known as Yuusha no Kuse ni Namaikida in its home country) for the PSP (and port to mobile phone), and its sequel for the PSP, you DO play as the demonlord, and you get to redress the balance by creating subterranean dungeons for monsters to flourish in and then slay all heroes who dare enter. The goofy title is pretty obviously an allusion to the old 60s Batman TV show, which sounds odd, but it makes sense consider ing that the Japanese title comes from a saying based on the Nobita character in the Doraemon manga/anime: "Nobita no kuse ni namaikida." The Japanese title has various translations, from "For a warrior, you’re pretty impudent".

Developed by Acquire (famous for the Tenchu series) and published by Sony, the two games take the loose form of a puzzler; unique in their mechanics and execution, though reminiscent of a dozen or so other titles. Whether intentional or not, playing them you see hints of Mr Driller, Dungeon Keeper, Lemmings, Sim Ants and Dig Dug. A promotional graphic even aptly featured the game displayed as a cuboid ant-farm. Comparisons should also perhaps be made to Chronicles of Dungeon Maker, a PSP dungeon-building RPG which predates Namaikida, and John Conway’s The Game of Life, which technically isn’t a game but has similarities to Badman.

Besides a few menu and camera commands, control is done solely using the d-pad and Square button (oh, and there’s an earthquake button assigned to R in the second game - but it’s seldom needed). You move the demonlord’s omnipotent pickaxe around the underground lair, pushing Square to destroy any block which has at least one of its four sides free, but doing so lowers your yellow "power level". Blocks come in three flavours: plain, earth and magic. Breaking earth and magic blocks releases the creatures which kill heroes. When your power is zero, the pickaxe can no longer be used to break blocks. And that’s pretty much it. It’s a streamlined system which allows for a surprising level of depth and control.

What makes this an exciting pair of games is the minutely detailed, naturally flowing eco-system. A number represents the overall power of this eco-system, shown in orange.

There are six categories of monster: slime, bug, lizard, wisp, fairy, and "other", into which falls dragons, demons, sirens and golems - each of these has their own behavioural and life-cycle patterns, and in the second game each also has their own confusing array of sub-species with differing traits. For this article creatures have been renamed from their Japanese originals for the sake of clarity (lower-level fairy creatures are actually called Lillith, while the Siren gateway creature is called "Lady" but is actually classified as a Lillith).

Each monster has a health meter which slowly drains, requiring that they constantly feed on the next creature down in the food chain. Most creatures can also reproduce. Lizards need to eat bugs to stay alive and lay eggs. Bugs in turn can destroy lizard eggs if left unguarded, and need to feed on slimes to cocoon and then hatch into flying bugs, from where they can produce further bugs after eating slimes. The base creature is slimes, which drain and infuse soil blocks with earth energy (represented by green moss and gold-coloured crystalline structures), as they reproduce and die. When a slime dies it infuses all adjacent blocks with energy and so the cycle continues. Wisps, fairies and dragons are classed as magic creatures, but generally follow a similar routine to earth creatures, albeit with their magically infused blocks represented by blue stars.

The lowest species in the food chain pyramid (slimes and wisps), will consume and infuse blocks as they pass them. For example, if a slime passes a mossy block it will suck some energy from it, and into the next mossy block it passes it will release some energy (eating and pooping, if you will). In this manner a slime can redistribute energy from a series of blocks, into a single block, raising its level. Higher level blocks release more powerful monsters. A good strategy for slimes is to create a short corridor with four blocks and only a single entrance somewhere in the middle. If one slime is present within, he will in a short time turn one of the wall’s blocks into a higher level. Wisps work along the same lines but are much harder to control.

During play you’ll find yourself moving around your cavernous dungeon making constant tweaks to keep the eco-system in equilibrium (pushing Triangle gives a zoomed out view). This proves fascinating to watch as it reveals ecological patterns. In a three creature area, if your top consumer like a lizard eats all the bugs below him in the food chain, the slime population will sudden explode due to their main consumer being removed. Waiting a little while will start to see the top consumers fall as they can’t reproduce. Unless there’s a tough hero approaching, you must at all costs resist the urge to release lots of bugs, since they can quickly destabilise the dungeon. The same goes for fairies. Dragons are fairly immobile, so will only damage the surrounding populace.

The difficulty is when there are lots of slimes, and you have long chains of them consuming and enriching the same block, so it in effect stays neutral - or worse, you create a Level 3 block only for a wayward slime to consume and downgrade it to a Level 2. In the main corridors this is fine, and a prudent will player will create side-tunnels to act as breeding grounds for higher-level monsters.

A word about Level 3 blocks: once a block reaches its maximum level, you can destroy all the surrounding blocks to render its four sides free. Destroying it then will create a gateway, which when clicked on will release a more powerful monster. These are great as traps, since they can lie dormant until a hero walks near (unlike other creatures which will die of hunger or wander off in completely the wrong direction). Wisps can also be consumed by the gateway, so that the creature eventually released is more powerful. The sequel introduced two new gateway monsters, and what monster is released from a gateway is based on its depth-level in your colour-coded dungeon.

Monsters can also be levelled up after each chapter in story mode. For each chapter you’re given a set number of power points, which enables the pickaxe to break blocks - depending on how you do in each level you’re awarded more power points for the next level. But before this you’re given the option of spending power points raising species’ level. Basic slimes cost 100 points, while dragons cost 400. That’s a lot of potential block breaking, so think carefully about raising a monster.

The first game contains a challenge mode, story mode and VS mode, which is despite what the name suggests, is not a two player option, but rather the ability to create your own hero(es) and try to outwit them over the course of three levels.

Yuusha no Kuse ni Namaikida

Yuusha no Kuse ni Namaikida

Yuusha no Kuse ni Namaikida

Yuusha no Kuse ni Namaikida

Yuusha no Kuse ni Namaikida

Yuusha no Kuse ni Namaikida

Yuusha no Kuse ni Namaikida

Yuusha no Kuse ni Namaikida

Yuusha no Kuse ni Namaikida

Yuusha no Kuse ni Namaikida

Yuusha no Kuse ni Namaikida or2 - PSP (2008)


Japanese Cover

Yuusha no Kuse ni Namaikida or2

Yuusha no Kuse ni Namaikida or2

The second game is broken up into Challenge Mode, which contains 12 training missions and 30 challenges; a lengthy story mode broken up into chapters, and - something which fans of the original had clamoured for - a freeform sandbox mode, where you can do anything at leisure. The story mode consists of 8 main chapters (more can be bought from PSN), where the aim is to raise your demonlord palace out of the map’s central ocean. It follows the previous game where heroes rest at an inn, allowing you time to build your dungeon, after they which they descend with the aim of dragging you out. Up to three heroes will enter at any one time, consisting of knights, axe wielding dwarves, mages and so on.

In the second game heroes have the ability to "save", where they create a flag at which point they will resurrect there if killed. Destroying the flag requires tapping it with the pickaxes. Heroes will wander your corridors with purpose, backtracking when they feel they’ve reached a dead end, and levelling up after defeating enough monsters. This adds tension, since they need to be dispatched quickly - sending an endless stream of slimes to weaken them might seem a good idea, until they level up and become stronger.

The food-chain system is also complicated further with the ability to evolve creatures. When some creatures have been killed a great deal, and their numbers dwindle, they will start flashing, meaning they are ready to evolve. The same goes if certain creatures are starving. For example if you starve your lizards of bugs they will flash, and if you then feed one a bug so it can lay an egg, from that egg will hatch an obese yellow lizard.

To make it easier to keep track of your evolutions, the sequel has a "creature meter" at the bottom of the screen, which is visible when zooming out with Triangle. It shows at a glance the number of creatures you have in relation to each other, with each bar increasing or decreasing as creatures breed and feed on each other. To keep the food chain in order you want a large base of producers (like slimes), and only a small proportional number of higher-level feeders.

The freeform mode is a welcome addition since it allows you to watch how the eco-system functions. You have the option of limitless block-breaking power, plus the ability to select how many earth- and magic-charged blocks the undug dungeon starts with. You can also choose to have higher level monsters released from the start. Pushing L Button will also bring up a menu, allowing you to select and send in any heroes you’ve previously defeated. This mode proves a hugely entertaining distraction, since you can really tinker with the mechanics to create a self-sustaining world, or just fool around and see how things work. With the ability to save your creations, it almost becomes like a virtual pet on your PSP.

An important point to focus on besides the gameplay is that Namaikida is a spoof. It’s a comedy meta-game filled with gags based on the staples of the RPG genre. The names of monsters and heroes, challenges, descriptions, bits of dialogue spoken by heroes while exploring (only in the sequel) - all of it in some way mocks genre conventions and titles like Dragon Quest, Dungeon Master, et al. An RPG barman enters the dungeon at one point, and sometimes when a hero dies he’ll cry out "Why didn’t I save?!" Some challenges have names like The Dragon Question, Dragon Buster-buster, while another is called Yobidase Daisakusen, which is almost guaranteed to be a reference to Tobidase Daisakusen, the Square game that became known as Worldrunner 3D. One of the levels is also called Final Fantastic XIII. Even the demonlord’s personality raises a smile, since he’s not as evil as you’d suspect, whimpering and crying like a child when things don’t go his way, while throughout the game uses a lot of internet slang. Unfortunately most of the humour is confined to written text, and with well over 200 character profiles available to read, that’s a lot of humour non-Japanese speakers will miss out on.

This could create a problem for localization, since America and Europe don’t have the same background as Japan when it comes to RPGs. None of the background is strictly tied to the gameplay though, so a canny localizer should in theory be able to wipe the slate clean and fill it with humour directly referencing the American and European histories of RPGs. So far, many of the English screenshots seem to show similar humor, with references to various movies, music, and of course, video games (notice now one of the heroes is named "Belmondo", a reference to the Japanese name of the Belmonts from Castlevania.)

Yuusha no Kuse ni Namaikida or2

Yuusha no Kuse ni Namaikida or2

Yuusha no Kuse ni Namaikida or2

Yuusha no Kuse ni Namaikida or2

Yuusha no Kuse ni Namaikida or2

EARTH CREATURES:

Slime - Level 1 earth block
The foundational species in the food chain; from slimes spring all other lifeforms (unless we’re talking magic creatures). Although they do little damage on their own, slimes will turn into flowers when ready to reproduce, and these will release pollen which can paralyze a hero temporarily. A long line of them will also severely slow down a hero - until you get a mage who will mow down entire lines of slime with a magic spell. An important thing to remember is that even one or two slimes can enrich and repopulate a whole area, so even as a hero moves deeper into your dungeon, be sure to release a few slimes behind him. When the hero returns to leave the dungeon, you should find that area healthy and full of life again.

Bug - Level 2 earth block
Released from the slightly yellow blocks, these creatures are a dangerous commodity. Needed to feed your lizards so they can lay eggs, one bug can quickly become a dozen bugs which will annihilate your slime population if you’re not careful. If your slimes are abundant, release one bug and allow nature to do its thing. Better yet, only release them when there’s a few lizards in the area, otherwise don’t be afraid to kill your bugs with the pickaxe - it won’t cost you power. Scorpion bugs can poison creatures and heroes, with higher evolutions doing more damage.

Lizard - Level 3 earth block
These little guys like a lot of space to make caves to lay eggs in. Great as support fighters, especially with flowers stunning enemies, the lower evolutions aren’t so great on their own. Bugs will also destroy lizard eggs, so keep an eye on the unborn if you’re trying to breed a lot. Starving lizards will also result in an evolution. It’s fairly easy to raise earth blocks to level 3, so you might want to consider using them to create gateways.

MAGIC CREATURES:

Wisp - Level 1 magic block
These won’t reproduce like slimes, and they have a worrying habit of consuming more magic blocks than they infuse, but you need to work with these guys to create Level 3 dragon blocks. When they die they infuse surrounding blocks with magic. Gateways will also consume them, powering up the monster inside.

Fairy - Level 2 magic block
Released from a block with a heart shape, these consume wisps to reproduce and are the game’s range attackers. They fire magic down long corridors which damage and can temporarily immobilise a hero. Although quickly killed when up close, a few fairies together in a tight place can do some serious damage. If one dies, through a hero or you hitting it with your pickaxe, all surrounding blocks will be infused with magic. They also release pheromones (looks like spider webs in the corridors) which will stun heroes.

Dragon - Level 3 magic block
These creatures are an anomaly, since although they can only be born from Level 3 magic blocks, they’re classified as "other" by the second game’s menagerie system. Able only to attack horizontally they’re an extremely powerful though difficult creature to create. In dungeons with long horizontal corridors though, they are deadly. A good tactic is to create one very long vertical shaft and fill it with fairies to kill and wisps to charge the blocks. As the dragons form, create side-tunnels for them to sit in. As the hero is forced to travel down the shaft to reach the demonlonrd, he’ll be fried by each dragon en route.

OTHER:

These creatures can only be summoned from gateways. To create a gateway you need either a Level 3 earth- or magic-charged block, and you then need to destroy all surrounding blocks so it is free-standing. If you have the chance though, ALWAYS create a dragon (blue star-like magic block), and save the lizard blocks (gold coloured) for making gateways. In the sequel, depending on how deep in your dungeon you are a different gateway will be created. Gateways can be charged using wisps. Be careful, since if gateway creatures encounter each other they will fight to the death.

Demon - top (brown) level
These lumbering Cyclops are extremely powerful - when they’re not sleeping on the job. With a tendency to eat other creatures and sleep on the job (hitting them with a pickaxe sadly won’t wake them), these guys are tricky to handle. It’s best to only release them as a hero approaches. If they’ve been levelled up by wisps they do some decent damage.
Golem - middle (green) level
Only found in the sequel. Resembling mudmen, these guys will charge enemies and do a good job of dishing out some serious damage. They also don’t sleep and forever wander the corridors, making them extremely useful. (Image shows the golem creature from an early, pre-release version of the game)
Siren - lower (blue) level
Only found in the sequel. Utterly useless. These use ranged attacks like the fairies but are extremely slow when firing, and they do little damage. When a hero gets close they sink into the earth until it’s safe again, rather than fighting to the death. Although this means they’re unlikely to die, they seldom if ever do any real damage, and they don’t have the slowing abilities of other monsters, which even if unable to hurt the hero will at least force them to stop and engage their attack animation. If your Level 3 block is in a blue area, you’re better off just releasing a lizard. (Image shows the creature from an early, pre-release version of the game)
Heroes - all dungeons
These pixelated little bastards have set out to enter your dungeon, slay your minions, and drag you bleating and screaming to the surface, to be prostrated in front of the king. There’s only one thing to do: slay them all!
Skeleton - all dungeons
Fallen heroes can aid you in the afterlife! Just click on them a few times to resurrect them. While still a pile of bones, they can also absorb wisps to become even stronger.

If a criticism has to be raised against the games, it’s that for all the complexity available to you for manipulation, everything feels imprecise; like using microscopes to hammer nails. Specific shapes broken into the rock yields better results, but you’re never quite sure how or why some things are working. The problem stems from the semi-randomness of the creatures and heroes. During one game a particular strategy will result in huge gains and a quick win, because your dragon intercepted a hero at precisely the right time, whereas during a similar occasion the dragon will suddenly turn his back and miss the intruder. Sometimes it will seem that the more you understand the mechanics, and attempt to tailor your playing to suit them, the worse you will do.

Randomisation is a dangerous element to add to games, since it can potentially unbalance and cripple them. While it doesn’t ruin Namaikida, and indeed the whole draw of the games should be the natural randomness of their eco-systems, it does make the game’s main story mode extremely challenging. This is worsened by the fact that the main story mode gets repetitive, following the exact same routine of: build dungeon, grow monsters, hope they slay heroes. While this enables the development of a Tetris Effect, the fact that each chapter can take upwards of 40 minutes is frustrating. It’s not conducive to a quick play before work. Most of the fun to be had is in the challenge mode and, if you’ve got the second game, the freeform mode.

Challenge mode is excellent, and not capitalised on nearly enough. Rather than the story mode’s goal of "defeat all who enter", challenge mode gives you brief tasks, like create 48 starved yellow lizards in 6 minutes, or save the demonlord before the heroes drag him to the surface, or hide him safely for 3 minutes in a giant maze with a wandering hero and no monsters. It also plays around with the shape of the level, restricting you to bottlenecked areas and some pre-designed dungeons, and filling them with difficult tasks like creating a red skeleton. You need to release wisps near a white skeleton, but the little bastards are tough to control and the nearby fairies like to snack on them. There’s a lot of originality in some of the challenges, and the variety found in the stages and creatures available makes for a lot of fun - as does trying to work out the challenge without Japanese (just how do you get centipedes to reproduce?).

If you own a PSP and are tired of the western release schedule, then the second game (avoid the first, since it lacks a lot of features found in the second) in the Yuusha no Kuse ni Namaikida series is available for a reasonable price on eBay from wholesalers in Hong Kong, and is a lot of fun even if you don’t understand the language enough to appreciate the humour. In a world of cookie-cutter action games, this stands as a prime example of wit and originality. Yuusha no Kuse ni Namaikida is one of the most refreshing and interesting games of the past decade.

DOWNLOAD STORIES

Three sets of download content have been released for Yuusha no Kuse ni Namaikida Or 2 since November 2008, available from the official website and Japanese PSN, costing Y300 each.

1) Maou no Inainichi (Not the demonlord’s day)
2) NO MORE CHRISTMAS
3) I am Shota

Setting up a Japanese PSN account is relatively easy (check Google), and if you purchase a prepaid PSN card, from a friend in Japan or via eBay, there should be no problem buying and using the DLC. You sign in, purchase the item as normal (they’re under 1mb each), install on your PS3 and then, having hooked your PSP up and selected USB mode, you can transfer across the file and then load it via the in-game map screen.

Unfortunately it’s not really worth it. The first Download Story, Maou no Inainichi, plays exactly like the standard chapters except you’re playing the demonlord’s female other. Without being able to read the plot it degenerates into exactly the same dungeon making as before.

SOUNDTRACK

An OST was also released, titled Yuusha no Kuse ni Namaikida 1&2 - Giant Recital, composed by Takeshi Hama of Noisycroak. It features 15 tracks from the first game, and 17 tracks from the second, for a total of 32. Available on Amazon.jp for Y2,310.

OTHER VERSIONS

While there isn’t much documentation on them, there’s seems to have been a couple of indie games inspired by Namaikida.

One of them, found on a Japanese nicovideo blog, appears to be a homebrew version of Namaikida apparently coded for the MSX. But being unable to translate the Japanese commentary, and without a file to download and test, there’s every likelihood this is an art project doctored by someone with too much time on their hands.

The second title, which we have video proof of, is an indie game by the name of Snow Black and the Seven Dwarfs, entered in the 2008 Korea Indie Game & Gamedia Competition, which was sponsored by the KOGIA (Korea Game Industry Agency) and KGDA (Korea Game Developers Association). And it caused quite a bit of controversy! It would seem Snow Black won some form of prize at the KIG&GC, until judges discovered it was plagiarising an existing game and the prize was retracted. Judging from the screens an online videos, it’s amazing the guy thought he could get away with it.

Artwork

Artwork

Artwork

Artwork

Soundtrack Cover

MSX Mockup (??)

Snow Black and the Seven Dwarfs

Links>

(You can also read a copy of the game's English instructions, included with the Asian release, here.)

Official website, first game
Official website, second game
Official website, Mobile Phone version
Development screens and interview
Detailed Wiki site with strategic tips (Japanese)
Menu translation for second game:
OST review
News story detailing Snow Black
Japanese Wikipedia entry
Blog entry on possible MSX game
The Games Database - Review
Conway’s Game Of Life with JAVA version

Artwork

Artwork

English Screenshots

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