PuLiRuLa (Arcade) (1991)
Developer: Taito

Review by Faididi and Co.

The magic of storybooks... and drugs XD

Story: Above Average

Mel, a little girl, and Zac, a little boy, live in a quaint fantasy realm, and they're recruited by a friendly inventor to protect the magical key that is so vital to their town's well-being. When bad guys come and steal it, our heroes set off after them to save the day. While simple, the story earns extra points for its unusual amount of dialogue and its attractive presentation.

Gameplay: Above Average

As its name already suggests, Taito's PuLiRuLa isn't the typical 2-Player action fighter. Its 6 short but detail-packed rounds are full of storybook-like visuals and whimsical themes, but more surprising still are its rapid combat and pacing. Although there are no grappling attacks like those found elsewhere in the genre, every regular bad guy here is defeated with a single hit from the heroes' magical staves, and the bosses don't suck up blow after blow like tanks. Furthermore, Mel and Zac's special attacks can hit all enemies on the screen (not just those immediately surrounding the heroes).

Even if the game may go by a bit too quickly, its character designs definitely leave an impression. The rounds are filled with colorful bad guys in the form of cutesy-looking robots and monsters. The quirky allies who show up during the heroes' special attacks have unique behaviors, the most outlandish ones being the guy who stuffs enemies into a giant microwave and the weird fairy who nukes everybody. Despite the family-friendly graphics, however, the third round is the most unforgettable, due to its uncharacteristic visuals that seem to be inspired by perverted dreams and drugs. Lots and lots of drugs. XD

Controls: Above Average

Moving around and attacking are all easy to do, thanks to the responsive controls. Although the randomized nature of the special attacks is supposedly a part of the game's charm, having greater control over them would've been nice.

Graphics: Excellent

The visuals are where PuLiRuLa really shines. Resembling a playful mix of Alice in Wonderland, Mary Poppins, and young children's cartoon shows, the characters and the scenery are fluidly animated, like a storybook come to life. The animals that the heroes free by beating the bad guys are super cuddly, and Mel is so unbelievably adorable!

Audio: Average

Too bad the relatively quiet sound effects take a back seat to the rest of the game. The music isn't memorable, maybe except for the humorous, annoyingly catchy tune that accompanies one of the allies for the special attacks.

Overall: Above Average

Almost everything about PuLiRuLa sets it apart from other action fighters, from its unusually fast-paced gameplay to its whimsical, eye-catching graphics. Those who are tired of the same old Double Dragon experiences out there will certainly see new things here, no matter how unexpectedly drug-fueled.

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