Tenjin Kaisen / Mercenary Force (GB) (1990)
Developer: Kaze

Review by Faididi and Co.

Last hired, first fired

Story: Below Average

Life in feudal Japan turns for the worse when hordes of demons seize several castles, but the times must be really bad when mercenaries need to be hired to wipe out the monsters. The story is pretty much nil, and the sorry excuse of an ending is a major disappointment. The translations in the English versions suck, too.

Gameplay: Below Average

Kaze's Tenjin Kaisen (Mercenary Force) is essentially a space shooter, albeit one with an unusual setting and a few interesting character ideas. Each of the 7 stages begins with the hiring of up to four heroes, who then proceed to fight together through swarms of monsters as the screen automatically scrolls from left to right. The coins collected from defeated foes go into the Player's account.

As long as you can afford to hire them, the heroes can be any mixture of 5 different character classes, and the classes each have their own attack patterns, stamina levels, and hiring costs. For example, the ninja throw quick but short-ranged shuriken straight forward, while the monks shoot powerful twin lightning bolts at an angle but demand a much higher fee. In addition, the heroes can change their formation at any time. They can line up side by side to spread out their shots, or they can bunch together into a square formation to reduce their overall profile and to concentrate their fire. Every hero also has the ability to sacrifice himself or herself to summon a powerful deity, who serve as megabomb-like special attacks that can easily defeat enemies and temporarily protect the rest of the party.

Unfortunately, these neat ideas go to waste under the heroes' aggravatingly low movement speed and the awful level and enemy designs. The annoyingly cluttered stages all look alike, while the enemies don't resemble mythical Japanese creatures as much as they do generic, forgettable drones. There are no power-up items, and the heroes can restore their stamina only by purchasing overpriced food at the few shops that are scattered throughout the stages. Using the money to actually upgrade or at least replace the party members at these shops would've made more sense.

Controls: Poor

No other space shooter has heroes who move relative to the screen as slowly as the ones here. Their hopelessly sluggish pace makes dodging enemy attacks needlessly difficult and frustrating as hell.

Graphics: Poor

The characters are drawn small, and the backgrounds contain only a mediocre level of detail, yet the game suffers from a lot of slowdown.

Audio: Below Average

The characters attack and explode with repetitive, similar-sounding snapping noises. The brief, unmemorable tunes loop frequently.

Overall: Poor

Tenjin Kaisen's abhorrently slow movement controls, sloppy level and enemy designs, and weak graphics will turn off even the most hardcore fans of its genre. This hardly playable mess is a pathetic showing when there already exist space shooters like Namco's Dangerous Seed, which also features a team of units that attack in different patterns but doesn't suffer from so many fucking problems.

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