Hands-On Preview: Z.H.P.: Unlosing Ranger vs. Darkdeath Evilman
If the title didn’t give it away, this is one unique and utterly hilarious game. But, then again, I would expect nothing less from the team behind the Disgaea titles. That same sense of humor permeates every last pore of Z.H.P. But, underneath that humor lies a rather complex, customizable and very challenging game.
As a brief overview, you play as a regular, ordinary kid off the street who is given the task of defeating Darkdeath Evilman and saving the Superbaby. Why is this Superbaby so important? Its destruction is supposed to bring about the end of the world. Why are you rising up to take on this monumental task? Because the Unlosing Ranger was hit by a car being driven by some hippy teenagers who aren’t paying attention.
I wasn’t kidding when I said this was a unique title, both in story and in game play. The battles themselves are a cross between a strategy RPG and more of an action-based battle system, with elements of turn-based combat in there, as well. It is, honestly, very confusing when you start out, but you’ll hopefully get the hang of it before too much time. The dungeons are set up on a grid-like system, where you can move one of four directions. Enemies themselves have an “agro radius”. If you’re familiar with MMOs, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Once you get close enough to an enemy (which is clearly indicated on the dungeon floor), they will move toward you to attack.
The goal is to attempt to handle each enemy individually, because if you get more than one ganging up on you, you could be in trouble. For each action you take, the enemy can take one, as well, which means if you take a step toward it, it will move a step toward you. This leads to many times having them chase you around the dungeon floor for kicks and giggles. But, this also allows you to pull the enemy away from others. Why? Because if you kill an enemy who’s sight radius overlaps that of another enemy, the second enemy will come when they hear the death cry of the first.
It seems the whole idea is to make sure you control the flow of battle, not the enemy. Without spending too much time on the battle system here, besides the humor, that is the game’s most defining feature, because I honestly haven’t seen anything like it in my 20 years of playing RPGs.
The visuals are very “power ranger”-like, and range anywhere from simple anime cut scenes to 8-bit battle sequences against Mr. Evilman himself. Fans of the Disgaea series will immediately notice both the music and the art style, as well as a prinny showing up here and there. Z.H.P.: Unlosing Ranger vs. Darkdeath Evilman is definitely a Nippon Ichi game through and through. It may be too “out there” for the general public, even for other RPG fans, but if you enjoy the quirky nature of Disgaea and other NIS titles, you’ll definitely want to check this title out. Stay tuned for our full review coming up soon!