Review: Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch (GBA / Konami)
by gabriel leung
WHY, GOD, WHY?
I am somewhat eagerly anticipating the release of ďMermaid Melody: Pichi Pichi Pichi Pichitto Live StartĒ in March, precisely one day before my birthday. The release of that game would indicate a minor flurry of Mermaid Melody activity, it being the second game of that license to sprout upon the GBA within a span of four months. What you see here is a brief insight upon the first game of this thus far three-game series, indicating various concerns and obsessions of mine.
To begin with, Mermaid Melody is an unremarkable manga come mediocre anime. I will merely say that in summation, the stuff is not worth your time.
The GBA game, however, is quite the novelty piece, and not for any intrinsically unique qualities; indeed, it comes with such rare features as wretched singing and wretched singing.
There will be more on the singing later.
If you can't guess by the name, music is of some significance to MM:PPP. Unfortunately, somewhere along the budget line the producers forgot that not just the presence, but the quality of the music is significant. Oh well, if it weren't for such oversights, this game wouldn't be half as exceptional as it almost-is.
That is to say, the vocals which are derived from said show, are mostly quite bad. But where such a trait would damn a televised experience, in the novelty of the GBA package it brings flavour. Well, more like the terrible, terrible flavour of those Asian bitter melons which some people just love to pieces. It's like that.
CLOISTERS CAN BE FUN
The last time I showed a cartridge-based game possessing length digitized vocals to one of my friends, the game was Tales of Phantasia (for THE Super Famicom), and my buddy's reaction was along the lines of:
"Wow, the game must suck, all the cart space probably went into that song."
That sentiment isn't too far removed from MM:PPP: it holds a good many minutes of middlingly foul vocal work, which is propped up by a simple, familiar, GAME.
It's DDR, only without any revolutionary features - they say that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and they're damn right. The GBA game tries about as hard to be original as its source material, meaning it doesn't try at all. You pick a song, you pick a speed, you watch arrows fly up the screen and you try to press the corresponding button on your GBA in time. Should you flail correctly, you will be rewarded with animations of the girl(s) singing. There is a somewhat more unique mode where you can write the song script (which should include as many phrases from Fist of the North Star as you can muster) in kana and play to a performance of it to the tune of Yankee Doodle, but thatís about as hard as this game will push. In any event, the ever-present karaoke text will beckon you to join in the pageantry. Technically speaking, the novelty of having so much digitized voice in a GBA cart is somewhat neat, not that such technology is a stretch these days. The game looks decent, if unspectacular. What can I say: you have played this before, and if you haven't, you are blessed something scary.
So far so boring, it would seem.
You have not, however, heard this before.
In this game, failure in your pursuits will yield irony.
This is not like, say, Space Channel 5, where poor performance will result in the playing of pre-arranged "bad" versions of the current music, nor is it like the INSTRUMENT-NAME-HERE Freaks games, where you simply hear your woefully mistimed notes in place of the normal music. No, this is much simpler and much crueler. Here, the music just roughly follows your inputs; press nothing and nothing will sound, press it around in time and the music clip will follow your input. Thus, only the most consistently accurate performances will yield anything near listenable. For example, you could be perfectly satisfied with a performance of 92% in most other games of the musical ilk, but here such play will bring only fantastic discord.
Thus, this is just about the first rhythm/music game Iíve come across where I prefer to play mostly with the music off. Yes, OFF. Until I can bring myself within 99% accuracy or so, the results are simply too punishing on my ears to bear. I'm not even sure to what ends I keep practicng at this game in self-inflicted monastic silence: so that I can achieve parity with the mediocrity of the original music which sits within the ruins of my broken HDDs? I don't feel that such intense flagellation is spiritually motivated, but rather it courses from something deeper, something darker and more primal. The last game which threw me into such profound introspection was Ikaruga, which falls somewhere on the polar opposite end of any comparison with MM:PPP. End obfuscation.
I don't like B-movies and their ilk. There's something about their general tackiness which my neuroses find repulsive.
However, something in MM:PPP really appeals to that complex in the darkest orifices of the soul which must account for much of the liking of B-stuff for reasons other than nostalgia; something about the treacly, cheesy quality of it all which amuses. It may amuse you as well, though coming to enjoy stuff like this will do nothing positive for your sense of self-respect.
I'd like very much then, to both recommend this little piece of work and to not do so; and no, such controversy is not a sign of any greatness.
You should hear gabriel leung sing. ATATATATATATATA
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<Editorís note: Grab a movie from the sequel (Mermaid Melody: Pichi Pichi Pitch Pichi Pichi Party) right here. It's not similar, but gives you an idea on the voices. I tried out the anime, and indeed, when the characters havenít Ďtransformedí with their magical jewels, their singing is awful. When they don new costumes sentai style, it only improves a little. But itís cute. And donít forget Ė real men read shoujo manga. Maybe.>