Z.H.P. Unlosing Ranger vs. Darkdeath Evilman review
Nippon Ichi Software is synonymous with long, arduous RPG's that require players to grind for many hours, but in turn offer fantastic gameplay. Z.H.P Unlosing Ranger vs. Darkdeath Evilman is no exception, and is the perfect portable RPG that will devour many hours of game time, without you even noticing.
The wacky and insane story perfectly establishes the overall tone for the whole game. Darkdeath Evilman is about to destroy the world and the Unlosing Ranger is the only person who can stop him. Being late to the battlefield, his panic gets the best of him and he's hit by an oncoming car. As he's dying, he chooses the first bystander he sees to become the next Unlosing Ranger. Inexperienced and weak, your character doesn't stand a chance, dies, and awakens on Bizarro Earth where he begins his training. Your ultimate goal throughout the game is to level up, become strong, and ultimately save the world from Darkdeath Evilman. If you need more more proof of this game's total craziness, just watch this trailer.
Z.H.P. employs the Mystery Dungeon formula of exploring countless dungeons. Every move your character makes gives a turn to all the enemies on screen. This gives players time to think out movement strategies, change equipment, and use items without the fear of being rushed by random enemies. To discourage pointless wandering, a hunger meter will decrease, draining your health when it reaches zero. Combat consists of pressing the square button, or using a special and sometimes devastating attack depending on the weapon equipped.
After a certain amount of successful dungeon romps, you will frequently face off against Darkdeath, and will keep losing until you inevitably get super strong. The zany nature of the game continues when encountering Evilman numerous times, and the graphics engine continually gets better, starting with 8-bit and continuing to 16-bit and so on.
While not exploring, you are given a base that becomes quite expansive as you unlock different buildings and shops. A blacksmith will repair or forge weapons and armor, a scientist enhances your character's stats by using implants, and your nagging wife (who just happens to be a Prinny) demands money from you for living expenses that will grow your storage space.
The most peculiar parts about the game are both the leveling system and the armor system. Every time you enter a dungeon, you start back at level one. At the end of dungeons, the number of levels gained get pooled together as your overall level, which increase your characters stats. Though strange, it's a neat idea which ensures that every time you go through a dungeon, you will level up no matter what since you're always starting from square one.
Every weapon and piece of armor gradually breaks over time, and that time is very short. Unlike other games that challenge you to find a powerful weapon and stick with it, Z.H.P constantly drops new weapons and armor for you to mix things up. Since there is equipment for every part of your body, you can end up becoming half-robot with tank treads and armed with a drill, possibly a carrot tied to a stick as a hat. There are thousands of combinations, many of which are downright hilarious and break up the monotony of combat.
The armory also ties in to stat-boosting. The scientist can implant weapons into your body that will raise certain stats. Once those spaces are occupied, items called Booster Devices can be placed to enhance certain weapons, let you carry more items, or save some important items upon death. There is a give and take when it comes to implants. While armor and weapons increase stats, Booster Devices are then laid on top of those implants, rendering them ineffective, but granting you the bonus of the Booster.
Anyone familiar with NIS games knows what to expect when it comes to presentation. The characters look like they were ripped out of the Disgaea universe, and the voice over work is over the top and humorous, not to mention greatly appreciated, adding personality to each character you encounter.
Anyone itching for an insanely long grindfest on-the-go with an immense amount of customization should look no further than Z.H.P. The amount of content included for the modest asking price is unmatched for a PSP game. Get ready to keep saying, “Just one more dungeon,” after already stating that 50 times before.