( Keith Courage in Alpha Zones )
game Cover
game HuCard
©1988 Hudson Soft / vol.12
Release : 1988-08-30 (¥4900)
HuCard (2 Mbits) HC63012
Action / Platform game

American Version
Released in America as
( TGX020001 )
Mashin Eiyūden Wataru is a side-scrolling action game by Hudson Soft based on a Japanese animation series created by Sunrise. The player takes control of Wataru Ikusabe, a young boy who finds himself transported to the magical world of Sōkaizan. There, the evil Makai king has risen to power and domination and Wataru, helped with the powerful Ryūjinmaru suit of armor, must liberate the land. Each level in the game is split into two phases. In the overworld, Wataru (in his human form and armed with short knife) visits villages, fights minor enemies for money or purchases new equipment (such as better swords, bombs or health items). When ready, he can then travel to the underworld through rainbow shrines - there he activates his battle suit and fights hordes of demons and other lethal foes in an attempt to find and defeat the level's guardian. Mashin Eiyūden Wataru consists of seven levels, features infinite continues (the only penalty is for Wataru to lose half of his money and bombs) and is single-player only.
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Mashin Eiyūden Wataru anime Mashin Eiyūden Wataru was a japanese animation series created by Sunrise and first aired from 1988 (picture on the right). It tells the story of Wataru Isukabe, a young boy who ends up transported to the magical world of Sōkaizan by a mysterious dragon. There, he is given the mission to protect the gods from an invasion of fierce demons. Part of the original creator team is Hajime Yatate who is, apparently, a group of unnamed Sunrise artists (Their names are also associated to other popular Japanese animes such as Mobile Suit Gundam, Coboy Bebop, Escaflowne The movie and Big O). As you would probably have guessed, Wataru was a pretty popular franchise in Japan and spawned countless games, such as Mashin Eiyūden Wataru Gaiden (Famicom), Chō Mashin Eiyūden: Wataru Mazekko Monster (GameBoy, 1997), Chou Majin Eiyuuden: Wataru Mazekko Monster 2 (GameBoy, 1998) and Chou Majin Eiyuuden Wataru: Another Step (Playstation, 1998), and even a LCD game.

Keith Courage in Alpha Zones comic book The American version of the game was renamed Keith Courage in alpha zones and was the official packed-in game for the initial release of the TurboGrafx-16 video game system. This was a rather interesting choice - back in 1989, Nintendo's NES had Super Mario Bros and Sega's Genesis had Altered Beast, so it is anyone's guess as to why NEC didn't pick another one of their flagship hits, such as PC Genjin (which became the pack-in game in 1991) or Legendary Axe to promote their TurboGrafx-16 system in North America. A better pack-in game would have certainly boosted the initial sales of the system. The Japanese and American versions are identical though - only the story, promotional/packaging art and names were localized. Wataru Ikusabe was renamed Keith Courage - he is a member of the N.I.C.E (Nations of International Citizens for Earth) organization who embarks on a journey to defeat the B.A.D (Beastly Alien Dudes), creatures from another planet who invaded Earth after it was struck by a giant meteor. Helped by the Nova Suit (called the Ryūjinmaru in the Japanese version), a weapon created by his defunct father, Keith infiltrates the Alpha Zone, treacherous hideout of the B.A.D. Keith Courage in alpha zones even came with its own mini comic book setting the story for the game (see the omake section).

Teaser text from the American version (copied form the game's manual):
You are Keith Courage. Struck by a giant meteor, the world has been invaded by strange creatures from another planet. Burrowing deep within the Earth's surface, the Planet of B.A.D. (Beastly Alien Dudes) seeks to take over the world. As a member of N.I.C.E. (Nations of International Citizens for Earth), your mission is to defeat B.A.D. and bring peace back to the world. Armed only with a sword, you must first defeat the outpost guards. Then, enter the Underworld. Here you activate the awesome Nova Suit. A secret force left to you by your fallen father, you are half man, half mechanical monster. Nearly invincible, your sword cracks with the power of lightning, as you wreak havoc on the fearsome Dudes. Your goal is to reach the Robo Zone (the seventh Alpha Zone), headquarters of B.A.D. Succeed here and you will have won the game, recapturing the Earth and restoring humanity's place in the universe. You have help along the way. Four friends offer you advice, swords, bombs, and extra lives. Collect the stolen riches left behind by the invaders and buy your way out of trouble with money.


Mashin Eiyūden Wataru manual Keith Courage in Alpha Zones manual Keith Courage in Alpha Zones Comic Book
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Add your Pov here !

Mashin Eiyūden Wataru is a really average affair. Let's start with the good - the game has decent graphics and the overall ambiance is rather pleasant with a correct soundtrack and cool looking enemies. The concept of under/over world is fairly neat and the seven stages offer a lot to explore (although very repetitive). Now let's talk about the bad - the gameplay is terrible and the controls are very messy, especially in the underworld. The suit handles poorly, jumping is a chore and the boss battles are a mess. Enemies also constantly respawn. This is not much of a problem in the overworld - just sit down, activate auto-fire and kill a constant flow of monsters to fill up your wallet, which is a good thing as new weapons get expensive, very expensive. It however becomes exasperating frustration in the underworld. All in all, Mashin Eiyūden Wataru had potential but it feels unfinished, unpolished and totally unbalanced. To this day, I still wonder why NEC decided to pick this game to promote their TurboGrafx-16 system in North America, what about Dungeon Explorer or Legendary Axe? And I'm not even talking about the game's atrocious localization work (the Beastly Alien Dudes, really?). This is bad marketing at its finest.

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