Nippon Ichi Software (NIS) is at it again, with another obscurely titled, over-the-top RPG for the PSP. ‘Z.H.P. Unlosing Ranger vs. Darkdeath Evilman’ is ready to teach you a thing or two about unwavering heart and un-losing spirit…all in a nifty turn based, strategy package.
It’s time NIS and I begin to seriously consider sending each other Christmas cards. This is the third of their PSP titles I’ve reviewed this year, and – dare I say – the love fest continues. With each corresponding release, I’m more and more convinced the team at NIS America is both extraordinarily brilliant and crazy.
Enter ‘Z.H.P. Unlosing Ranger vs. Darkdeath Evilman’ (ZHP), the English PSP adaptation of its Japanese counterpart ‘Zettai Hero Keikakuin.’ At its core, ZHP is a square-by-square, dungeon crawler, where every nuance of the main character – including body parts themselves – is fully customizable. If you’ve played ‘Disgaea,’ this should be familiar; it’s the same development team.
To clarify, the protagonist (Unlosing Ranger) traverses randomly generated dungeons via individual squares, with both weapon and enemy detection range corresponding to present square location. These are no ordinary squares, however, as terrain is intelligently factored in, likewise a series of booby traps (spikes and claws) that keep our hero on ever-present watch. Proper use of this squared terrain becomes essential. Enemies will quickly sorround a hero sporting reckless abandon for spacing and/or stealth. Hideo Kojima would be proud.
Now, explaining the plot behind ZHP, however, is a slightly more arduous task.
Unlosing Ranger – as the name dictates – is a seemingly invincible hero hell bent on righting wrongs and defeating the baddies. One day the Grand Poobah of evildoers – Darkdeath Evilman – decides to take down the Earth. As in the entire damn planet. The only thing standing in his way is Super Baby, literally an infant with an uncanny ability to kick ass. The only problem is, Super Baby’s skills are merely of the defensive variety, thus requiring a tag team from the Unlosing Ranger to get the job done sans nappy change.
Seems pretty straightforward until our hero oversleeps…attempts to rush to the scene…only to get hit by a car driven by two inept potheads. In his final moments, our hero hands his powers to a hesitant ‘bystander,’ a reluctant schmo who steps in for Unlosing Ranger to challenge Darkdeath Evilman.
As could be expected the new guy meets a quick death, a stunning result to a public whom: a) cannot believe the Unlosing Ranger defied his very namesake, and b) has no ability to discern the difference between the original and bystander heroes. The defeat subsequently wreaks havoc on the Earth’s masses, putting them into a state of emotional despair. Still following me? Good.
In the land of ZHP, dead heroes – both original and bystander – are transported to some odd hero-training center (HQ) on Bizarro Earth, an alternate world where what happens on the latter produces direct impact on counterparts within the former. Upon arrival to Bizarro HQ, the original Unlosing Ranger assumes a guardian angel role to the bystander replacement, efforts reluctantly supported by a condescending and comical hero trainer extraordinaire.
Bizarro HQ sports some oddities to say the least, including an ability to surgically infuse weapons into your body for character upgrades, likewise a ‘wife’ appearing as a (NIS classic) Prinny. (There’s a wonderful Gamefaq’s thread dedicated solely to sharing these randomly generated wife names.) Give your beloved wife enough of your hard earned dungeon dough, she provides additional storage space for collected items. Not to mention the greatness of hand-delivered lunch meals when you need them the most.