■ Original Title: サイキック５
■ Publisher: Jaleco
■ Developer: NMK
■ Release Date: 1987
■ System Specific: Arcade
■ Genre: Action
■ # of Players: 1 Player Only
Video game company NMK (Nihon Maicom Kaihatsu) was certainly among the best「low-profile」dedicated arcade developers of their time. Founded by the former Tehkan Ltd. (now TECMO Ltd.) staffers that developed the arcade cla$$ic「Bomb Jack」, NMK was established in 1985 and remained active until 1996, leaving behind a selected but diverse library of high-quality games. Throughout most of their active years NMK worked principally as a subcontractor under more prominent game companies, and this unfortunately prevented many of their best games to become associated with the NMK brand name. It was really only after the company filled for bankruptcy in 1999 that NMK truly began to get their much overdue and deserved fan appraisal.
I have already covered in this blog the excellent「Super Dimension Fortress Macross」games that NMK developed for BANPRESTO, and this should give a hint about the quality of NMK as a game developer. But other notable NMK releases include game titles such as 「Thunder Dragon I & II」,「Task Force Harrier」(UPL),「Butasan」(JALECO),「Bomb Jack Twin」,「Operation Ragnarok」(SNK) and「Makai Densetsu」(JALECO). But perhaps their finest work ever was the game that rose them to prominence in the first place: The 1987 hidden masterpiece Psychic 5!
※ABOUT PSYCHIC 5
Psychic 5 is a multi-directional scrolling action game of a very unusual and novel design for it's late 80's release date. The game became notable for its deep gameplay mechanics and complex scoring system that were unparalleled in comparison with any other contemporary arcade game of the period. And while the game never became a smash hit, nor it earned NMK much fan appraisal at the time as it did to its publisher JALECO. Nowadays Psychic 5 has become a respected「cult」game and a testament of NMK as a game developer.
Psychic 5 can only be described as an unique「out of the box」type of game that gave a new twist to the simplistic and otherwise common game tasks of collecting items and getting a high score, handling them in a very unorthodox and distinctive manner that was real innovative for a 1987 game. The single player team based gameplay mechanics were also unconventional at the time, specially for an arcade action game. In fact Psychic 5 was released the same year that Nihon Falcom released their cla$ic title「Dragon Slayer IV: Drasle Family」, which was another game that became notable for its team based gameplay mechanics (although they weren't implemented as seamlessly or as intuitive as in Psychic 5). The influence of Bomb Jack can also be seen in Psychic 5 as the action is mainly handled vertically, instead of horizontally as it's the norm of 2D side-scrolling action games.
So NMK implemented PC game level gameplay mechanics into Psychic 5, but since Psychic 5 is an arcade game it could not be as demanding as a PC game, and this is perhaps where NMK's brilliant programming really shines. Psychic 5 is designed in a way that the player is not required to fully understand or even make use of the scoring system to enjoy and complete the game. However, players that understand and take advantage of the game's unique gameplay mechanics will undoubtedly find Pyshic 5 more enjoyable, rewarding and even more challenging!
※ GAME OBJECT ※
In Psychic 5 the player commands a group of five different individuals with ESP powers properly named「ESPERS」. The player must take advantage of the special attributes of each ESPER to traverse the 8 maze-like game stages called「Scenes」with the ultimate goal of defeating the Devil King「SATAN」who will be waiting in his throne at the end of each Scene. At the beginning the player will only have access to the two default ESPERS AOKI and AKIKO, while the rest of the characters must be rescued throughout the adventure before they can become playable. The player must also complete each Scene under a 2 minute time limit, and failing to do so will result in the loss of a player life. However the player can obtain valuable extra time through special items or by reaching the various check point barriers located in every area. Something unique to Psychic 5 is that the player will always get an extra life from defeating the Scene boss SATAN.
【 HOW TO PLAY 】
■ 8-way Joystick ... Handles character movement
■ A Button ... Jump
■ B Button ... Attack
■ Joystick up + A Button ... High Jump
■ Joystick up (hold) after jumping ... Hover
■ Joystick down after jumpng ... Quick Drop
【 Commanding the Psycho Soldiers !! 】
All of the five playable ESPERS have their own set of special attributes that makes them different from each other. Knowing how to make the best use of the unique abilities of each ESPER is the key to succeed in the game. Besides the four main character abilities explained below, there are two other relevant character attribute which are not listed:「SIZE」and「SPEED」. The character's size is actually a very relevant attribute in Psychic 5. Characters with a small size will be less likely to get hit by the enemy or by the various hazardous contraptions found in the game. Small characters will also be able to move through the narrow areas no one else can.
JUMP ... Determines how high the character can jump. Only characters with a high enough jump ability will be able to reach the higher areas that may be necessary to continue exploring the area.
HOVER ... This ability determines how long can the character remain airborne after jumping.
POWER ... This is the more specialized ability and it determines how proficient the character is at throwing down the locked doors that will be blocking the way throughout the game. Characters with a low power ability will take longer to push down the doors and this can result in a serious time loss for the player.
ATTACK ... Determines the amount of damage the character can inflict on the enemy.
It is very likely that the inspiration for the design of the five ESPERS is based on the popular teenage detective club novesl, in which teenagers of all physical and social types despite their differences join together to form a club and solve mysteries.
NAOKI ... The baseball cap-wearing rascal and leader of the gang. Naoki is the overall best balanced team member and the ideal choice to start any Scene.
AKIKO ... The only female team member. Little AKIKO is the smallest character of the group and this gives her a lot of advantages. Her high hovering ability also makes her good boss killer alternative and an excellent character for exploring. But most notably AKIKO has perhaps the highest hidden potential of the group. Under the effect of the「P」 item (MAX ATTACK ability), AKIKO can become the deadliest and more efficient team member.
BUNTA ... The obliged overweight (and probably rich) team member. At the beginning BUNTA will be the natural enemy and boss killer of the group, as thanks to his high attack ability he will be able to defeat SATAN with just three hits. BUNTA also has the highest power ability of the group, which means he can throw down locked doors like domino chips saving up a lot of valuable time. Unfortunately his low jump ability makes him unable to reach higher areas, and thus an unfit character for exploring.
MAKOTO ... The obliged intelligent and geeky team member. MAKOTO is the tallest character in the game and this makes him very susceptible to get hit by the enemy or get crush by the moving platforms. MAKOTO does have the highest jump ability of the group and is also the fastest character, but in reality that does little to compensate for the many downsides of his big size.
GENZHO ... The trademark grampa character. GENZHO is a very interesting character to use as he has the highest hovering ability and his Psycho Wand is the most powerful weapon in the game So once you've rescued him, he can replace BUNTA as the boss killer team member. His only real drawback is his awfully low power ability, so don't waste time trying to push any doors with him.
【 TECHNIQUE 】
Psychic 5 has many diverse and fun gameplay mechanics. Use the following special techniques to help you beat the game!
The Psycho Hammer
ESPERS can use their psycho hammers to attack the enemy. If an ESPER is not strong enough to defeat an enemy in a single strike then they will stun it instead and render it harmless for a couple of seconds. When the enemy is stunned it becomes possible to walk through them without the risk of getting hurt.
Rescue your companions!!
The Devil King SATAN has trapped your companions inside various magic jars and scattered them all over the different game areas. Remember to be always on the look out for any trapped companions so you can add their strenght to your team.
Use the Telephone Booths!!
You can swap team members at the telephone booths that will be located at various convenient spots in every Scene. Make good use of them and pick the right ESPER to deal with the task at hand.
Check point barriers will add 30 valuable seconds to your time limit. Pay special attention to the「ON」sign as some barriers can only be accessed from one side.
Throughout the adventure you will come across various locked doors which cannot be opened and the only way to advance further will be to throw them down by moving and holding the joystick in the direction of the door. But just how fast can an ESPER complete this process will depend on his/her POWER ability.
Don't step on the scale models!!
These annoying scale model houses can slowdown your walking speed by half and also prevent you from jumping (so you don't break them I guess?). Make sure to avoid walking through them easily by using your hovering ability.
Who turned off the lights!?
Touching the「SW」light switch will turn off the lights and you will be unable to see the background for a few seconds. It will also disable any flames in the are, which can be used to your advantage.
Smack the Witch!!
The Devil King SATAN has sent the evil witch ZARA to spy on you! So if you have the chance smack her with your hammer and steal her broom! Riding the broom has the same effect than the TIME STOP item but with the added advantages of flying and invisibility. Furthermore you will be able to throw down locked doors with a single strike and even use telephone booths!
A Question of Time!!
Remember that you're in a race against time so try to not dilly-dally around! There are various ways to gain extra time like special items, reaching the check point barriers and riding the witch broom.