There is no denying that Suda 51 and Grasshopper Manufacture are always trying to find ways to innovate. The latest attempt comes in the form of a collaboration between the developer and some of Japan’s best artists. Short Peace: Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day is the product of this collaboration, along with four other short anime videos.
The story follows the main character, Ranko Tsukigime on a journey to kill her father. You see by day, Ranko is just your typical high school girl. A lengthy introduction shows this side of her as she transforms from ordinary teenager to a cold assassin wearing what seems like a wedding dress. It’s pretty much just a typical day in the life of a character in a Japanese anime.
Those not sure what to expect after such a high quality cut-scene will certainly find out as the game doesn’t hold back. In fact, Short Peace doesn’t take itself too seriously. There are moments where a doll version of Ranko will tell players not to worry, since the current cut-scene will not go on for much longer.
Once given control of Ranko, it’s up to players to guide her through various side scrolling stages infested with all sorts of bizarre creatures. The idea is that Ranko must never stop since a few creepy green hands are stalking her, and if they reach her, then it’s necessary to restart the stage.
As she dashes her way through each stage it’s vital to defeat the bizarre creatures that stand in her way. Doing so will give Ranko energy that she can then use to fire a powerful weapon, which temporarily slows down the green hands. There’s also the fact that being able to defeat many enemies in a row will build up a combo, that in return means gaining a better high score.
Given the fast paced nature of each stage, it means that it doesn’t take a long time to complete it. There are a few collectibles hidden throughout each stage. Getting all of them requires making use of Ranko’s various skills, such as being able to hover temporarily in the air after a jump, in order to get to some higher platforms. On a few occasions there are also situations where it’s necessary to defeat every enemy in an area to move on.
However, there is no denying that not a lot of new features are added whilst playing through the stages. At first it’s amusing to play through these fast paced stages. Yet it is also a reminder that not much has changed after playing through a few of them. It’s possibly a blessing that it doesn’t take longer than an hour or so to complete the whole story. Strangely enough, it’s towards the end that some more interesting ideas start to get added. The few boss battles introduced are all very different from the fast paced nature of the other stages. One such boss sees Ranko continue to go up by using various platforms, whilst attempting to hit two enemies, who are also shooting at her.
It’s in these rare moments that the game shows glimpses of what could have been an excellent experience. Not that the other stages are terrible or anything. It just would have made sense to try and add a few more ideas, like the ones found in the boss battles.
One area where Short Peace excels in is the visuals and how often they change throughout the story. It’s not unusual for a cut-scene to even change style halfway through. It demonstrates how at ease Grasshopper is with making the most of the anime setting. Even with some of the bizarre visual experimentations, Short Peace never fails to leave the player feeling inspired. It’s quite the accomplishment given the limited number of cut-scenes within the game.
It’s not as impressive to look at the game whilst playing through the stages. However, the bright colours and other sights typically associated with Japanese culture make up for it. It helps that it’s accompanied by upbeat music, that makes it more exhilarating to try and outrun those strange green hands.
The story itself is also very unusual and in typical Japanese style, will most likely make almost no sense to most that play it. But like everything else that comes from Japan, what matters is the spectacle it provides. In something else, it may have looked out of place, but in Short Peace anything is fair game.
Fans of anime and the wonderful world of Japanese culture will no doubt take great pleasure in playing through Short Peace. The collectibles unlock extras like concept art. There are also extra costumes for Ranko to wear whilst playing through the stages.
Included in this package is also a collection of four short anime videos created by renowned artists, like manga and anime creator, Katsuhiro Otomo. Each short anime video showcases the unique talents of a group of artists. It will take just over an hour to watch them all and it’s worth every minute. It almost feels like in their own way, each of the videos represents a different aspect of Japanese anime culture.
The final piece in the puzzle is Suda 51’s attempt at combining a video-game with anime in Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day. Perhaps that is why it may feel like it doesn’t last too long or it just seems content with sticking to the same formula for most of the story. After all, anime is all about the spectacle and plot twists that seem to materialise out of nowhere. As a final note, it’s important to note that both the anime films and the game’s story are in Japanese with English subtitles. If anything, it’s proof that publishers listen to what anime fans want.
It would have been nice to have more ideas in the earlier stages, like the few shown during the boss battles. But there is no doubt that there is still some enjoyment to get out of playing through the story. The addition of the four short anime videos is a fantastic idea, and one that at least adds some length to the rather short game story.
Whilst not challenging or particularly ground breaking, Short Peace: Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day is still a relatively successful experiment.