Z.H.P.: Unlosing Ranger Vs. Darkdeath Evilman is the newest title from Nippon Ichi Software. The basic premise of this game is that a fortune teller predicted a Super Baby would be born who would one day save the world and make everyone happy. However, once the baby was born, the Demon General Darkdeath Evilman kidnaps her. The hero Absolute Victory Unlosing Ranger rushes off to save her...but gets hit by a car and dies. You play a random person who happened to witness the accident and the Unlosing Ranger gave you his morphing belt before he died, allowing you to become the new Unlosing Ranger. You set off to go defeat Darkdeath Evilman but totally get your butt kicked so hard the World Hero Society teleports you to a place called Bizarro Earth to train. The objective of the game is to become strong enough to save Super Baby.
Are you still with me? I hope so. Like most Nippon Ichi titles, the game’s plot is surrounded in absurdity and this time it’s focused on making fun of superheroes, especially tokusatsu heroes like Super Sentai and Masked Rider, known in the USA as Power Rangers and Kamen Rider.
Many of Nippon Ichi's previous titles have been strategy rpgs, but this is a rogue-like game with its own special take on the genre. The Unlosing Ranger is called "Unlosing" because whenever he dies he revives at level 1, stronger than he was before. In a nutshell, all the levels you acquired before death add a stat bonus that is carried over to your level 1 character, much like reincarnation in the Disgaea games. However you will lose items that your character had on them, so you must choose your deaths tactically!
Also like in Disgaea games, there is tactical use of throwing monsters but now you can also throw items at enemies, and the items have various effects such as inflicting sleep and poison.
The Unlosing Ranger can equip a wide variety of items found in the randomly generated dungeon floors. A lot of the items cause a dramatic visual change in the hero as well as giving him special abilities.
The game also has a subsystem called Shadowgram, which is a kind of license board where you slot items to add perm stat bonuses to your character. Different items will give different bonuses and their proper use is key to becoming strong enough to beat the final boss. The higher your total level is, the more Shadowgram slots you unlock.
There are also a number other subsystems in the game but to discuss them in minute detail would make this way too long. To sum it up, this game, like others from NIS, is very complicated. However, unlike some past titles you don't need to purchase a thick strategy guide to understand the game; the game has built in tutorials for all of the subsystems and the character gradually learns about these subsystems as they become available. Therefore, I personally think the systems are better explained here than in any previous NIS title.
Like most NIS titles, expect to run the same dungeon levels again and again to build your character up. There is a lot of grinding in this game. However the random nature of the dungeon layouts and item spawns help keep things interesting. It's always fun to randomly run into a treasure room, a dungeon store or come across a rare item that gives your character absurd abilities!
The designers seem to be taking a page from Frontierville. They have supporting characters pop up to tell you how good it is to get items or other little info about the game, reinforcing the behavior as positive. I really like this feature; the things the characters say change up enough to prevent them from becoming too annoying.
Something worth mentioning is that there are unlockable dungeons based on popular manga from Monthly Comic Dengeki Daio. Clearing these dungeons will allow you to change your character to look like characters from these titles.
I feel confident in saying, this is a great game. Will it appeal to everyone? No, this is definitely for people who enjoy roguelikes such as Azure Dreams and the Mystery Dungeon series. If you like those types of games, Unlosing Ranger will provide you with hours of grindy, wacky humor-filled enjoyment.
- Carey Martell