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Title: Miracle Girls
Rom Player: ZSNES
Reviewer: Kunoichi

Synopsis: The name, "Takara" will probably be remembered more for manufacturing the Transformers line of toys than anything, but it should also ring a bell with anyone who picked up on the PlayStation during its first years. This was the company responsible for the Battle Arena Toshinden fighting games - the series that brought hugely disproportionate polygon-rendered breasts into peoples homes for the first time, turning a generation of pimply-faced teenage losers into rabid fighting fans in spite of its overly simplistic and all-too-cheap gameplay.

Unbeknownst to America, however, is the fact that Takara has a long history of bad games behind them; Toshinden was just a single episode from their long and ignominious past.

Keeping in mind that games are just a sideline for Takara, whose main focus has always been toys, perhaps we really shouldn't expect too much. After all, just look at the crap that fellow toy-giant Bandai produces with a regularity not even Metamucil could rival - but if you’re going to dive into the deep waters of video game production, I say, you’d better be expecting perfectionist hack writers (that would be me) to declare open season when you produce stinkers like Gundam Battle Assault.

Or, as we are about to see, the Super Famicom ‘smash hit’, Miracle Girls.

Back in the days before 3D, the Action-Platform genre was the undisputed ruler of console games. They didn’t require a lot of thought either to produce or play, but they did require a certain level of skill. Some of them, like Super Mario Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog and Castlevania were truly great, and deservedly went on to produce hundreds of sequels through the years; the rest were unimaginative, uninspired attempts to cash in on the new and growing console gaming market. Yes, the more things change, the more they really do stay the same. Miracle Girls fits squarely into the second category, as both a cheap, profiteering attempt to cash in on a growing public interest in console games, and a cheap, profiteering attempt to get young girls interested in video games. Are we seeing a pattern here?

Miracle Girls seems to draw its inspiration from a desperate game writer’s weekend binge of sugary snacks, hentai (that’s ‘porno’ to you and me) anime and copious amounts of LSD. The story begins with the soon-to-be heroines, Tomomi and Mikage, on their way to class on a normal day at Generic Middle School, when they, their teacher and a few classmates are swept into another dimension by a random wormhole, one of apparently 54,322 that roamed the Tokyo metropolitan area between 1987 and 1995.

They are dumped off in a world whose candy-coated sweetness would make even Hello Kitty retch. A pastel world of city-sized cakes and candy flowers, with tangerine trees and marmalade skies. But before they can start looking for the girl with kaleidoscope eyes, they realize that the inhabitants of this world are none too pleased about their intrusion into this carbohydrate utopia. Of course, in much the same way as a little boy whose sister has dragged him into the ‘pink aisle’ at Toys R Us, the males of the group are instantly rendered helpless in the face of such sugary sweetness, which leaves it up to Tomomi and Mikage, the Miracle Girls, to rescue their classmates and find their way home before dinner gets cold.

And just how are the girls to deal with the menacing beetles and belligerent bunnies that inhabit this Twilight Zone? Eye-lasers? Giant frying pans? Nope. These girls must contend with their foes using an endless supply of gum. Yes, gum. I was okay with the ‘magical girls’ shtick, and I could even deal with the candy-land theme; after all, these are nothing that hasn’t been seen before. But I have to draw the line at the gum. Now, I’m all in favor of toning down the violence in games that are specifically marketed toward kids, but come on, if Sailor Moon’s tiara turns into a radiant Frisbee 'o Death and even perennial pacifist Mario was able to shoot fireballs out of his nose, these so-called ‘Miracle’ Girls had better be able to do some pretty flashy tricks of their own. With gum as their single super ability, they begin to seem pretty un-miraculous.

Throw in the fact that they never receive an upgrade, and must continue on the entire journey relying solely on the power of Bazooka Joe, and you have one pretty disappointing, yet I must admit, family-friendly, romp.

From the time that the girls introduce themselves in the game's opening, it's completely obvious that Takara had hopes of marketing at least a marginally successful toy line from this game (I later learned that this game is based rather loosely on an anime). If there is any justice in this universe, one can hope that this effort was not successful. For the simple reason that Miracle Girls, in a word, sucks. Not in the blatant, glaring way that Daikatana sucked, or the offensively retarded way that Final Fantasy IX sucked; Miracle Girls merely does so little to distance itself from the thousands of other games of its kind that it drowns in the depths of its own mediocrity.

Best Cheats: None

Game Play: 4
Graphics: 5
Music/Sound: 2
Originality: 1
Overall Rating: 3

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