Waku Waku 7: The game that DARES you to play it.

With a name like Waku Waku, you know it's good. Or really, really bad. Fortunately, it's good. At being bad. At sucking. Which makes it good again. Confused? Good. Waku Waku 7 is one of the hordes of kickass fighting games produced for the Neo Geo (in between inept puzzle games and strip mahjongg), is gold for those of us who think cute graphics and poor language skills are funny. So, yeah, I liked it.

"Yeah, I liked it?" That doesn't constitute an in-depth review! What about the endless whining about play control, graphics, sound, and a prerequisite paragraph in which the 'jaded gamer' relates some trivial convenience store incident to the game? Well, if you insist.

Waku Waku 7 is blessed with a truly innovative storyline, the likes of which has never been seen before.* There are seven magical Waku Balls, which, when gathered together, will summon a sickly greenhaired fairy to grant your deepest wishes. Whoever comes into contact with one of them is possessed by an intense desire to obtain the rest of them. Violent antics ensue as the character of your choice challenges the other ball-holders. And get used to that sort of unintentionally funny terminology; this game actually features a scene in which a Mario-esque police chief exclaims, "Balls, balls balls!"

*Outside of Dragon Ball or the story ideas in How to Draw Manga #1 or any generic RPG that has you gather X Items of Power for whatever reason.

Only in your wildest crack-dreams did you imagine something like this. Here's the drug-induced cast now. From left to right: Fernandez, the Red Death; Rai; Slash; Tesse; Politank-Z; Mauru; Dandy-J; Arina; and Bonus-kun. Fernandez is actually the trippy final boss, and Bonus-kun is simply a mysterious... something who periodically shows up to test your abilities. Those two are only playable in the console version 2-player mode. Maybe in the arcade version's, too, but I never bothered to switch back and forth. For this first bout, I have chosen Indiana Jones impersonator Dandy-J (and company) and I'll be facing myself as Arina.


As the scene opens, Arina is chatting with her friends, when Natsumi, my lovely bucktoothed assistant runs up with her cat and yells something that could either be 'Ready!' or 'Lucky!' or something. Arina isn't too impressed when I appear in my Crocodile Dundee hat with bullwhip and fatigues, and wittily retorts, "Don't get near me! You're so grotty!" Dandy-J seems to take this pretty hard, and the two begin to beat the stuffing out of each other with hyper-martial arts. After a flurry of punches and failed controller movements, Arina gets a feel for the controls and flings a tiny star at Dandy J, who responds by throwing his electrified whip at her. An upbeat J-pop number plays on and she counters with a Hurricane Kick which she didn't steal from Ryu in Street Fighter, followed by a devastating butt-bounce. As Dandy flies across the screen and hits the wall of the surf shack with a satisfying SMACK, Natsumi yells 'OK!' and reaches down for the cat, which suprises her by catching her arm and flinging her at Arina, knocking her down for the count. And I sit there blinking in confusion, realizing I may have just had the most satisfying fighting game experience of my life.

So many goggles...

*snif... that hurts...Meet Rai. He's utterly convinced he's the hero of the game, and it didn't help matters much when they let him give the controller instructions. There was some backstage controversy that Arina had gotten the first appearance in the opening animation, but they appeased Rai's crybaby fits by letting him be the one to 'punch' the title onto the screen. He also seems to think he's clever. At right, he threatens robot maid Tesse with a polite good-bye. Ever the rebel, Rai rides his bicycle to every match, usually always ending up in a crash. I keep waiting for just once, him to hurt himself so badly he's forced to sit the round out so I can skip his cries of 'SUPER-PLASMA-UPPER!' and his incessant 'Ikou!' every time he stands up.

If there were one pressing thing in my mind about this game, it was the abundance of goggles. Rai and Arina both sport goggles on their foreheads, as do Arina's posse and the kids in Rai's stage are all wearing goggles either on their foreheads or necks. Why so many pairs of goggles? And why never over their eyes until the end of the game? Oh well, it suits them all as well as their fingerless gloves and windbreakers.

Bonus-kun attempts to be funny.Slash is a demon hunter from the demon world. Though it seems that would force him to kill himself, he instead decides to get all the Wakuwaku Balls so he can free all the people possesed by the evil spirits. In his ending, the sickly green fairy misinterprets this as 'release all demons,' and Slash is chased on and offscreen by a herd of Fernandezes. Regardless of his social problems, you gotta love that man's coat. Not as cool as Vash the Stampede's, but getting there.

I could have sworn at the beginning, robo-maid Tesse's goal was to become human. And yet, when all is said and done, her wish is to cure 'The Doctor' of some mystery disease. I suppose it was a 'noble sacrifice.' Still, her journey provides her with several valuable insights about people:

"Mr. Tank, you are different from me, and you can give me a ride..."

Uh... yeah.

Arina, you flatter me.Politank-Z is a real freakshow. Manned by a Mario Brother and a dog, this thing joins the rest of the cast in snagging on traditional martial arts with an array of poison gas, firebombs, grinding treads, spikes, drills, and the deadly Crotch Gun. Not that that's the official name for it, I just figured by Capitalizing Certain Words, it might become a Legitimate Game Term.

Mauru is an amorphous purple creature that barks like a dog and has a super fire-puke attack that will most assuredly kill you if it connects. Not much to comment on here, except it loves children and is trying to help the little girl on his back find her parents.

At the game's end, after you've defeated all the other... uh, fighters, you place the seven balls in some kind of altar, freeing a rather sickly looking green-haired fairy. She thanks you for freeing her, but seems less jubilated at the release of the demonic Fernandez. Fernandez is an enormous black orb with little bat wings and a maniacal grin. Let me say, even if being swallowed whole and shot out of its behind isn't exactly a normal throw, it's at least a fitting final boss for this game. And dear god, has he got the most horrifying victory pose.

I think I'm cracking up. Rate it!
Graphics: 5
Nice and cartoony, but it can get pixelated as the camera zooms in and out. The overall graphics make up for this though- little touches like the oscilloscope on the boombox in Arina's stage moving in tune with the BGM.
Sound: 5 Possibly one of my favorite video game soundtracks, I especially like the song played in Arina's level.
Gameplay: 5 A nice, responsive fighting game with intuitive controls even on a bloody keyboard. How I missed them.
Overall: 6 If you inverted all the nasty things I said about the other games thus far, it would probably overshoot my opinion of this game. But not by much.
Spoony Bonus: +3 This miscellaneous score factors in the sight gags and zany quotability.

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