I’m not an expert in anime. But I don’t have to be one to recognize that the harem genre is shameless, baseborn trash. 

Unfortunately, Tenchi Muyo falls into this category of tasteless harem anime. Worse yet, Tenchi Muyo was supposedly pretty influential in getting the genre rolling, so you can largely blame Tenchi Muyo for the genre’s existence. I’m not here to talk about Tenchi Muyo (the anime), however; the subject of this article is the game based upon that anime, 1995’s Tenchi Muyo! Game Edition. 

Yes, it’s actually called “Game Edition” (げーむ編)

First off, look at that title screen. Don’t you think it just screams “SRPG?” …You don’t? Yeah, I didn’t either. This isn’t a substantial criticism, granted, but it’s still weird – sort of like Phalanx’s box art. 

By looking at screenshots, you might think that Tenchi Muyo! Game Edition has very good graphics. In reality, screenshots only paint a partial picture. You need to play the game and watch its animations to understand just how clunky and awkward they are. Characters in most earlier SNES games, like Final Fantasy 4, Megaman 7, Super Mario World, Power of the Hired, Feda, and Front Mission all moved much more fluidly. Take a look at this to see what I mean:

While the quality of the artwork itself is decent, it’s sort of ruined by this choppiness. Thus, I wouldn’t exactly say that the game’s graphics are a really strong point. Overall, they’re just ok.

So too is the music just ok. I won’t argue any tracks are Hong Kong 97 levels of terrible, but none of them stood out for me in any way. They all have that feeling of tired listlessness. There’s no energy or soul to any of them. The one exception is the staff roll theme, which is actually very good. I wish all the tracks in the game were up to par with that track.

Controls also suck. This is another thing that you can’t really capture in writing. You need to play this game to feel how bad the input lag is. It’s among the worst I’ve ever seen. Exacerbating this issue is how slowly everything happens in the game.

Tenchi Muyo! Game Edition’s story is dreadfully simple and uncompelling as well. It’s basically “a girl gets kidnapped, so go to the moon and save her.” What makes the story even worse is its characters. As with every other harem anime, the premise is that Tenchi, an Ordinary High School Student ™ with the personality of a wet tissue paper, inexplicably finds himself surrounded by a stable of gorgeous women who fall madly in love with him for no reason. 

This is dumb

Essentially, this is why harem anime cannot and does not work. 

For one thing, harem anime is predicated upon the protagonist being a Mary Sue: a perfect character who has no obstacles to overcome. Think Rey from Star Wars 7: The Feminist Force Awakens. Tenchi is cut of the same cloth. He’s a character who, despite having no interesting personality traits, is treated by the other characters as being this perfect, divine gigachad. Why should I be invested in the narrative when his success is a foregone conclusion? And how can I get attached to these characters when everyone behaves so unrealistically? Because of these fundamental problems that Mary Sue protagonists present, harem anime does not work on a narrative level.

For another thing, it sends a horrible message to everyone, to the point that it can’t work on a wish-fulfillment level. It’s effectively saying to guys: “just be a pushover with no personality and you’ll get all the girls.” Meanwhile, its message to the ladies is “you’re nothing more than an object of lust; get on your knees and just suck his dick already.” It’s unbelievably insulting and it stands in direct opposition to what real, healthy relationships are all about. A healthy relationship is built upon equality, trust, and mutual care – not upon one-sided idolization. The whole polygamous thing in these types of anime further adds to the absurdity. Harem anime does not portray realistic or healthy relationships, and as such, harem anime does not work on a wish-fulfillment level.

We live in a society.

There’s about as much artistry here as there is in Girls Gone Wild

I wouldn’t know who any of these characters even are because the game spends no effort explaining their backstories or anything else beyond predictable personality quirks (e.g. “Haha I’m a ditzy airhead, look at me, I’m funny, guys!).

Enough about the story, though. It’s abundantly clear that it’s a degenerate story written for degenerate people, so we don’t need to talk more about that. Instead, let’s pivot to the gameplay, which is just as bad.

One of the game’s three world maps

Just like in Mario 3, we have a world map here. But unlike in Mario 3, if I want to ever backtrack somewhere, then the game forces me to redo that battle. Every time I go through the river map, I need to fight the exact same battle, even if I’ve already completed it several times. What gives? Mario 3 was released in 1988 – SEVEN YEARS before Tenchi Muyo! Game Edition – and it didn’t force you to do this. 

Battles are horrid. You can only use 4 characters on the battlefield. Characters have 2 or 3 mobility. Some characters even have 1 mobility. You know a game’s got problems when it makes Shining Force Adam look like an Olympic sprinter.

“Yeah let’s give these characters 1 mobility; I’m sure that’ll work out well”

Mihoshi’s attacks always seem to miss. There’s no way of viewing her accuracy, so you have to just pray that she’ll hit. Or you could just dump her useless ass by the wayside and use another character instead. She’s not worth the headache. I’d have better luck using Zap Cannon in Pokemon.

“Yeah let’s give a character 50% accuracy on every hit; I’m sure that’ll work out well”

There’s a “transformation” mechanic, but it’s pointless. It uses up your entire energy bar (which is also used for attacking), ends your turn right there, and you can’t even move for that turn. There was not a single time in the entire game when this would’ve been a better idea than just taking my turn normally. What a wasted mechanic.

“Yeah let’s force characters to end their turn if they want to transform; I’m sure that’ll work out well”

Every battle in the game has respawns, resulting in extremely tedious battles. As I mentioned earlier, everything in the game happens so slowly. You’d have to play it at 300% speed in order for it to feel comfortable. This slow pace is made even worse by every battle having these dumb reinforcements. And if that weren’t already enough, some enemies have inordinate amounts of defense and barely any attack. These are the most tedious monsters in the game.

“Yeah let’s give this enemy like 69 bazillion defense and 0 attacking power; I’m sure that’ll work out well”

Map design, especially later in the game, is laughably bad. It’s like the devs weren’t even trying. You’ll find no shortage of flat maps with no terrain, terrain bonuses, or anything else.

lol

It’s as if the game was designed by someone who wants you to hate SRPGs. Either there was no QA testing involved, or everything in the game was consciously and deliberately designed to be as frustrating as possible.

The game doesn’t even show you simple stuff, like how much experience you need to level up, or what new skills or extra stats you got from leveling up. The AI is either nonexistent or mentally deficient. 

Sometimes enemies will simply stand in place doing nothing. Not that I’m complaining at this point – just let this game be over already, please!

As the cherry on the shit sundae, there’s even a difficulty spike early in the game. This, of course, means you’ll have to grind. It also means that Tenchi Muyo! Game Edition is one of the first SRPGs that required grind. The only other one at the time was Tactics Ogre, coincidentally released in October of 1995, the same year/month as Tenchi Muyo! Game Edition.

Here’s the final boss. She can’t even move from her spot. 

The entire game took me around 6 hours, including a 40-minute grinding session. It also cost me around $30. I’m at least thankful that I didn’t buy this game back in 1995: back then, it was 10,800 JPY, which was the equivalent to 195 USD in today’s money.

This is one of the worst SRPGs I’ve played. Between this, God Wars, the Team Syukino games, and the grindiness of La Pucelle, I need to take a short break from playing SRPGs. Don’t expect an article next week.

General Information
Year: 1995
Console: SNES
Developers: Banpresto
Translation patch: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/1379/

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Kurisu
3 months ago

Harsh review! I didn’t remember hating this one so I looked back at my own review — I liked the graphics and voice acting. I remember Morph being fairly useful but I don’t see any notes about it in my post.

My final judgment was that it was fine for a casual play if you don’t have to pay full price for the game. I would certainly rank the two Albert Odyssey and Farland Story games worse than this on the SFC, but those don’t have patches so you are spared having to deal with them.

João Guilherme
João Guilherme
3 months ago

Shigeki Hayashi the persona how made this game OST besides making Eternal Eyes OST he also made the 2011 Gungnir OST which is amezing, the game is in my opinion the best SRPG ever and you should play it, he also was involved in other SRPG ost like the uwatermaru games and Tiers to tiara 2 but I don’t know if they are any good, what I can say is that he definitely got better with time.

Chris Kern
3 months ago

3 comments after seeing your video:

  1. Apparently Mihoshi’s missing is a reference to the anime where she’s terrible at shooting; I guess the designers prioritized anime callbacks over making each character usable.
  2. There is no XP in the game; your level ups are based entirely on number of enemies killed. So no matter where you are in the game you can just go back to the first battles and level easily.
  3. The percentage rating at the end is based entirely on recruiting optional characters, and getting characters up to max level. To get 100% you have to get all the optional characters and have everyone at level 8.
João Guilherme
João Guilherme
Reply to  Chris Kern
3 months ago

I mean they could make her a character that miss a lot but as a trade off when she hit she could deal massive damage.

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