This was one I almost went without. When I first read a review for Popful a couple years ago I foolishly decided not to get it. Why? Lets just say a very unPROfessional mag said it was an RPG for little kids. Alas, I had no one to tell me different, so I went without.
A year later(last year) I was pretty desperate for an RPG, what with Dragon Force not out and not a Saturn RPG that tickled my fancy. So I went to the Sega CD bargain bin at the electronics store with thin hopes of finding something. Rifling through fifty copies of Ground Zero Texas I found Popful. Thinking I could at least have the complete Working Designs-Sega CD collection I bought it, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it really wasn’t childish, but actually a light hearted twist on the usual RPG affair.
Popful is a side scrolling RPG starring a young female elf called Mail. The game begins with her trying to catch a wacky criminal called Nutts Cracker who is the leader of the Ginger Bread Grifter Gang. When his head falls off she gives up and decides to go after a far more lucrative fugitive, the great magician, Muttonhead. Soon after she runs in with the other playable characters: Tatt- a mild mannered boy magician who was once Mutton Head’s pupil, and Gaw- a crazy little blue blob who looks like a dragon and talks about himself in the third person.
The graphics of Popful for the most part were nothing special. The game play scenes were reminiscent of games that had been out for a few years at the time, although the various bad guys were usually quite humorous to look at. Character sprites were some what bland as well, with small bodies and weapon effects that were mediocre but effective. What was the grand exception though were the cinemas. Very well drawn characters and fluid, humerous animation purvey the mood of the game and really helped to motivate you to make it to the next stage.
WD really showcased how much voice acting they could cram into a game with Popful. 39 spoken parts that amount to over 3 hours of voice acting greatly enhance the game play. Every boss or mid boss(that isn’t a machine) has a little dialogue with you before the battle, and even some minor npcs(non player characters) have voices. The in game music isn’t that spectacular, and sometimes gets annoying. But the song at the end, though not quite as good as the ones in Lunar:EB, is very well done.
Controlling Popful is easy. Theres only a few dozen or so items to worry about, controlling the action is your basic two button jump/slash/shoot affair, and three playable characters, all with unique ups and downs. My one gripe is that unlike most RPGs, you can’t gain experience, you start with a hundred hit points, you end with a hundred hit points. The only way to improve your status is by getting better weapons and armor.
Humor is the overriding theme of Popful, theres no mistake at that. With characters who are so goofy they demand to be laughed at its quite a break the usual seriousness of most RPGs.
I recommend Popful to any one who likes WD’s brand of humor, as well as a break from the usual, more involved RPGs. With that said I shall leave you now with the infamous words of Nutts Cracker, “I gotta you now boomba hunter!”