With just two games left to discuss, I've come near the end of documenting my most personally-influential NES games. Today's article is dedicated to the whimsical musical-shooter, Otocky (ASCII, 1987).
I've tried my best to rank these ten games by how influential they've been. Now, after some reflection, I think Otocky belongs in a higher spot on the list than #7. But barring my going back and rewriting months of blog posts, there it remains.
- Zooming Secretary
- Hello Kitty World
- Super Mario Bros.
- Dance Aerobics
- Tecmo Super Bowl
- Apple Town Monogatari: Little Computer People
Otocky is a Famicom Disk System game designed by interactive artist Toshio Iwai, who is better known for his cult-classic Nintendo DS game Electroplankton (and perhaps less known for his unreleased Super Famicom/SNES game Sound Fantasy).
Like Electroplankton and Sound Fantasy, Otocky defies genre boundaries by incorporating gentle, playful music composition mechanics. Otocky looks and plays a bit like a side-scrolling shooter, but it's much more.
Otocky features an Astro Boy-esque hero who flies through various worlds, destroying enemies along the way. Your weapon is an 8-direction cosmic yo-yo of sorts, which bops baddies while playing a music note. As you shoot this weapon, you also create the level's soundtrack, and the carefully predetermined scales ensure that it's always a pleasant one. Throughout the game, you can acquire different "instruments" for your weapon, allowing for a variety of tones and melodies. This skillful tool-assisted speedrun shows a great playthrough of the game in under 20 minutes.
In addition to this main story mode, Otocky offers a freeplay mode devoid of enemies to allow you to focus on composing tunes. There's even a Mario Paint-esque music maker mode that lets you compose music.
There are so many things I love about Otocky. The art style is really interesting. I love the final stage in particular because it doesn't look NES-y to me. Music notes fly by in a dizzying array of colors thanks to rolling palette and attribute table rewrites. It's a great effect.
Otocky was pretty pivotol for me as an NES developer. It beautifully dances on the line between experimental art game and traditional arcade shooter. It's unique yet has broad appeal—there's something for everybody—which is something I really admire. And Otocky, alongside Dance Aerobics, is a big inspiration for my really early work making chiptune composition games, music-puzzlers, and TRACK+FEEL II for the NES.
Thanks to the weird and wonderful Otocky!
Posted February 10 at 10:55 PM while