Review: Z.H.P.: Unlosing Ranger VS. Darkdeath Evilman

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Recently I reviewed Blazing Souls: Accelate … and you might say I was less than enthralled. Actually you might say I brutalized the game. So … another week, another strategy-RPG game, and this time it’s Z.H.P.: Unlosing Ranger VS. Darkdeath Evilman. At first I wasn’t thrilled. I unenthusiastically downloaded it using Media Go, transferred to my PSP Go, and started to play. But then something Matt mentioned sank in – this came from the same folks who gave us the excellent Disgaea PSP games. Suddenly my hopes were up, as were the prospects for severe disappointment. Fortunately, I was thrilled. So for those who thought I was just being an overly cranky PSP hater before (yes, I did see that in a response to my Blazing Souls review!), sorry to disappoint, but I still love my PSP and absolutely adore this game.

The game begins at the end, as Unlosing Ranger gets ready to face Darkdeath Evilman, and only the fate of the Earth hangs in the balance. Sadly something happens, and Unlosing Ranger is in deep trouble – well, basically he is dying, and grabs a young kid and makes him (you) the NEW Unlosing Ranger! That is great – until you met with Dearkdeath Evilman and quickly … um, lose.

Fortunately there is an alternate Earth on the other side of the Sun, and you are transported there to train and learn what it means to be the Unlosing Ranger. The so-called Bizarro Earth is a reflection of our own, filled with dungeons populated by troubled and monstrous spirits that are derived from actual people on Earth. As Unlosing Ranger progresses, he learns what it truly means to be a hero through the lessons given by the spirits he rescues.

The game is a combination strategy-RPG and rogue-like in many ways. You have random dungeons that you traverse and meet enemies, mid-level bosses and full end-level bosses you need to defeat to progress. The combat system is tactical turn-based with loads of options for customization. You gain a base which you can outfit in ways to help you build up more and more power over time, and this is needed since your level resets at the end of each dungeon! Weapons and armor wear out relatively quickly as well, meaning that the only way to avoid a dreary grind-fest is to utilize chips that are implanted in your body to create permanent enhancements to your skills. In this way you actually get stronger over time.

There are plenty of helpers around your base such as a blacksmith, vendor and the insurance agent who saves some things for when you die. But my favorite is your wife, who delivers energy filled lunches to help your stay alive. Oh, and did I mention she is a Prinny?

The game itself lasts for a couple dozen hours, but for the full effect try to delve into as many of the optional dungeons as possible. All of the areas are well designed with great music and generally good – but somewhat uneven – visuals. The other complaint is that in typical form for a rogue-like or strategy-RPG, the game can get very ‘grindy’ at times, as you need to keep killing more and more low level enemies to make it past that mid-boss you just can’t seem to defeat!

But none of that puts any taint on the joy of playing Z.H.P.: Unlosing Ranger VS. Darkdeath Evilman. From the opening credits to the very end the game is over-the-top fun built on a solid foundation with a great combat system and plenty of content. Definitely one of the better PSP games I’ve played in a while!

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Pros:
+ Wonderful sense of humor
+ Loads of customization
+ Great combat system

Cons:
– Uneven graphics
– Can get ‘grindy’ at times

Game Info:
Platform: PSP (available on UMD and PSN)
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Nippon Ichi Soft.
Release Date: 10/26/2010
Genre: Strategy-RPG
ESRB Rating: Teen
Players: 1
Source: Review code provided by publisher

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About the Author

I have loved technology for as long as I can remember - and have been a computer gamer since the PDP-10! Mobile Technology has played a major role in my life - I have used an electronic companion since the HP95LX more than 20 years ago, and have been a 'Laptop First' person since my Compaq LTE Lite 3/20 and Powerbook 170 back in 1991! As an avid gamer and gadget-junkie I was constantly asked for my opinions on new technology, which led to writing small blurbs ... and eventually becoming a reviewer many years ago. My family is my biggest priority in life, and they alternate between loving and tolerating my gaming and gadget hobbies ... but ultimately benefits from the addition of technology to our lives!