Seeing a game that actually managed to hit all the points that it promises is incredibly satisfying. There’s nothing worse than picking up a title that says it’ll provide hours of entertainment or endless possibilities and then being bored to tears in about 90 minutes or so. It happens, we all have different scopes of entertainment and focus, but it’s still disappointing. When I looked at Taimumari, it’s initially very confusing to try and fit everything together. I see pixel art, but I also see very detailed (and incredibly cleavaged) character sprites, with a ton of exposition on the Steam page but almost nothing on the Nintendo page. The developer, TERNOX, isn’t known for much else other than this quaint title, but has gotten with Victory Road to help this game get published onto the Switch. Having said all that, I can say that there’s a TON of enjoyment to be held within Taimumari, and it’s one of the better retro-inspired games that I’ve played.
There’s a story, and it’s a doozy of a story. I can’t possibly remember the names of all the ancient people and cities and gods and such, but it boils down to the people of this planet previously having mastery over time; which seems like a bad idea right from the start, so I can’t say I’m surprised that a group of “evil” dudes stole the power in the form of a Time Crystal and are using it in planning to create a new world. You play Himari, who may or may not be a cat girl, and you definitely are an apprentice wizard who, inexplicably, is the last and only hope for stopping the evil and helping to restore the flow of time before everything falls to hell. Naturally, by the time you reach the first boss, there’s doubt planted about who the real bad guy is (is it this Joker-looking dude, or the gothic lolita chick, Kanashi, who is orchestrating things back at the village?), but it doesn’t have to matter if you don’t want it to. The point is, you’ve got the magic, you’ve got the sword, you’ve got the touch & you’ve got the power, and we’re all relying on Himari to do something, dammit, before it’s too late.
Taimumari Complete Edition comes with three game modes, though the latter two cannot be unlocked until after you’ve done a full run of the original game with Himari, and it makes perfect sense. One of the game modes is a sort of endless arcade brawler that’s fun but doesn’t necessarily fit into the main game and should really be saved for after other things are said and done. The other is a DLC that lets you attack the main game from Kanashi’s perspective and sort of spoils a few things about the primary storyline, not to mention it’s a totally different play style from how Himari handles things.These exist as both DLC and a standalone game on Steam, so it’s pretty cool that TERNOX has baked these all together in a single release (though I’m looking forward to seeing how the next game, NEXORIA, may or may not fit into the Taimumari canon). The long and the short of it is that, aside from the three difficulty levels for the main game, you’ve got a ton to work with and plenty of reasons to keep playing if you find that Himari’s quest is to your liking. Which, if you enjoyed the NES generation, I have a feeling you will.
Taimumari presents as a very blocky pixel side-scrolling adventure game, with different parts of the game contained in a Mega Man-style “choose your boss” situation. Every one of the “dark” wizards who are holding a piece of the Time Crystal has a lair that’s multiple screens long and fashioned after the aesthetic they’re best attuned to. So, for example, Sir Fallenstar is deep in a medieval castle that’s full of ghosts and spikes, whereas Explosion takes on a sort of automated factory with robots, motion sensing lights and, naturally, bombs. Himari begins with a series of great controls at your command, from an INCREDIBLY generous double jump to a dash (both for attacking and crossing large divides), a sword and an unlimited number of spells that work on an automatic recharging meter and a fair variety that increases as time goes on. You start with a sort of Dragonball-type energy blast, and eventually find spells that match the bosses that you encounter. The spells have both a straightforward attack and a charged attack that does wider/more damage but requires more spell points. Once you beat a boss, you acquire a power from them, but, unlike Mega Man, it’s not an either/or situation. Once you unlock the massive shield from Sir Fallenstar, you can just use that thing whenever you’d like, forever, and it makes the other fights infinitely easier. In some ways, I liken this style more to a Metroid approach than a Mega Man, simply because the powerup path is forever upward momentum instead of just “this or that.”
Taimumari captures a lot of the 8-bit and older generation in a positive way, and I think that the people complaining about the difficulty aren’t actually aware what it was like to hold that grey rectangle in your hand and scream in frustration. With games like Silver Surfer or Mega Man 2, it was both intentional difficulty and inadvertent difficulty that created games we still curse to this day. Mega Man 2 had some great moments and some amazing level designs, but there was a lot that simply didn’t work because you had to actually move and think before the game could even render what was happening, i.e. memorize the whole layout to Quick Man’s levels otherwise you just die a lot. For Taimumari, there’s intentional difficulty, even on the easy mode, that lends itself to a better and more natural learning curve. Sure, you’re not going to be able to burn through the game cold if you’ve never played it before, but you aren’t going to have to commit insane moments of object appearance or split-second pattern decisions in order to make the game work. You play, you learn, you die, you learn more. Explosion was an especially hard boss to deal with because her attack removed 3 hearts instead of one, but, once you realized where you could and couldn’t jump and the splash radius of the bombs, you could make short work of her with the right components.
As you defeat bosses and find power ups in the different levels, Taimumari also allows the player to return to the starting town and “level up” Himari though purchased upgrades using a star currency that is both dropped and found, and this is an additionally interesting (and more versatile) system to add to an already very intricate game. Players are able to decide if they’re more interested in the defense in order to survive, or just going full offense to dispatch the baddies. Do you think your fast button fingers will swing the sword better, or will patience and a very powerful spell do the job? The town is also where you can buy additional lives, which might seem silly at first: after all, at normal difficulty, you get three lives and unlimited continues. However, when you get to the further stages (especially as you get closer to Warai-Kun, the evil leader), you realize that the 40 stars you spend on one more chance could be the make or break on your sanity and how much time you decide to waste going back through all the conveyor belts and all the damn exploding air mines just so you can get bombed in the face again. I hate Explosion.
What I really enjoyed about Taimumari was the balance between classic presentation and design with modern ideals and performances. While there was a noticeable delay between loading level screens (which sometimes worked to my advantage, as the music indicated there was something bigger waiting for me in the next room), the game itself ran like butter across all worlds and areas. The pixel graphics purposely tapped into an old school mentality, as did the massive screens of text to help convey the utter confusion that is the storyline, but everything was incredibly responsive and never left me upset that there was an error in input that cost me my life, only my own ineptitude. The amount of equipment, spells, collectibles and general upgrades made playing through the levels thoroughly worthwhile, and the overall time to run through the primary game once was well worth my afternoon. I declined from re-running it in hardcore mode, but it laid the groundwork nicely for me to go back and retry it with the Kanashi character instead, who is way more vested in ranged attacks than melee and has a bit of a floaty jump to create a better balance of easier and more difficult areas. The storyline really is bizarre and cliche, but it serves the purpose and makes the game fun and moves things forward, plus gives players a chance to admire and ogle the very detailed portraits. And, yea, there’s some fun in going into the Legendary arena and seeing how long you can survive against enemy waves, plus the actual use of localized achievements within gives reason for hunters to want to explore every segment, nook and cranny of this Complete Edition. When a pop up appeared to let me know I had achieved “Butterfly Slayer” for being a buffoon with my sword, I knew I had made it.
The only, ONLY complaint I have about Taimumari is the primary game really is unbalanced when it comes to the combat. Not the boss fights or whatever, those are par for the course and very enjoyable in figuring out patterns, safe spots and tells when you’re about to be decimated. No, I mean the fact that Himari is a damn sorceress, but is given a sword, but is CLEARLY more adept at magic than anything else, and you have to put in a serious, conservative effort to make a melee approach work. The sword is super cool and powerful for all of five seconds before you realize how crazy her magic can be, and it only goes from there. Energy blasts are cool, but what about when you can charge for a second and fill the screen with bombs? Just 100 stars means powering up either your sword or your spells a single level, and it’s so much more worthwhile to do it for the spells and then start saving for the third level of power. Seriously, you dump everything into health and spells and you’ve got yourself a warlock in cat ears that’ll turn the whole kingdom upside down. Just stay abreast of where those spell scrolls are and the main game plays itself.
At the end of the day, Taimumari is just a lovely, well polished package of a game that brings the full, honest work of a developer to the frontline of the console where it belongs the most. It’s perfectly difficult and scales even higher if you’re insane, has multiple play modes, can seriously be banged out in a couple hours if you’re looking for a speed challenge and keeps enough story to be interesting but not enough to make things verbose and ugly. Go ahead, prove me wrong and build a Himari run where you only use the sword, I don’t even know if it’s possible but it could be worth trying! If you’ve got a nostalgic spirit for those old 8-bit adventures and want to prove, once and for all, it was the damn controller and not your playing, then Himari has the quest for you.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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Taimumari: Complete Edition Review
Gameplay - 9/10
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Replay Value - 9/10
User Review( votes)
Exciting, action packed and surprisingly complex, Taimumari has a ton of replay and difficulty without flashiness or arrogance.