だるま道場 © 1995 Denz
Dharma Doujou is a puzzle game by Metro and Den'Z, and conversion of an arcade game of the same name. The game stars a little monk and a cute shrine maiden who have both been specially trained by their master to battle Y?kai monsters. As a matter of fact, all kind of Oni demons and other strange apparitions have caused major mayhem and mischief throughout the valley, and the two monks decide to put a decisive stop to all of this. In story mode, the player goes through a series of single-screen puzzles (eight levels each containing three rounds), all made out of stacked up blocks. The goal of the game is a heart pounding race against the clock - in each round, a demon, located on the left of the screen, climbs up a rope and must be stopped before he reaches the ceiling and releases a large temple bell onto the player's blocks. And there is only one way to slow the dreaded foe down - the player must use his or her large mallet to hit blocks and make them fall into a separate compartment located at the bottom of the screen (this aspect of the game certainly reminds of Dharma Otoshi, a traditional Japanese children's game). If three identical blocks (or up to eight later in the game) are aligned correctly inside the compartment, they turn into a good spirit and perform a short strike attack against the demon, thus slowing him down. If not, the blocks are sent back to the main stack, and the player must quickly think of a better way to align or shift more blocks. Interestingly, the gameplay slightly changes depending on which character the player chooses - as the monk, each puzzle must be completed within a time limit, but as the maiden, they have to be completed in a set amount of moves. Dharma Doujou features a couple more play modes such as an unlimited mode (where rows of blocks just keep appearing) and a puzzle mode (where the player must align blocks so they match a pattern within a certain move count or time limit). However, although most of the modes are oriented for single-played sessions, a two-player battle mode is also available and allows two friends to fight head to head. Finally, while levels are apparently randomly generated in the story mode, a clever password system lets player save their progress.
Released on February 10, 1995 in Japan for 8880 Yen.
Dharma Doujou was originally released in the arcades by Metro3D in 1994. While the original version provides the same gameplay as the Super Famicom version, the game does have some noticeable differences. First of all, it has more enemies and features colorful backgrounds borrowed from traditional Japanese themes and myths. Additionally, the arcade game only contains a story mode and there is no progress map or alternate game modes like in the Super Famicom port. But, most importantly, the gameplay is slightly different - the player has to move the character around the screen in order to hit a block with the mallet. The Super Famicon version, on the contrary, automatically aligns the player with the furthest most block, and this apparently minor difference makes the gameplay of the home conversion more fast-paced and enjoyable than the original.