Susume! Mamotte Knight: Hime no Totsugeki Serenade keeps the nostalgic spirit alive

Susume! Mamotte Knight: Hime no Totsugeki Serenade
Best Import-Only Game
Best Local Multiplayer Game
Best Original Soundtrack
Best Tower Defense Game

There’s a good reason that we here at Michibiku are fans of the Gotta Protectors series enough to keep up with its often-hard-to-follow information flow. It’s not that the games are ever particularly impressive in size or mechanical depth. It’s not that they tell interesting stories, or that they’re just so polished that they can’t be ignored.

It’s this: they’re always a heck of a lot of fun to play with friends in a way few games can match.

Susume! Mamotte Knight: Hime no Totsugeki Serenade is the third game in the series, after Xbox Live Indie gem Protect Me Knight and 3DS entry Gotta Protectors. The first game was a condensed half-hour joy, and the second added tons of customization and variation to make it an engrossing handheld release for both solo and co-op play. Both were essentially action tower defense games, with traditional retro combat combined with some small barricade building to impede the progress of waves of foes. The connecting thread: each character is simply enjoyable to use, be it the screen-filling flames of the mage or the lightning-fast swipes of the ninja. Each has a very clear, limited role, but that leaves you to consider how best to use those skills against oncoming enemies.

While we’d have loved just another Gotta Protectors on a modern platform, Susume! changes the formula once again, bridging the gap somewhat between the first two games. With the focus now on fun play sessions for both local and online groups, it scraps some of the progression and customization for a game based on picking loadouts and learning stage gimmicks. The first game kept maps one screen large to keep all players on one screen, and the dedicated 3DS release didn’t need to worry about that and expanded to free-roaming play, this game combines both ideas with a moving train to keep the princess moving (and the screen with her), while exploring a larger general area. It’s different. We may still like the 3DS game better. But it’s great that it doesn’t just replicate something we’ve done before, instead serving a different purpose.

Also the music’s pretty solid, we suppose.

The most popular selling point of the franchise comes from the developer’s strength. Ancient is helmed by Yuzo Koshiro, and since the beginning, the games have been filled with tracks from Koshiro and his composer friends that are both catchy and faithful to various retro hardware. There’s default Famicom music, FM sound packs that show off Sega expertise and… even some WonderSwan tunes in the works for this one?

Gotta Protectors is definitely a passion project for both its composer and its practical sole designer and programmer, and all elements of the game show that “I wanted to make it, so it’s here” carefree spirit that is a delight in contexts like these. There are “boss mode” screens to hide your gameplay like you’re on an old computer at work. There are hidden collectible cartridges with fun names to find by exploring the game’s world. Again, WonderSwan DLC.

Susume! Mamotte Knight was announced for a Western release some time ago, and we hope to see it after a shorter wait than the 3DS entry. Fingers crossed.

Questions? Comments? Talk to us on Twitter or Facebook!