Single Credit Review 006 – Barunba – PC Engine / TurboGrafx 16

1989 – Zap Corp & Namco(t)

Barunba is a horizontal shmup for the legendary NEC PC Engine. A unique control feature allows you to rotate your cannons when shooting. This allows you to pinpoint your fire on enemies no matter where they come from. It took me a minute to figure out that you could rotate either way, as the separate direction is implemented by using the Run button. Since I’m not using a traditional PC Engine controller that ended up being more awkward then it should have been. You also have multiple weapons that you can activate by hitting the Select button which adds a bit of variety and strategy to this otherwise standard shmup.

Barunba is more of a cute ’em up, as you are controlling a pig flying a ship and fighting many animals. At least most of these animals seem to have an edge to them. The music in Barunba is really enjoyable and reminds me more of a later NES Mega Man title, which is a good thing. For some reason Mega Man 6 really stood out in my mind while I was listening to the music on the first level. I wonder if the composer had something to do with Capcom previously or took inspiration from them? Unfortunately, the sound fx were standard though, as typical of a shmup.

I didn’t get extremely far, in my single credit play through, as when you lose your life bar, you are greeted with a game over. It is more of a single hit death mentality without having multiple ships explode. I did, however, get to a pretty giant mid boss that turned the game into a pseudo bullet hell, which was a nice change of pace. The difficulty isn’t insanely hard, but will require a little bit of practice in order to get through a level unscathed.

Each enemy has a vulnerability to a type of weapon you possess, making them much easier. That being said, it also means if you just go through blasting away with your standard cannon, you will have a much rougher time going through a level. That adds a strategic aspect to Barunba that many games in that era did not possess. A couple of the weapons seemed more like a handicap due to not having auto fire. I did like the charge weapon though as it offered not only protection while charging, but also was large enough to nullify enemy shots as it flew into them.

– Pros –
– Variable levels with both shmup and bullet hell aspects
– Not too difficult and not too easy
– Strategic approach to a shmup

– Cons –
– Cute aspect can be a turn off to some
– Nothing extremely memorable in the sound department

– Single Credit Synopsis –
After my first play through I can say that Barunba is the type of game that is going to require a bit of enemy memorization in order to master it. The music is solid and reminiscent of a late era NES title. The difficulty is not extremely difficult, however I highly doubt I even made it to the second level. Usually how games in the genre go is that they take the kid gloves off after the first level. If you’re a fan of the cuter aspect of Shmups and like to experience new control styles, Barunba might be right up your alley.

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