Popful Mail was released in 1991 by Nihon Falcom, SIMS Co., Ltd, Sega, and HuneX for TurboGrafx-16, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, PC- 8800, Sega Genesis, PC-9800, and Microsoft Windows.
The game was an RPG, side-scrolling platform game that had magical fantasy themes. Popful Mail was from a third-person perspective and had a single-player mode. The game, back in the 1990s had fantastic and magical lore, a quality that video games use even today.
The game follows the story of Popful Mail, a bounty-hunter who hasn’t had much luck lately. She tries to hunt down Nuts Cracker, who is a criminal golem maker and technomancer. She chases after him into a forest and defeats him. However, his body manages to escape which renders Popful’s efforts useless as she cannot claim any bounty in that situation. She approaches the bounty post with Nuts Cracker’s head but is unable to claim any rewards due to an abundance of counterfeit heads. Even though this opportunity slips from her hands, a new one emerges. At the bounty post, she learns about a wizard called Muttonhead with a bounty of 2,000,000 gold on his head.
Popful then, armed with hope, determination, and her weapons sets out to the forest for clues. This is where the events of the game begin to unfold and the journey turns out to be fantastic and entertaining for both the player and Popful herself.
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There is a reason why this game is considered to be classic of the 90s decade, (or should we say reasons!). Here are some points which Popful Mail aces:
Popful Mail is very famous for its characters. Even though this is a mere 2D RPG game from the 90s, the game has actually very memorable characters. Popful Mail is the central character who has a confrontational personality. She hasn’t had much luck lately with regards to her profession but she doesn’t let that deter her from doing her work. She is very ambitious and hopeful. Even though she failed the very first task of catching Nuts Cracker, she doesn’t doubt herself when she decides to go after Muttonhead.
It won’t be an overstatement to say that having a female character as a lead of a video game with such qualities back in the 90s has had an impact on the gaming industry.
Another character, Slick is also a very memorable one. Slick can be considered Popful’s side-kick who always tags along with her on her missions. Slick has a very memorable personality. He has an obnoxious sense of humor and is always busy cracking poor jokes, much to Popful’s annoyance. His character adds much-needed laughs and a corny sense of humor that makes the entire game memorable.
The game is full of characters that add weightage to the game such as, Tatt, a polite and well-mannered former apprentice of Muttonhead who is after his mentor and looking for the reason behind his abrupt disappearance. Other memorable characters such as Gaw, Muttonhead, and Glug also make a memorable impact.
Gameplay and Graphics:
The game is a side-scrolling platform game that does not give it much scope for advanced gameplay. However, the game manages to entertain the players with whatever resources it has at its disposal. The gameplay is a precursor to all those side-scrolling games that were to succeed it, such as ‘Donkey Kong’, ‘Terraria’, ‘Limbo’, ‘Super Mario Bros’, and many others.
The gameplay was undeniably advanced for its time and it allowed the players to jump, attack, open items and converse with other characters. The gameplay also has elements that can be found in the gameplay of games such as ‘Street Fighter’ which included a health count, affected by the attacks received by the character.
Apart from the gameplay, the graphics were quintessential 90s gaming. They were 2D and from a third-person perspective. The movement of the characters was also pretty typical of platform games that were typical of its successors. Electronic Gaming Monthly praised the game for its,” cinema scenes”. The color palette used in the game was also very charming and attractive to look at.
Legacy Of Popful Mail:
Keeping in mind the above-stated facts, it should not come as a surprise that Popful Mail has had a huge impact on the industry.
The reception it received was very favorable and well deserved. Famitsu gave the SFC version of the game a score of 22/40. EGM gave it a score of 31/40, Next Generation gave it 3 stars out of 5 and it was included in a list of ‘Top Ten Mega CD Games’ by Retro Gamer.
Since its release back in 1991, the game has aged like a fine wine. The game was so popular upon its release that there is actually a Manga series called Popful Paradise published by King Records and a drama series called Tarako Pappara Paradise created by Falcom and published by King Records.
The game is actually one of the very first of its kind. It has impacted games that came after it in one way or another. The game is also a testament to the developers’ professionalism, which was not seen quite often during that period. The devs had worked on the localization of the game, in order to make it appropriate for the North American audience. Several technical changes were made to the game and 2 teams were assigned the work of handling translation which was completed in 4 months.
What are some games similar to Popful Mail?
Some games that are similar to Popful Mail are:
1. Shining Force
How many versions does Popful Mail have?
Between 1991 and 1992, the developers released 2 versions of the game. The game was released for NEC PC-8801 and for the PC- 9801 in 1992. Apart from that, a localized, North American CD version of the game was released in 1994.
Where can I buy the game?
You can buy Popful Mail from ebay.com. However, the price of the game is slightly higher because of its vintage value. Hurry! Before the remaining CD is sold out.