Backlog Burndown #011 – Not a Happy Ending?

visual novel

Greetings Backloggers! After a few weeks of old school console gaming pain, I needed a break. Something simple. Something that wouldn’t challenge my reflexes. Something cheerful and uplifting. Two out of three isn’t bad anyway, right? What I loaded up was The Sad Story of Emmeline Burns, a short kinetic novel from developer Ebi-Hime.
The VN takes a story within a story approach, with a framing narrative of a fourteen-year-old introverted girl with an affinity for graveyards who meets another girl the same age while playing hooky from school on Friday afternoon. We then jump into the other girl’s story, a tragic tale from 1851 about young love and a life cut too short.

Visual Novel

Our two main characters

The art here is limited, but the character designs and background set pieces are all quite pretty. The musical score is appropriately haunting. There’s no branching choices here, this is a read it and be done type of kinetic novel.

Continuing the theme of questionable choices then, I switched to Kill the Plumber, maybe the closest thing I’ve ever played to a direct parody game.
In Kill the Plumber, you essentially play as the Goombas and other enemies in a Mario game. Tasked with defending a princess against a relentless stalker plumber, the citizens of the kingdom will sacrifice everything to protect their beloved princess. All the enemies have unique designs, but still have a close enough resemblance to what they’re parodying that there’s no question of what each one represents.

Kill The Plumber

Nah, this doesn’t resemble anything else at all.

Levels are presented as single-screen puzzles, where you as the player must find a way to kill the plumber as he traverses the level, before he makes it to the flag. A timer determines whether you complete the level with 0-3 stars. Getting three stars on all thirty-six levels in each world will unlock a bonus set of twelve levels and a speed run challenge tasking you with completing the full forty-eight levels for the world in under a set time.

Make no mistake, this game is difficult, especially at later levels. Chasing three stars on each level in particular requires flawless, split-second timing. Automatic level restarts tend to mess with that split-second timing, contributing to some levels taking ten or twenty minutes to actually beat. It’s not so bad to just cruise through the basics levels in each world though, and for those three star challenges, there are a couple of good walkthroughs on Youtube.

Kill The Plumber

One of the single screen levels.

Backlog Verdict: Both games are worth playing. The Sad Tale of Emmeline Burns will only take an hour or so unless you’re a really slow reader, while Kill the Plumber is a treat for any Mario fans looking for a twist on that classic formula.
Previous Backlog Count: 1,146
Current Backlog Count: 1,142
Next Time: Console classics are like candy bars for me: I know they’re bad for the health of my backlog, but I just can’t stay away! It’s time for Space Harrier II!

Backlog Burndown is a semi-regular feature on Marooner’s Rock. Read previous columns in the archives, and suggest future games to play in the comments!

Aaron is proof that while you can take a developer out of the game industry, it's much harder to take the game industry out of a developer. When not at his day job, Aaron enjoys teaching Axis & Allies to his kids, writing sci-fi stories, playing classic space sims on Twitch, and riding around the American Midwest on his Harley.

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