Z.H.P. Unlosing Ranger VS Darkdeath Evilman Review (PSP)

Z.H.P. Unlosing Ranger VS Darkdeath Evilman as a whole is one epic final battle. You the Unlosing ranger must defeat the evil Darkdeath Evilman and save the world and super baby from his clutches, while making sure people around the world don’t lose hope. It couldn’t get any more badass even if it had Chuck Norris in it.


Darkdeath Evilman came to destroy earth and it is the Unlosing ranger’s job to defeat him. On the way to the final battle the Unlosing ranger gets run over by a van and dies. But not before handing his trusty costume to a nearby random pedestrian, who you get to name, and sending him on his way to defeat Darkdeath Evilman. As you might presume you are no match and are killed immediately during a humorous 8 bit style battle.


You wake up in the hero training grounds and with the help of a weird girl and the spirit of the previous Unlosing ranger it’s your goal to whip up your loser hero into shape and head back to earth for the final battle.


Z.H.P. Unlosing Ranger VS Darkdeath Evilman - Final Boss

The entire game is told in a humorous tone. Everything from the missions you take on to the characters you meet. So it may seem that the game doesn’t take itself too seriously, but beneath all that humor and insanity lies a game that tackles some deeper issues in quite an interesting manner. Through the game you will see people who have lost hope because the Unlosing ranger lost and in every level you will have to show them hope. A persons worth, bullying, recession, hell even modern politics are all explored in this game each having its own episode.


While Z.H.P. is a mixture of many genres, at its core Z.H.P. is a rouglelike game. This essentially means you will spend your time exploring floor after floor of a random generated dungeon. Z.H.P is turned based, you make a step and then every enemy in the level makes a step. The dungeons are littered with enemies, items and traps. Enemies usually walk around until you enter their line of sight or they hear the dying scream of a nearby ally, after which they will chase you down.


Z.H.P. Unlosing Ranger VS Darkdeath Evilman - Random level

Like in Disgaea you can pick up objects and throw them on an enemy in order to inflict damage. You can even carry an enemy around if you have enough energy. Speaking of energy, if your energy drops to zero your HP starts dropping every turn and when it’s depleted, congratulations you have starved to death. Your hero is a gluttonous pig as every few steps reduce your overall energy. Attack someone? Energy down. Carry something? Energy down. Want to duel wield? Well I hope your inventory is stuffed with pork because you will die of starvation before you even get to the next floor. Since skills also use energy you will quickly go hungry if you overuse them. This is why I ignored them for the most part as the majority of dungeons had a lack of food, especially if your hero is duel welding as you will run out of energy much quicker.


Since micromanaging hunger isn’t enough, every equipable item has a durability meter. The more you use it the less effective it will be. Once it reaches 0 it will be almost useless and will require a costly repair in the hub. And since your inventory is limited you will either get rid of weapons that have outlived their usefulness or haul all that junk back to the hub since you can either repair it, sell it off, synthesize new weapons or use it for chip implants (seems even heroes need to cheat).


Items give you percent based value stats, meaning that every weapon will be useful no matter what level you are. But this still doesn’t mean you will be using the same unupgraded dagger you used at the beginning of the game since 5% more damage will quickly prove to be insufficient for standard enemies. Every weapon you equip has its own special attacks and boosts, so when you synthesize weapons you can pick what properties you want to keep.


Z.H.P. Unlosing Ranger VS Darkdeath Evilman - Weapon skills

Just like every real hero, dying doesn’t mean gameover, instead you respawn in the hub with all your stats increased. The more you die the stronger you get, just like some other anime heroes which all we know. Also, Every time you die you gain a phobia. For example dying from starvation will give you starvation trauma. Overcoming these phobias will grant you hefty experience bonuses and additionally give you exp for every time you face that enemy type that KOed you before.


But this doesn’t mean the game is super easy. If you die you will lose all the items you had on you as well as all the money. So the best way is for you to keep all your items in your storage and give all your money to your prinny wife (yea, you get a prinny wife who goes around wasting your money).


Your hero starts every dungeon with level one. But this doesn’t mean your grinding didn’t pay off. At the end of the dungeon all the levels you have gained will be added to your total level enhancing your base stats. Another way to boost your initial stats is with implants. Z.H.P. has a place called the Dark Clinic, where an unlicensed doctor will patch you up with illegal implants. Here you place tiles into what’s known as a shadowgram, a grid that represents your body. You can take any equipable item you have and implant it in your body forever changing the item into a chip. These implants give you a bonus to your base stats meaning that every time you level up in a dungeon you will receive additional bonuses to those stats and you won’t fear losing them if you accidentally starve to death. All chips can only be implanted adjacent to other chips, starting at your hero’s heart. You can also add mods which allow you to boost specific things such as amount of items you can haul with you out of dungeons or strength of your right arm.


Z.H.P. Unlosing Ranger VS Darkdeath Evilman - Shadowgram

Further adding an additional layer of depth to the game is the fact that you can manage which shops are accessible in your hub. Since there is a limited amount of slots, you will have to balance what you want accessible at which times, because many of these shops can be called once from a dungeon.


From the visual standpoint Z.H.P looks just like the earlier Disgaea titles. The animations are nice and the imposing Darkdeath Evilman really looks like an opponent worth your time. What’s really impressive is that all equipped items are visible on you at all times, which includes cutscenes. Want a hero wielding a gun and axe while you have a carrot dangling above his head? Well you can! You can even rename your equipment so you can have that gun of justice you always wanted.


Z.H.P. is littered with references from politics (Brick Oldllama) to anime (Dragon Ball characters gain strength by being on the verge of death) and it never ends up feeling forced or tasteless. It also has a variety of anime cameos, ranging from Oreimo to Toradora and Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-chan. Even the protagonists of Disgaea make it into the game.  Both Japanese and English voice acting are great in ZHP. Since a hero should always sound extra cheesy, I played through with the English voices. The music sounds awesome, just like from a 80s hero show.


Z.H.P. Unlosing Ranger VS Darkdeath Evilman - Cutscene


Z.H.P. Unlosing Ranger VS Darkdeath Evilman is one of the greatest games I played on the PSP and I even don’t like cheesy action hero shows. The whole premise is well thought out and perfectly fits into the gameplay. It is a perfect union of all the weird elements it combines, making it probably the best hero simulation game ever. If you are searching for something new and are a fan of NIS games definitely give it a try.


Z.H.P. Unlosing Ranger VS Darkdeath Evilman is available on the PSN for both the PSP and PS Vita.

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