Party Time! Gonta the Diver II, also known as Ganbare! Gonta!! 2, is a sequel to an all-time classic of lewd arcade games — and a game that, along with its predecessor, helped inspire the excellet modern-day lewd puzzler Crawlco Block Knockers.
It is, in theory, quite easy to make a sequel to a lewd game. Keep all the same mechanics, change up the art a bit and job’s a good ‘un. You can even make different “themed” versions of the same game to cater to different tastes, fetishes and demographics.
With that in mind, it’s always nice when a company goes that extra mile with a sequel and makes something that is recognisably connected to its predecessor, yet also adds some interesting new twists on the original formula. That’s exactly what we’ve got with Party Time! Gonta the Diver II (Gonta the Diver II hereafter for the sake of my sanity) — more of the same, but better.
As we’ve previously seen, the original Gonta the Diver game, better known as Lady Killer in the west, was the work of Mitchell Corporation in 1993. Gonta the Diver II, meanwhile, came out two years later in 1995. This was still before Mitchell’s most well-known title Puzz Loop, which appeared in 1998, but this time around appears to be the work of Mitchell themselves rather than the licensed work of “Yanyaka” — the identity of whom is still something of a mystery.
When you first start playing Gonta the Diver II, you might not notice much different from the previous game. The basic mechanics are still the same, after all: the stage conceals a picture of a pretty lady, and in order to reveal said picture you need to “dive” in and out of the background in order to flip over its component tiles. Dive “into” the screen and you flip a tile; dive back “out” again and you flip the tile where you emerge. You cannot dive in or out of a tile that has already revealed the background underneath.
As you flip tiles, various power-ups will appear. Some of these allow you to flip an entire row, column or both at once, so should be used strategically in order to clear levels quickly and obtain a large time bonus. Coins are simply worth points, with their value escalating if you collect several in quick succession. A new “flame” power-up shoots out fire in four diagonal directions from the next place you dive, acting as barriers that will kill enemies (and yourself if you’re not careful). And flippers and oxygen tanks allow you to move more quickly and remain “underwater” for longer respectively.
As with Lady Killer, your efforts to complete each stage are hindered by various types of enemies, usually loosely themed around the nationality of the lady you are currently “wooing”. In a stage based around a geisha character, for example, the enemies take the form of little karate men who charge across the stage; in another stage based around French office ladies, you’re set upon by men in suits with silly hats.
Gonta the Diver II’s main distinguishing factor over its predecessor is that it introduces a host of new stage gimmicks rather than simply making the enemies more challenging with each level. These are gradually introduced at a good rate and, despite not being explicitly explained by the game, are intuitive enough to figure out.
The first you’ll likely encounter is a block that is screwed down. In order to clear this, you need to dive into all the tiles around it to unscrew the screws, then dive into the tile that is revealed when the block has been removed. Elsewhere, you’ll come across icy stages, moving blocks, catapult blocks which fling you against a wall and stun you for a few seconds and a variety of other hazards. These add a ton more variety and interest to the game, and keep the whole thing feeling like a continuous process of discovery.
It also makes the game feel a lot better balanced, because the gradual introduction of new hazards means that there’s no need for the game to escalate the number and ferocity of the enemies who are harassing you. At no point does the gameplay start to feel unmanageable in that distinctly “arcade game” sort of way; while Gonta the Diver II of course wants to part you from your pocket change as much as possible, it doesn’t feel nearly as cynical in this regard as many other arcade titles I could name — particularly in the lewd end of the market.
There’s a good feeling of progression, and the background art is a lot more varied, too; rather than each lady having just one pose in various states of undress, each stage now features several unique poses, some of which are animated. Some stages even play around with the idea of how the background works; the aforementioned “French office ladies” stage is set in an elevator, and depending on your timing, you’ll get a glimpse of whoever is on each “floor” when you clear the stage completely.
The bonus games feel more like they have a point to them than in Lady Killer, too; in Gonta the Diver II, every few stages you’re presented with the opportunity to play a game of Pairs, a sliding block puzzle or a number pattern recognition puzzle. Clear this perfectly and you get a score bonus, clear it to a specified standard and you’ll get a new picture to enjoy, fail to clear it and you get nothing extra. It makes a lot more sense, unlike the seemingly pointless bonus stages in the original.
Sadly, the joystick-waggling quasi-orgasmic scenes from the original game are no longer present in this one, making it significantly less likely you’ll have to explain what you were doing to anyone who happened to be passing by your room while you were playing, but we can’t have everything, I guess. This tragic loss aside, Gonta the Diver II is a significant and noticeable improvement over its predecessor; the first game is still worth playing, for sure, but this is better in almost every regard.
So what are you waiting for? A bevy of international beauties await. Enjoy!
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