A graphical throwback for an evolution action-simulation! The visuals and creatures may be primitive, but the gameplay appears fresh!
Release Day: February 21, 2002
MSRP: 6800 yen
Memory Card Usage: 13 blocks
Object of the Game
Animal Leader is an oddly styled action game in which you must fight for survival while eating, and being eaten, in the animal world. In order to survive in the wild, you must become ever stronger. You enter the Animal World as a tiny, weak pig. In order to grow strong enough to eventually rival even the most powerful beasts, you must begin by devouring simple things like plants and bugs. However, lesser life forms alone will not grant you the strength to survive the harsh life of a pig. You must take the offensive and climb the food chain, or die trying.
Hunt, and Be Hunted!
In order to grow stronger, you must hunt and kill other animals and take from them their power by devouring their flesh. The mechanics of attacking and killing are to first target and tackle your prey and then devour them, finally killing them and getting piece(s) of flesh. Different animals have different colors each with distinctive characteristics and strength levels. The color of animal you kill corresponds with the color of flesh you receive.
Beware, however! You too are potential prey, and if attacked you also may suffer damage and have your flesh and life torn from you…
Color Absorption System
When you eat a defeated animal’s flesh, their color properties are absorbed into your body and various changes take place. Piecemeal body color change is the fundamental effect of color absorption. When all parts of your body have become the same color, your overall shape will change, allowing you to grow stronger and take on different characteristics. Even if the shade of color of your body parts differ, but are of the same color, transformation is possible.
Eat flesh and transform. For example, if you eat a single piece of flesh, that particular color is assumed into your body. If you eat more (the necessary amount depending on the number of parts that make up your body) you will transform into an entirely different animal.
As the diagram indicates, if a two-part animal (in this case purple) eats one piece of blue flesh, one “leg” part becomes blue.
Thus, if two blue parts are eaten, you transform into a blue animal with a new form.
Creatures of the Animal World
Flesh Colored Animals: These uniquely colored animals each differ according to hue. Each color has special characteristics, and their strength is indicated by their shade of color.
Plant Colored Animals: These are animals with heads and bodies made entirely of plants and grasses. They are timid, and pose little threat.
Bugs: Primitive creatures of very little strength, they pose no threat whatsoever. They are good fodder for fledgling hunters.
Wild Bugs: These are unique bugs in that their bodies are made up to some extent of special flesh items (see Bosses). Eating them returns some of their accumulated wildness to the world.
Attraction Bugs: These are bugs that are patterned with an attraction mark (a heart symbol). Gathering these increases your attraction level and desirability among the females.
Animals of the Wild
Along with various types of plants and lesser life forms, there are five general types of animals. The basic animal types Yellow, Red, Blue, Purple and Gray and within each animal type there are weak and strong animals alike, indicated as such by their particular shade of color. Each color group has three shades of animals, pale, medium and dark. Thus a pale yellow animal is much weaker than a boldly colored yellow animal.
Yellow animals possess strong tackling power, and when aided by a Bone item (see Bosses) their guard strength is the highest. They are the slowest of the five colors.
Red animals are excellent jumpers. They are the best at avoiding attack, and the fastest and most agile animals. However, they are also the weakest.
Blue animals can tackle from great distances, and are quick to charge up power before striking. They specialize in tackling from a distance, and use a lot of diagonal and horizontal movements.
Purple animals are great at backwards dashes, and their turnabout abilities are also excellent. Attacking and escaping, the hit and run, is their specialty.
Gray animals are the most powerful of the five colors. When aided by a Paw item, they are especially fast and agile. Both powerful and balanced, they are creatures to be feared.
There are many fierce rivals in Animal Leader such as area bosses, mini bosses, etc. Somewhere in each map are the bosses that control the area and possess special ‘flesh items’. These items are manifestations of wildness incarnate. Eating these items adds their traits to your body, granting you special power and ability. For example, the Paw item boosts acceleration and speed, while the Bone item increases guard strength and defense.
Also, these special flesh items are necessary for copulation (mating). In each map, the gate to the next map can be opened only if you have earned these special items by defeating the area boss. Then, before continuing to the next map, you are given a chance to mate.
Mate and Evolve
As you transform and become powerful, the number of parts that comprise your body will increase. Furthermore, when you produce offspring, you are able to develop your body even more. This process of making offspring is known as copulation. The female animals are found in the Mating Grounds, beyond the map gates between levels. If you have gathered many Attraction Bugs and your attraction level is high, you will find many female mating partners there and thus produce more offspring.
Animal Leader looks to be a very promising and inventive title. Stay tuned to Planet GameCube for impressions and reviews upon release!
Many thanks to Nintendo for their information, gathered from the official Doubutsu Banchou website and promotional flyer.