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Retro Fire

Written: 8.5.15
Acquired: 7.7.13
Status: Cart only
Price: $32

Pub: J-WingApril '96
Dev: Dynamite8 MEGS

I fell completely in love with EARTHBOUND after playing it for the first time back in November 2012. It was one of the best RPGs that I ever played. I wanted more, so I searched online for similar titles and to my pleasant surprise, I found out there was one right on my favorite, the SNES. It was called Adventures of Hourai High (an obscure Japanese only RPG that was a mix of Earthbound and Final Fantasy V). Say no more. Take my money! Adventures of Hourai High is one wacky, kooky RPG!
School's back. Time to join clubs, make friends and break hearts


                                       It's got Earthbound's CRAZY sense of humor and bizarre enemies

And it has Final Fantasy V's job system; you can join many clubs

                                       FAST TIMES AT HOURAI HIGH: MEMORIES OF MY SENIOR YEAR

Ah, HIGH SCHOOL. Who does not harbor memories (good or bad) of those old days?  From getting your driver's license to your first job... to perhaps even your first girlfriend [or boyfriend -Ed.], those were the days of our youth. We formed friendships and learned life lessons. Also, we learned a little bit more about who we were becoming. It was our formative years. Senior Prom, Grad Night, crappy group projects, the Senior Prank, cliques and clubs, crushes, appalling school lunches, crappy teachers (with some gems too of course) and a whole lot of posturing to be "cool" and hip, especially with the "in-crowd." High school now feels like ancient history to me, and while I feel like college was a lot more important, it's impossible to deny that high school has its place too. I was sort of a regular kid in high school. I wasn't part of the "cool kids" group, but I wasn't one of the dweebs that got bullied, either. I was good old nice Steve, the guy the girls liked (as their friend only, of course) and I hung out with other regular Joes who were right in the middle of the pecking order, so to speak. We had a good time, forged some good memories but when all was said and done, we sailed out into the sunset, never looking back sans the odd nostalgic moment here and there

In terms of pecking order, I hit my peak during senior year. I started branching out from my friends, taking classes that interested me (such as creative writing and acting) which helped to develop my confidence. I also landed my first job at the local Blockbuster, and my employee perk of being able to get *5* free movies a week suddenly made little ole me a man in demand. Many nights I would see a lot of my cute senior classmates stroll in and I would take advantage of the opportunity by chatting them up as I rung them up. My biggest crush was easily Judy. She was like the prom queen of our school. The girl was SMOKING HOT. I always felt like we shared a great rapport. Somehow, Lady Luck had it that we sat next to each other in the couple classes we shared together. I remember calling her on many nights and we'd exchange class notes and then just talk about random topics for a little bit. This was back in the day when cell phones had yet to explode in popularity, so I had Judy's house number. I wished I had her email so I could directly connect with her, as sometimes it felt a little awkward to get to her through her mom or dad. Unfortunately she was dating a jock and so I was left daydreaming

Yearbooks were passed out about a week before we would make our way across the grand stage. I remember that last week of my senior year fondly. Passing your yearbook around, signing them for your buds and everyone (most everyone) feeling excited about the future. Many felt as though we had the world at the tip of our fingers. That youthful optimism that only comes when you're 17 almost ready to graduate and head off to college. I had never told Judy how much I enjoyed our friendship. I decided I would tell her in my yearbook signing. We exchanged yearbooks at lunch and I went to work. I hoped she'd somehow include her email in my yearbook. Finally, we exchanged again and I walked home anxious to read what she had wrote. I'll never forget the feeling of butterflies soaring in the pit of my stomach when I read over Judy's message

I pumped my fist when she gave me her email. Good times, Judy.
AND GAWD DAMN.... remember when most everyone had AOL?!

                                                          A TIMEWALK TRIBUTE AND EULOGY

Timewalk video games was a famous little fan company within the retro gaming community. They once sold beautiful repro copies and some of them even had gorgeous boxes and manuals. Before they closed shop in early 2014 I was fortunate enough to buy the boxes/manuals of GUNMAN'S PROOF and Adventures of Hourai High and man was I glad I did. I always meant to buy more of their SNES box/manual sets but sadly, I never got around to buy more before they unexpectedly closed. Today, Timewalk boxes go for a pretty penny on eBay as they're now officially a limited, finite quality. The only boxes of these that exist are from those who had bought it. Timewalk no longer produces these, so there's only so much to go around, hence the high prices whenever one does pop up on eBay. Although I wish I had more, I'm glad I got two before Timewalk rode off into the sunset

Timewalk's products are amazing but the manual to Adventures of Hourai High deserves a special shout-out. Designed by member JM, this 44-page booklet was written in composition notebook form. It's written from the perspective of the female protagonist. Recall that you can play as either a male or female. It makes sense that they chose to write the manual from a female perspective since high school girls are more prone to journaling. There are no how-to instructions in the diary. Instead, it's a full-blown account of her times at Hourai High from the moment she arrives, April 1st, to nearly a year later on March 25th. The entries are written from a 16 year old female's point of view and let me just say all of the dairy entries are downright emo. It totally fits and I commend JM for the incredible effort. Even more impressive, JM used actual facts from the game

A very creative and impressive manual, it was also... a bit creepy

                                       There's even a touch of the occult at Hourai High. Heebie-jeebies!


                                       "Richard Vernon" from the 1985 classic, THE BREAKFAST CLUB

And good luck, Steve. I have a feeling YOU'RE GONNA NEED IT!


                                       You can play as either a boy or a girl. Now how awesome is that?

I'd watch your back if I were you. Roku's the type to hold grudges

                                       [Is that what this is?  Hm, I notice you do a lot of "research" -Ed.]

The contemporary setting helps differentiate it from fantasy RPGs

                                       You're given instant access once you hit certain parts of the map

Even though it was an accident, Roku is NOT the forgiving type...

No amount of apologizing can stop the vengeful rage-filled Roku

                                        And look, it even apes Earthbound's font. A lovely touch indeed

Meet Daichi, your fellow comrade. At times he's a little TOO loyal

Always nice to see an African American character in a SNES title

                                       AND I THINK I WILL CALL IT.... HMM, AH YES, WEIRD SCIENCE!

I love the dialogue in this game. It creates a wonderful experience

                                       Seriously?!  Dude, we just fought a bunch of enemies in a sewer!

UM NO, nope... I h-haven't s-seen a-any gh-ghosts around here...

                                       [Lemme guess. It was good ol' RESEARCH again wasn't it?  -Ed.]

                                       What kind of crazy ass high school allows GUNS AND KNIVES!?!

DA HELL?!  I said CRIPES. Jessica Christmas. Just coz I'm black!

                                       Take this to heart as you do NOT want to backtrack... TRUST ME

Ghosts, robots, crazy bitches. Hourai High School has got it all...

Shin, I would recommend that you DON'T see that barber again...

                                       What other SNES RPG features an African American? Isaac FTW

[No worries, Chihaya. You are not the first lady to say that... -Ed.]

                                       So girls can go to boys' dorm but not vice versa?  Oh it's Hinako

It's kinda like a limited time sale: once it's gone, it's gone forever

PENGUIN COSTUMES?!!  OK, *NOW* I have officially seen it all...

Haru: Hey Hinako. We're tryin' to attract 'em, not scare 'em away!

Poor Hinako. They crap on her tons yet she remains a great sport

                                        "Jeez, way to put me on the spot. Well, lemme think about it..."

What other SNES RPG celebrates your birthday eh?  I feel special

                                        You automatically jump in stats when it's your birthday. SWEET

"Stop coming into my room. IT WAS ONLY ONE NIGHT Hinako!"

                                       Wait, that BETTER NOT BE the same BIOTCH who threw me out!!

Like I said earlier, sometimes Daichi's a little bit too... um... loyal

                                       Great idea!  Let's split up like in a horror movie, and get KILLED!

                                        Miss Adachi is your homeroom teacher. She is quite the looker!

Y'know the saying: somewhere there's the world's worst doctor...

                                        WHO IS THAT CREEPY BROAD WATCHING US SLEEP, HUH?!?

Wow, things got DEMONIC real fast up in this sumbitch didn't it?

Save this unkempt, lovable, little savage and he'll join your team

                                       If you thought Mitsurin was an odd character, check out this guy!

He has a name... and he also talks. OK now I've TRULY seen it all

                                        There are just no words to describe this bizarre scene. No words

                                        Love finding dungeon keys in RPGs. It's the feeling of closing in

What evil lies behind this door?  You'll have to play it to find out

                                       The jungle chapter reminded me a bit of this from EARTHBOUND

The jungle is probably my favorite part in the game. I love how Hourai High uses a modern backdrop but by traveling to places such as this wild jungle, it takes on a more dangerous setting. It's like how Earthbound used the suburbs to start with but also later threw in exotic locales to keep the experience fresh as well as exciting each step of the journey. Hourai High adopts a similar gimmick, and it works well. Perhaps working best in the jungle where you'll encounter all sorts of untamed savages ready to devour your party whole. Climbing the vines reminds me of the rope in Poo's village (Earthbound). This game finds a way to remind me of Earthbound whenever it can, and that's no complaint. I enjoyed all chapters of HOURAI HIGH but I do like the jungle one the most because it might possibly capture what the FIELD TRIP FROM HELL would be like. Good times

This game's sense of humor is sure to make you smile and laugh

                                        New amusingly strict rules are declared every so often. Madness

I know we've bonded, especially on that Africa trip, but come on!

There goes Roku again; the one ya fell on and put in the hospital

Ah, that robot looks an awful like the one from BREATH OF FIRE

                                       As the game goes on, the new rules get even crazier and crazier!

Poor Daichi and his weak bladder. The kid is so freakin' screwed

                                       "AH SORRY!  SOMETIMES I TAKE THINGS VERY LITERALLY..."

In terms of odd... ONLY Earthbound comes close to touching this


                                       HELL YEAH, Hourai High shows that you can stick it to the man!

                                       Alright, let's all calm down now. You come on a little strong, pal

Simply no words...

                                        Light-colored text affords you a glimpse into people's real mind

Ugh, points for trying. You don't leave without getting an answer!

                                       Merry Christmas to you too, SANTA. Wait, is that Scotch I smell?

There are many Santa workers; you have to suss out the right one

                                       I love how she loses her sanity more day by day, week by week...

                                       SECRET OF MANA... a rather stellar Super Nintendo action RPG!

This is NOT how you treat a starfish!  It is extremely unbecoming!

                                       YOU stay at Hourai High for 8 months and see what it does to ya!


                                       Ninjas attacking Santa on Christmas night?!  Only HOURAI HIGH

J/K!  You know the drill. Click like, comment, subscribe, donate!

                                       WHAT!?!  No, he doesn't. I mean, no, we've never.... YOU KNOW!

Each month (chapter) ends with an interesting newspaper article

                                       On second thought, being with you kids... make that any second!

Who knows what strange beasts we'll fight in these deadly caves?

Looks serious. Could be an all-out student revolt!  [Or lunch -Ed.]

                                       [Looks like STEVE finally did something right for a change -Ed.]

STEVE: "Uhhhh, guys... I don't have a good feeling about this..."

I love the game's art style. It's simple, yet LOADED with character

                                       Haru: There is a damn good reason why we call you HIGH-nako...

[OOPS. But don't worry, only like 6 people read this website -Ed.]

                                                             SIDEWAY STORIES AT HOURAI HIGH

Growing up, one of the very best things about elementary school was receiving the latest book order. Remember circling all the book titles you wanted, getting your parents to buy most of 'em (it was a much easier sales pitch than a video game, being far cheaper and educational) and then best of all, that magical morning you come into the classroom and see a stack of brand new books sitting atop your desk!  Sure, it might not have been as wondrous as getting a video game on Christmas morning, but then again, as a kid what was? Seeing new books on your desk was still pretty damn cool. And while my love for the Goosebumps series has been well documented, one of my absolute favorites was easily Sideway Stories From Wayside School. It told the wacky tales of a zany school that was constructed 30 stories high! Featuring an evil teacher, Mrs. Gorf, each chapter highlighted a different student and the stories were beyond bizarre. My favorite was the chapter entitled Stephen. Because it had my name (well, close enough) AND it was based on my favorite holiday as a kid: Halloween. Stephen also gets the best of Mrs. Gorf. I remember living vicariously through him. It was a reminder even a little brave kid could stand up to a big mean adult

As a kid I believed that Louis Sachar wrote this chapter for me...

                                       Subsequent inferior sequels followed and uh, 'jumped the shark'


It's generally agreed upon that the game is loaded with humor and charm. People like how crazy it is, yet at the same time a few key flaws keep it from being a "great" game. The biggest flaw perhaps is the fact that equipping better armor and weapons seem to make NO difference at all. How Dynamite missed this is unknown, but this was the only game they ever developed, so take that for what it is worth. Now you may think oh no, then this game has to be super hard right?  Wrong. The game is actually very easy, even with this flaw. Your characters do level up, so their strength does increase, and that helps. You just cannot increase your strength by equipping a stronger weapon, so it makes armor and weapon buying useless, which is a shame as that's part of the fun. So even though you can earn a variety of cool skills from all the various clubs you'll join, it really doesn't make a dent in the gameplay much in the end, as battles are so easy the only strategy consists of spamming the attack button (or use auto battle). The next flaw is there exist some game crashing bugs that can really put a damper on your experience. I'll highlight some below. Fortunately, on my playthrough, I avoided the bugs and thus was able to see the game through without one crash. Finally, the enemy encounter rate is ridiculously high. Sometimes you can't take 4 steps it seems without a random battle occurring. Thus, it can drag the game down a bit

                                       It's a shame that buying new weapons and armor is not necessary

Use Hinako's GUST skill at your own discretion. I've never tried it

                                       I've read that the game crashes if you leave and try to come back

You get bombarded by bad guys constantly. It's a little ridiculous

                                       And you have to serve detention for an HOUR -- OK just kidding!

So I just spent a good chunk of time criticizing this game. Like I said, there are some flaws that one just cannot overlook. Having said that, now let's talk about the positives, because this game does bring a lot to the table. Visually, it's got a very clean and unique look. The characters look great, enemies and the various locales also have a great deal of detail. I love the demonic symbol; it looks so badass. The music is surprisingly well done for a company who only ever made one game. Lots of catchy tunes that range from frenetic and up-beat to soothing and relaxing, almost as if there's a cool breeze flowing through the room. There are many friends to make, many playable characters and many different clubs you can join to earn a myriad of offensive and defensive skills. You can partake in up to 3 clubs at once and you are free to switch out
The fascinating high school atmosphere help makes it so unique

                                       Not to mention the INSANE amount of characters you can recruit

You also earn Friend Points after a fight. Distribute it as you wish.
After maxing out one's FP, that character becomes your best bud.
You then unlock certain special skills and moves. Pretty neat eh?

                                       If you fancy yourself an RPG fanatic, Hourai High is worth visiting


Adventures of Hourai High will take you back to high school but it's also FAR beyond anything anyone ever experienced in high school. Yes, you'll make buddies (even to varying degrees), join clubs and learn different skills, and even forge a few enemies but if it stopped there it'd be boring. Here, you'll go on the wild adventure of a lifetime. Everywhere from rancid decrepit sewers to savage perilous jungles to spooky demonic temples. Along the journey there's plenty of charm thanks in large part to its amusing dialogue and all the zany characters who inhabit its kooky world. It's like high school, only taken to the very extreme, with a very peculiar Japanese touch that ONLY the Japanese can offer. If that sounds like a good time to you, I'm sure you will enjoy it, warts and all, like I have!

While it fails to make Honor Roll, it wins "Most Likely To Charm"

Adventures of Hourai High exudes charm and humor in spades. And that is the BEST quality it has going for it. Where it falls short in execution, it excels in charming the pants off ya. All the strange characters that you meet, the diverse locales you'll travel to and all the weird enemies you battle, not to mention the amusing dialogue, makes you press on in spite of its flaws. It is one of the most endearing video games I've ever experienced. If you're willing to look beyond the rough edges (high enemy encounter rate and broken weapon system), there's a wonderful adventure lying underneath. This game made me smile constantly. It's loaded with personality and heart. It's too bad Dynamite didn't iron out the kinks because this could have been a real gem. Still, warts and all, it is one of those rare games where in spite of its glaring flaws, something about it compels you forward and you're glad when all is said and done that you did. Who knew an RPG based around high school teenage life could be so addicting? If you can bear its flaws, this is one high school worth visiting

Graphics: 7.5
Sound: 8.5
Gameplay: 7
Longevity: 7

Overall: 7.5

Bronze Award

[Touché -Ed.]

                                       See you crazy ass bastards for the 20 YEAR REUNION next year...

It took me 30 hours to beat Adventures of Hourai High. I will definitely play through it a second time at some point down the road. And I'll use the female protagonist next time. I'd like to thank the translating crew over at Aeon Genesis, who made this fan translation possible. Thanks a lot!

For those who plan to embark to Utsuho Island and experience all of Hourai High's wackiness for yourself, I highly recommend reading through this glitch thread here first. Trust me, it helps!

Also, check out HG101's short and sweet write-up of Hourai High here!