The Game: You control a daredevil stunt climber on his trip up the side of the Nichubutsu building, using no ropes, no nets, and nothing but his hands and his feet. Obstacles such as a large stork with (apparently flaming) droppings and a large gorilla can cause you to plunge to your death several stories below, and even minor things such as annoyed building tenants dropping potted plants at you from above can have the same disastrous effect. When you reach the top – if you reach the top, that is – a helicopter lifts you away to your next challenge. (Nichibutsu, 2000)
Memories: Go for it in 3-D, baby! It’s a crime that this excessively cool update of Crazy Climber has never been released in the U.S., for it is possibly the best update of a classic game ever. Crazy Climber 2000 is Nichibutsu’s second swipe at dragging Crazy Climber into the modern age of video games, and it is by far the more successful.
The rules of the game are the same, the control scheme is the same (and this time, unlike Hyper Crazy Climber, you can use the dual analog joysticks instead of the D-pad and action buttons, though I’ve found that the D-pad combo works just fine). The look, however, is completely modern, and the 3-D look is more than just wallpaper. In Crazy Climber 2000, all faces of the building are game – and the buildings come in different shapes, including one which is almost round.
The music and graphics are engrossing, and you’re not just limited to the guy in the green jumpsuit – options allow you to customize your character’s clothing color, though I usually wind up going with green since that’s a fairly unique color in the game’s visual scheme. The sound effects are hilariously retro, right down to the climber screaming “Blaaaaaaahhhhh!” when something knocks him off the building.
All of the classic adversaries are there, from the King Kong-style gorilla to people throwing flowerpots at you to the pooping bird, but there are new twists – a round building introduces window-cleaners who will try to squish you with their rotating platforms, people who lean out of their windows and drop refrigerators in an effort to hit you (and the climber is considered crazy!?). Some levels also introduce a puzzle element as you have to figure out how to keep going upward despite obstacles like permanently-closed windows.
Still pining for a good game of classic Crazy Climber with the dual analog sticks? You’re in luck, for Crazy Climber 2000 includes the original game as “classic mode,” with the same custom options that were included with the game in Nichibutsu Arcade Classics. If there’s a single drawback to the game, it’s one that has only happened with hindsight: the animated intro sequence, which shows Crazy Climber scaling a skyscraper, also shows a helicopter racing toward the building being climbed, almost on a collision course…
…and then we zoom out to reveal that Crazy Climber is scaling one of the World Trade Center towers.
Overall, I have to rate this game very highly – it may be the best Playstation retro title yet, or at least tied with Q*Bert, in that you need no more knowledge than a decent grasp of the original game to play. I was able to reach the third building in Crazy Climber 2000 within 48 hours of playing it for the first time. Not saying that it wasn’t a challenge, and not saying that I didn’t die and then continue as many times as the game would let me, but it’s not overwhelmingly difficult. If you’re good at Crazy Climber, you’ll survive this game – you just need to think in 3-D for a change.