Jaleco, thought to be shut down in January 2009 before curiously rising from the grave in March, are a weird, weird little company. Unlike the similar 'so bad it's awesome' game company Data East (who I have a deep respect for, mostly because their games have this very inexplicable tragic charm to them that also make them super fun) no release from Jaleco has been particularly ground-breaking. That sounds really harsh, but... Ah, I dunno, with a handful of exceptions here and there (like Rushing Beat Shura, Avenging Spirit and Saint Dragon) I just feel that the better Jaleco games are the smaller, tighter ones- nothing 'big' like 64th Street, but more simple affairs. Probably the best example of this kind of thing is Rodland- it's a single-screen platformer with cutesy visuals, simple mechanics and co-op shenanigans. Another example is Ninja JaJaMaru-Kun, which is sort-of like Ghouls n' Ghosts meets Bubble Bobble meets ninjas. (Alas, City Connection was developed by Hect, so it doesn;t count!) Today, though, we're looking at a game so obscure, the title isn't even in English! Always a good sign!

Momoko 120%, as I understand it, is the story of, uh, Momoko, a poor girl with a terrible curse; every single building she enters bursts into flames for no apparent reason, and also gets infested with aliens. Her only option is to use what I can only assume is an honest-to-goodness handgun to shoot the little piss-weasels out of the way and make her escape via her personal blimp on the roof of said building, after which she'll magically age a few years, walk into another building, and the cycle repeats endlessly.

Just... Stick with me on this.

While Momoko 120% is just as insane as it sounds, there's actually a surprisingly solid game behind it all. I like to adopt the policy of giving any game a chance, regardless of how stupid I feel when I'm playing it (see also: Gunbird, Freak Out) and, I'll be honest, I tried this one out entirely on the stupid name and premise. As we've seen before, this approach doesn't always work but for once, it paid off, introducing me to a charming little game that's actually pretty merciless and unrepentant in its quest for punishing you, the player. It seems to be rather overlooked, though, and as far as I'm aware, what you're about to read is the only thing that could count as a guide for this game.

As I said, you play as Momoko, and your objective on each stage is to get out of the building by getting up to the roof, where your escape blimp is waiting for you. Her actions are pretty limited, but in addition to walking, jumping, ducking and firing her pistol, she can go through doors by tapping Up to take a short-cut, and she can use a few contraptions to get across gaps or up to the next floor- she can grab on to monkey-bars (although she can't fire when she's hanging on), and she can use escalators (press Up on the mat nearby to use one), ladders (tap Up to climb) and trampolines (Er, jump on 'em and hold the button down) to make her way to the top. The jumping controls, at first, feel a little weird, because they're very floaty- Momoko leaps up, hovers for a second, then falls back to the ground, all very slowly. Fortunately, the game doesn't demand too much platforming prowess until the later stages, but it takes a couple of tries to get used to it.

There are two things getting in the way of our heroine, however. First off, each stage has a time limit in the form of the fire raging below you; it'll slowly creep up, taking the entire building with it. There's a warning siren that plays if it's getting too close to you, and if it goes over Momoko's head, she'll burn to a crisp and you'll lose a life. You can't buy any more time for yourself, although dying sends the flames back a little. The only sure-fire way to avoid it is to keep moving upwards as fast as you can, using whatever means necessary to make it to the roof.

The other threat comes in the form of weird aliens, that can kill Momoko with a single touch. They can be divided into different types...

Flying Aliens
These enemies fly in from either side and try to ram into Momoko. Each level has its own type of Flying Alien, and aside from the aesthetic differences, they're pretty much the same. A lot of the time, you can simply duck to avoid these enemies, although on later levels, they'll start to fly rather erratically, and so they have to be shot down. 100 points each.

Lonesome Alien
Although this could technically count as a Flying Alien, its characteristics are slightly different, and it's worth more points. There seem to be two different versions of this alien- one of them moves from the ceiling down to the floor, which means they can't be dodged too easily, and need to be killed. The other type starts at the ceiling, and creeps down slowly- this is the more dangerous version, as it can kill you where you can't fire at it! 400 points.

Floating Alien
Like the Flying Aliens, these move in from either side to try and bump into you. However, they move very slowly, bobbing up and down, and are such huge targets that you'll probably gun them down before they even become a threat. 500 points.

Blue Drip Aliens
The Blue Drip Aliens hang around on the ceiling of whatever floor you're on, and they'll fall down when you get close. Fortunately, you can trigger them within a relatively safe distance, so they're very easy to avoid. 300 points.

Pink Drip Aliens
The Pink Drip Aliens are very different from their blue counterparts- they'll fall from the top of the screen and drip between each floor, until they fall off the screen entirely. They can't drip between floors that quickly, so you should usually be able to avoid them... As long as you know they're there! 1000 points.

Midget Aliens
These guys only appear on Stage 6, and end the stage instantly should you touch them. They can't be killed, so there's no points on offer.

Fire Aliens
One of two aliens to appear on every stage in the game, the Fire Aliens act a lot like the first version of the Lonesome Aliens- they'll move up and down, although they do so in a strange wavy pattern. However, they'll also fling fireballs at you on the later levels, and so they're the only aliens with a projectile attack. The fireball is tough to avoid, so take these guys out as quickly as you can. 500 points.

Power-Up Aliens
The only alien to take more than one bullet to kill, the Power-Up Alien also appears on every stage, and sits perfectly still. Whenever you attack it, it'll launch out tiny little pink aliens that crawl along the floor- they can only be shot when you're ducking, and they're worth 100 points each. Pump enough bullets into the Power-Up Alien (about 20, give or take) and it'll explode, leaving a Power-Up Item which is worth 1000 points. Hence the name. Obviously. 1000 points.

Speaking of power-ups, there's 10 different power levels for Momoko's gun, including the standard weapon. They're mostly variations on the same thing, and the way they're distributed is bizarre- the most powerful weapon is, for whatever reason, not the final upgrade. Here they are, in order. Just so you know, each 'part' of a shot takes out one non-Power Up Alien, so all those double shots can take out 2 enemies. Also, Weapon Levels 9 and 10 are only available from Stage 4 onwards, for some reason.

Weapon Level 1 - Standard Shot
The starting weapon. Nothing special.

Weapon Level 4 - Double Stack Wave
2 waves vertically stacked, good range.

Weapon Level 7 - Laser
Goes through anything!! Hang on to this!

Weapon Level 2 - Double Wave
2 wide waves, fired one after another.

Weapon Level 5 - Double Shot
2 standard shots, fired one after another.

Weapon Level 8 - Rapid Wave
A single wave, but can be fired faster.

Weapon Level 3 - Rapid Shot
Standard shot, but can be fired faster.

Weapon Level 6 - Double Stack Shot
2 standard shots vertically stacked. Rubbish.

Weapon Level 9 - Rapid Double Wave
2 waves, fired one after another, rapid fire.

Weapon Level 10 - Rapid Double Stack Wave
What a mouthful! 2 waves vertically stacked, with rapid fire.

For what it's worth, the best weapons are Level 3 and Level 7- the Rapid Shot may not be as large as the Wave shots, but it's the fastest-firing weapon in the game, and the Laser will cut through anything. Hanging on to them without upgrading can seem impossible, seeing as you'll come across Power-Up Aliens constantly, but remember- you can either jump over the Power-Up item they leave, or scroll the Power-Up Alien off-screen, then go back, as they'll have disappeared.

The game lasts for 5 normal stages of increasing length, a special bonus level after the 5th stage, and then it loops on itself. As such, you can't continue, but you gain an extra life at 300000 points. A strange thing about this game, as you can see above, is that Momoko grows up after each stage. You start out at age 4, then grow up to 6, then 12, then 15, then 18, and then 20 for the final stage. This isn't just an aesthetic change either, as Momoko obviously gets taller each time she grows up... Which makes her a bigger target, and also slightly increases the time it takes to duck down and get back up again. It doesn't affect the game quite as drastically as you might think, but it's very strange, and I felt the need to mention it. Also: any excuse for more pictures for me to caption.

But enough talk. We have some burning buildings to escape from- let's play Momoko 120%!

Run! Jump! Shoot boldly! For such moves are the essence of Momoko!