EDITOR'S NOTE:
We are not the masters of The NewZealand Story. Merely the apprentices. As such, we must give a gigantic shout-out to Victor Epitropou, who wrote the definitive guide to The NewZealand Story in times gone by. This was our starting point, and thus many of the arcane secrets of the game were revealed to us by his guide. We thank you, Victor, for making any of this (and our multiple 1CCs of the game) possible. Give us a bell if you ever see this, yeah?

The NewZealand Story is, by a wide margin, my favourite Taito game. Ever.

No, really.

If you know me in any capacity, be it Twitter, this website, or real life, then you poor soul! Also, if you are any of those things, you'll know I love The NewZealand Story. A lot. Is it a game I've got a little nostalgia for? Maybe, maybe- one of the first games I remember playing was the ZX Spectrum port of it, after all, and much like Bubble Symphony, I met some of my earliest internet friends through the game (and Taito games in general). I first learned how to play properly from Victor Epitropou's guide to the game, and from there I just kept playing the game until I got to the point where I can reliably clear it in one credit. It's not all rose-tinted glasses though, as we never entrust our opinions to nostalgia. Succumbing to the temptation to just remembering a game being good is the exact opposite of what this site is about! We analyse, to inform and entertain! So let it be clear from the off that this game is an eternal favourite of ours based entirely on merit, not on fond memories. Hopefully, by the end of this exhaustive set of pages, you'll at least see where we're coming from with this one.



Released in 1988 and apparently inspired by both a trip to New Zealand taken by one of the designers (according to C&VG) and the Taito arcade game Crazy Balloon (according to JP Wikipedia- yeah, we know), The NewZealand Story is a cute, cuddly, and pretty difficult platformer set in, well, New Zealand (the game's title has it all as one word, so we're going to stick with that when talking about the game), dedicated to all maze game fans as a message on the title screen states. Azarashi the Leopard Seal has raided a zoo on the North Island! He's kidnapped 21 of the zoo's kiwis, intending to sell them to make a profit, but Tiki, the game's hero, manages to escape his clutches. Armed with only a bow and arrow to start, Tiki sets off on a 20-round journey across both the North and South islands, from Auckland to Mt. Cook, to save all of his fellow kiwis including his girlfriend, Phee-Phee. The adventure ahead is dangerous, with all sorts of animals under Azarashi's orders ready to have Tiki for dinner, as well as spikes, lava, waterways, bullet-firing statues, even the Devil himself and the concept of everlasting slumber in Heaven (no, really), and each round is akin to a maze, often quite sprawling and large... But Tiki has guts and determination on his side, as long as you do.

Let's start with the very basics, then. You need to get Tiki from the start of each round to the caged kiwi at the end, and that's not necessarily a straight line. At the start of each round and each life, Tiki's just got his standard bow and arrow to fire at enemies, and a jump, which can make it through most blocks as long as Tiki can reach a foothold jumping through, a bit like Bubble Bobble. There's no momentum or running here, so Tiki only has the one speed, and he doesn't have as much control over his jump distance as, say, Mario, but you can still adjust it mid-jump (and, if you fall a certain distance, you can tap the Jump button to flap your wings which can give you a little boost... Or fly, if you really wanna Track & Field it). One of the more critical skills, especially later in the game, is Tiki's ability to 'queue up' his jumps- let go of the button when you've reached the height you want, then hold the button again and Tiki will automatically jump when he hits the ground. Sounds odd, but it can really help in quick escapes. He can also swim, if he has to, with a limited oxygen gauge (and, when on the water's surface, he can spit water to take out foes and replenish his oxygen faster) but that's it.



That's enough to deal with most enemies, even if Tiki can only take one hit, but navigating the mazes would be tricky without some way to reliably fly, so just hitch a ride- steal an enemy vehicle! While some enemies are land-based, some ride around in bizarre contraptions such as teddy bear heads, inflatable ducks or even zepplins, all with their own stats and foibles,and these can be commandeered by Tiki if you take the enemy out, by hook or by crook. Mastery of these different vehicles is an essential part of success in this game, as is learning all about your foes. Enemies are a little unusual in this game in a few ways. For a start, the vast majority of them are safe for Tiki to touch, and only spikey enemies kill him outright- otherwise, they have to use weapons to defeat Tiki. Also, they're either on the map already, or spawn from magical doors once Tiki hits a trigger point. For the most part, these trigger points are in fairly sensible spots, with only a few exceptions (and that's only on the harder difficulty settings where safe-to-touch enemies are replaced with spikey ones). So, before we begin, we'll have to have a look at all these enemies and their vehicles, and power-ups that can help Tiki out too.



First, let's have a look at our rogue's gallery now, shall we? Now, uh, when it comes to names, we had to improvise. There is an incomplete list of official enemy names in the Mega Drive port's manual, but we can't translate it. Our names, then, are a mix of ones given by the Epitropou guide and ones we made up. We might've snuck in one or two little jokes and tributes among them, mind...


Hermit Crab
Safe to touch
Fires destructible spikes

Missile Crab
Safe to touch
Fires indestructible missiles

Toy Soldier
Safe to touch
Fires boomerangs

Rippit
Safe to touch
Fires a spreadshot of spikes


Frankie
Deadly to touch
Can jump and multiply itself

Germ
Deadly to touch
Can multiply itself

Mr. Wakelin
Safe to touch
Spawns random enemies with magic

B. B. Hoofer
Safe to touch
Fires a spread of 0, 4 or 8 bullets


Grim Bat
Safe to touch
Drops indestructible spikes
Does not drop items!

Winged Cat
Safe to touch...
Except when it scratches the air
Flies straight or at angles

Stone Hands
Safe to touch
Will try to drag your vehicle down
Takes multiple hits

Bob
Safe to touch
Fires small arrows

Spearman
Safe to touch
Fires spears upwards

Flying Frankie
Deadly to touch
No projectiles

Penguin
Safe to touch
Throws stones atimed at Tiki



Cool Bob
Safe to touch
Fires large arrows

Fire Lizard
Safe to touch
Spits flame breath

Pumpko
Safe to touch
Drops bombs from above


Axe Cat
Safe to touch
Throws axes in an arc

Mr. Needlemouse
Deadly to touch
Will pursue Tiki and outflank him

Screamer
Safe to touch
Its vehicle is more dangerous


Astronaut
Safe to touch
Equipped with a laser beam

Invader
Safe to touch
Equipped with homing missiles

Wakelin's Zeppelin
Safe to touch
Spawns random enemies with magic


Time-Up Devil
Appears after the 'Hurry Up!' warning
Kills on touch, cannot be defeated
If you evade it, it gets faster and more will appear over time

That's not even including the underwater enemies who never spawn in- we'll deal with them as we see 'em.



And here's a more exhaustive look at the vehicles Tiki can steal with their stats.

(Vehicles with a durability of Special Weapon can only be destroyed by Lasers, Bombs, Fireballs and homing Missiles).


Teddy Bear Head
Speed: Normal
Durability: 1 hit
Can ride on top only


Duck
Speed: Fast
Durability: 1 hit
Can ride on top only


Hot Ait Balloon
Speed: Normal
Durability: 1 hit
Can ride on top only
You respawn in this in some areas

Power Balloon
Speed: Normal
Durability: 5 hits
Can ride on top or hang from below




Metal Balloon
Speed: Slow
Durability: Special Weapon
Can ride on top or hang from below


String Balloon
Speed: Normal
Durability: 1 hit
Can ride on top or hang from below


The Colonel
Speed: Slow
Durability: Special Weapon
Can ride on top only
Drags 4 spikeballs



Laser UFO
Speed: Very Fast
Durability: Special Weapon
Can ride on top only
Control with just the stick!
Equipped with a laser beam

Missile UFO
Speed: Very Fast
Durability: Special Weapon
Can ride on top only
Control with just the stick!
Equipped with homing missiles

Zeppelin
Speed: Normal
Durability: 5 hits
Can ride on top only







Being a Taito game, the other thing Tiki has in his favour is a gigantic cache of pick-ups and power-ups. Not as many dotted around each round, mind you, save for hidden letters spelling EXTEND for an extra life much like Bubble Bobble (this time, collecting 9 of the same one gives you an extra life too), but being hoarded by enemies. Similar to Rainbow Islands, enemies drop items when defeated which run on a pre-determined cycle. The first 7 enemies drop fruits, then the 8th enemy will drop a special item (the first one of any new game will always be a Bomb), and this cycle continues until it loops back to the Bomb. It seems that every 'loop' contains, at the absolute minimum, the four different weapon types as discussed below, so you'll always be able to grab a new weapon eventually, but there's quite a few different patterns that we haven't been fully able to figure out just yet. Still, the main thing is to keep an eye out for the Grapes and Watermelon items, as it means a special item will drop very shortly. So, in no particular order, here they all are:


Bomb
Throw explosive bombs in an arc


Laser Gun
Fire laser beams that penetrate walls
& enemies, can destroy all vehicles

Fire Staff
Fire flame balls that bounce around
and can destroy all vehicles

Bow & Arrow
Gives you back your default
Bow & Arrow weapon

Spring
Makes vehicles lighter, letting
you push them around more easily

Clock
Stops all enemy movement for
a few seconds

Turbo
Speeds Tiki & vehicles up


Joystick
The next vehicle you use will
move with just the directions

Book of Earthquakes
Destroys everything on screen,
even your current vehicle!

EXTEND Letter
Collect all letters for
an extra life

Potion
Tiki is temporarily invincible
Only appears in later item loops!

Mirror
Teleports Tiki to the cage
Only appears in later item loops!






Green Apple
2000 points


Kiwi Fruit
8000 points for cannibalism
when you think about it








Now, oh boy, do we have some housekeeping to do before we begin, as there are four distinct revisions of the arcade version of the game. Our full playthrough will be through what's generally considered the 'original' level set in MAME under the name 'Japan, old version' (and the filename tnzsjo), as this is the one that the majority of the home ports are based on (although not all of them, as we'll see!) and we'll have details on the other sets later (if you're lazy, we made a video with details on the level set differences a while ago). We'll be detailing all the Warp locations in our playthrough, courtesy of the Epitropou guide, but whether you take them is up to you, as you'll be teleported to the relevant page if you choose to warp. Finally... While most of the time we create these playthroughs on whatever the default difficulty setting is, we couldn't let this stand for The NewZealand Story, so this was all done on the Hard setting. This mostly affects enemy aggressiveness and sometimes their numbers, but the main difference is that some enemy spawns- innocuous ones like Bobs- are replaced with much fiercer enemies, in particular Mr. Needlemouse, a much trickier and deadlier foe who does not appear on easier difficulties! In particular, they have their moment to shine in Round 3-4, so look forward to that!

Normally we'd just link to the start of the playthrough and do our normal cry of playing this game together, but considering that the Extended Play section is fairly important this time, we've decided to include links to the extra parts. Specifically, a look at the different arcade revisions of the game, for there are many of them, and a cursory examination of the many, many home ports of the game. We hope that this playthrough, as well as the extra stuff, will help give you a bit of insight into why we love this game so much. So, let's say it together...

Let's play The NewZealand Story!

Click the middle title screen below to start.


Alternate arcade revisions


Begin the Journey


Home ports