Pirate Ship Higemaru is a Z80-based action/puzzle arcade game directed by Tokuro Fujiwara and released in 1984. The game was initially only released in Japan. It was also released for the Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation as part of Capcom Generations 3, which was also never released outside of Japan. Twenty-one years after its initial release, gamers in the United States and Europe received the game as part of Capcom Classics Collection for the Playstation 2 and Xbox consoles.
The player controls a sailor by the name of Momotaru, who must use barrels to defeat the titular pirate crew. Momotaru has no attacks of his own. However, he has the ability to grab barrels, drums, large bags, and various other items which he can throw (either horizontally or vertically) across the screen. Any pirate who stands in the way of a barrel or other object will be hurled off the screen. Barrels that impact the walls of a stage or other barrels or objects will shatter and produce points, while other objects are invulnerable (but do not produce points).
Each successive enemy that is hit by a barrel will yield additional points once the barrel is destroyed. In addition, there are also various items hidden beneath barrels in each level which will give Momotaru bonus points. Every floor of the ship has a set number of pirates to be destroyed, as well as a single "Bow", a special pirate that regenerates each time it is defeated. Every fourth level in the game yields a bonus level in which the barrels are worth an increased number of points, and a group of enemies entirely made up of Bows (which do not regenerate in this case). With each successive floor, the speed and intelligence of the pirates increases.
For every sixteen barrels Momotaru destroys, he is rewarded with an item that grants invincibility for a limited amount of time, allowing him to defeat enemies by simply touching them. Momotaru's enemies do not have attacks, but a single touch from an enemy will cause him to lose a life. When Momotaro has no extra lives left, the game is over. The game has no ending, but following the sixteenth level, the enemy patterns will reset to level one. The layout of the barrels on the stages will continue to change, however.
- Momotaru (モモタルー): A courageous sailor, Momotaru heard the rumors about the Higemaru Corps spreading chaos across the seas and ventures alone to stop them. Momotaru is on his own against the Higemaru pirates, only receiving help from various items laden throughout each floor. In Street Fighter V, Momotaru is reimagined as a large, muscular Norwegian sailor who has fought against Street Fighter character Ryu at some point in the past.
- Higemaru Corps (ひげ丸軍団): The main group of enemy pirates, who has taken over the seas to do as they see fit, having trumped any attempt by sea officials to stop them. Higemarus are bearded pirates wearing a bandana and striped shirt, and lacking arms and legs (propelled only by a pair of large feet). Comes in a wide assortment of colors. They tend to stay near areas where they spawn, then move cautiously about the level, stopping every so often. Later on, however, they will actively chase Momotaru and attempt to trap him. The character of Captain Higemaru Jr. (Captain Beard Jr. in English) from Strider is based on them.
- Bows (ボウス Bousu): The captain of the Higemaru Corps, he sports a beard, a hat with a skull and crossbones emblazoned on it, a hook, and a wooden leg. Wanders aimlessly around the deck. In the sequel Higemaru Makaijima, he appears as the second-to-last boss in Ookami Island, now sporting an extendable hook hand as his attack method. Captain Beard later reveals Bows is his descendant and he was possessed by the demon and forced to hoard the treasure. In Street Fighter V, he is reimagined as the younger brother of Momotaru, now a similarly built sailor instead of a pirate captain.
Higemaru Makaijima Edit
A pseudo-sequel to the game, entitled Higemaru Makaijima: Nanatsu no Shima Daibōken (魔界島 七つの島大冒険), was released for the Family Computer and the MSX2. This game retained much of the look of the original, and many similar gameplay elements such as the ability to pick up and throw barrels at enemies, and the return of Momotaru and the pirates. However, the game featured much more diverse gameplay such as the ability to traverse a map screen via ship, levels taking place on islands, and giant bosses, as well as a deeper plot. The game is perhaps most famous, however, for having a level designed entirely as an homage to another Capcom title, Ghosts 'n Goblins. Higemaru Makaijima's April 1987 release also gives Higemaru the distinction of being the first Capcom game to receive a sequel.
In the story Momotaru takes his ship, "The Anchor", and travels to the Seven Islands in search of a treasure over rumors of a treasure said to be hidden in the area by the fabled "legendary pirate", Captain Beard.
- Tribe Kayin: Helpful inhabitants of the island who provide hints to Momotaru.
- Arthur: Appears to give Momotaru warning in the Ghosts 'n Goblins-themed Hebi Island.
- Captain: The new leader of the Higemaru Corps. He appears as a boss battle in the pirate ships, after defeating all the Higemarus. He attacks with knives and holds the keys and stone tablets needed to proceed in the game.
- Red Arremer: The final boss, he rules over the seven islands as the Sea God. He's found within a statue he breaks through, and attacks with fireballs and his arching flying attack. If Momotaru finds the Satan Sword, he can defeat the Red Arremer instantly.
- Captain Beard: The "legendery pirate" renowned across the seven islands. He retired due to old age and hid his inmense treasure in one of the islands. His tomb can be found in Ookami Island, but he still speaks from beyond to Momotaru at certain points in the game and in the best ending, assisting and congratulating him on his adventure. In Street Fighter V, he's reimagined as the middle brother of Momotaru and Bows, a muscular fisherman instead of a pirate.
- Pirate Ship Higemaru was the third game produced by Capcom, following Vulgus and SonSon. It was one of five Capcom games to use Z80-based technology, along with Vulgus, SonSon, 1942, and Exed Exes.
- The Yashichi, an item known by fans that frequently appears in Capcom games (especially those of the late 1980s and early 1990s) makes its second cameo appearance here. This is also the second game in which it appears as an item, following SonSon. Prior to this, it had appeared as an enemy in Vulgus.
- In Namco x Capcom, Sylphie, the item shop girl from Forgotten Worlds whose attacks are all taken from various Capcom games, has an attack in which she throws a barrel in the same style as Momotaru, a clear reference to Pirate Ship Higemaru.
- Characters adapted from Momotaru, Bows and Beard were given profiles in the Shadaloo Combat Research Institute character guide in August 2016. Additionally, this version of Momotaru was considered as a playable character for Street Fighter V, using his barrel as his main source of attack. Birdie however was chosen over him instead.
Higemaru, like many other games during this era of gaming, credited its staff in its default Score Ranking Table, which is as follows:
- Top 20000 T.Fujiwara
- 2nd 20000 T.Arima...
- 3rd 20000 T.Hara....
- 4th 10000 Y.Maki....
- 5th 10000 A.Mori....
- 6th 10000 T.Kawamoto
- 7th 10000 K.Kamimori
- 8th 10000 H.Fujinaka
- 9th 10000 Y.Okamoto.
- 10th 10000 R.Miyamoto
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Pirate Ship Higemaru flyer
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 Pirate Ship Higemaru page in Famitsu's Capcom Arcad Cabinet site
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Street Fighter V Character Encyclopedia: Momotaru
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Street Fighter V Character Encyclopedia: Bow
- ↑ Street Fighter V Character Encyclopedia: Beard
- ↑ Takayuki Nakayama's Twitter