Title: Bio Miracle: Boku tte Upa
   Genre: Action
   Developer: Konami
   Released by: Konami
   Release Date: April 22, 1988
   Japanese level:
1 (only the title is in Japanese)
   MSRP: 3300 yen
   Current Price: 700 yen

For Konami, the year 1987 was filled with almost entirely RPG and RPG-style games, and all of them seemed to be set in the post apocalyptic future. If that got boring for the Japanese kids who ate up these games, then they could have a go at Konami's shooters, including the classic Contra.

By the time 1988 came around, Disk System coding techniques had already hit their peak and 64k a side was not feeling very big after all. Konami responded the most intelligent way possible - make a platformer with cutesy, colorful graphics that won't take up much space! Hence the origin (maybe - keep in mind I made up that last sentence) of Bio Miracle: Boku tte Upa.

What's going on?

I'm not entirely sure what the Bio Miracle is in this game, but the plotlines follow this general path: Upa (as in "Oompa-Loompa", without the M) is the prince of a magical fairy-tale kingdom and the most recent in a line of brave fighters. One day, though, he broke an urn containing the spirit of Zai, an incredibly evil goatish demon who takes the life force of the kingdom's adults (Sailor Moon-style) and kidnaps all the babies - except for Upa, who is given a magical rattle by a fairy who was trapped in the urn along with Zai. And so, in order to save his kingdom, Upa crawls into action...

Why, how twee

Fight fire with inflatable enemies!
I agree; it is pretty twee, isn't it? I can imagine all the Japanese kids who bought all of Konami's hard 'n heavy RPG cartridges, then took one look at this plot and said "What the hell is this". It's Kirby's Adventure at a time when Kirby's Adventure wouldn't have sold. Now that it's all after the fact, though, we can dispose of our youthful hatred of twee games (otherwise I'd never be able to play a King's Quest game) and enjoy the gameplay as it is.

Upa is a baby, so he crawls. If you got a problem with that, go rent Death Scenes or something 'cos this is definitely not the game for you. Despite this, Upa can jump pretty well for some reason.

The rattle he carries around is quite a useful weapon, for when he bops an enemy at it he inflates it. Konami never explains the rattle = inflation correlation, but it's quite useful for our hero because he can do three things to inflated enemies: nothing (they float up and explode in a few seconds), jump on top of them and use them as a platform, or headbutt them to send them flying, preferably at other enemies. You'll need to watch out for inflated-enemy rebounds at certain places, though.

As it turns out, this is where most of the game's challenge comes from. There are sections where, gosh darn it, there just aren't any platforms to advance on but lots of flying enemies to blow up and hope on. The bosses all happen to have little frogs or whatever hopping around them, ready for blowing up and firing. The comparisons to Kirby's Adventure fly to mind again as you realize both games' bosses provide you with the exact weapon needed to destroy them!

Belly flopping in a vertical level. Note
doomed, inflated enemy below us.
Adding to the Kirby flavor are the 'themed' levels. Level one is entitled "Sweet World", and it ain't because of the local ladies. In Robocod style you hop across popsicles, eat your way through giant cakes, tiptoe o'er the topping, if you will. After all that fun, Upa grudgingly enters Vegetable World (oh ewww, yuk), followed by Ice World, IC World (taking place inside your computer), Stationery World (no, really), Milky World, and finally the final Miracle Castle. It's these wacky graphics in part that make the game a breath of fresh air in platform hell.

The variety of things you do isn't bad, either. There are a couple of 'invincibility' items you can pick up - they actually just give you the ability to stand on both legs and run around (presumably these enemies are all such wusses they cannot take on anyone upright). You swim a bit in World 2 and enter a few vertical, Kid Icarus style wraparound stages later on. Fighting isn't so hard, either; once you get the timing of sending enemies toward bosses you can defeat them handily.

Overall, if you like the Kirby games (and you should know by now that I do) then you'll get along fine with this jobbie as well. If you don't have a Disk System there's still hope - Konami re-released this game in 1993 as a regular cartridge (although the music sounds better on the FDS thanks to the FM channel). IIRC Upa made another appearance as a character in one Parodius incarnation or another, but has seemingly disappeared from the Konami repertoire. Which is sort of a shame. I think Kirby needs some competition, anyway.