Marl Kingdom: Happy Hunt (lost mobile web game; 2001)
Nippon Ichi Software is undoubtedly best known for their tactical role-playing video game series, Disgaea. However, their claim to fame before this was the Marl Kingdom games series, which follows a family descended from a race known as the Ancients, who have the power to communicate with puppets.
The series has three main installments - Puppet Princess of Marl Kingdom (1998, PlayStation, released in America as Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure in 2001,) Little Princess of Marl Kingdom (1999, PlayStation) and Angel's Present: A Marl Kingdom Story (2000, PlayStation 2). The first two games in the series received mobile ports in 2006 and 2007, respectively, as a part of the i-Mode mobile web content service, but prior to this, Nippon Ichi Software had an exclusive mobile web title offered through the service, known as Happy Hunt! (ハッピーハント) which was available through the service from 2001 to 2005. After the game was replaced with new Marl Kingdom ports, it subsequently became unavailable.
- The service that the game was provided at the cost of 300 Yen (approx $3 USD) per month.
- The game forces players to pace themselves, so many missions required long, real-time waiting periods before they could be finished.
- The title is split into three chapters, with unspecified/undocumented bonus scenarios.
- Because of technical limitations, the game had no music or sound effects. This did, however, allow it to run very well on a great many different models of phones, both old and new.
- This installment presumably reuses the bulk of its graphics from the first two Marl Kingdom games.
- The hint and bestiary features that are present in Puppet Princess i, Little Princess i, and Rhapsody DS were introduced in this game.
- There are eight recruitable puppets in the game.
The 16-year-old protagonist who lives in the Puppet Museum in Panna Cotta Village. She acts as the older sister figure for MIG. Like the protagonists of the other Marl games, she has a mysterious ability to communicate with puppets. She uses a magical flute to command them in battle.
A puppet who was created by Cocone. Only Chocolate can hear him. He's a mischievous troublemaker.
Chocolate's grandmother who lives in a Puppet Museum. She's a top-class puppet maker but doesn't have her granddaughter's ability to talk to puppets, so Chocolate usually translates MIG's chatter for Cocone.
- Prince Lunin
Prince of the Carrot Kingdom.
Please note that the following summaries are taken from machine translations, and therefore likely contain errors.
- Chapter One
Chocolate and Mig meet Prince Lunin, who gets turned into a doll. They set off to meet the great sage Polansky to find a reversal of the puppet curse.
- Chapter Two
Prince Lunin sends a letter to Chocolate asking her to attend an official ceremony with him, but with the true intention of sneaking out so they can go on a date at the circus instead.
- Chapter Three
There is no surviving synopsis of chapter three online.
Full artwork is taken from the Marl Kingdom Golden Art CD.
There are no screenshots available from this title; in fact, the only surviving graphics are those that were provided on the 10th Anniversary digital art collection (Marl Kingdom Golden CD) and some promotional materials. Because of the nature of the game (each chapter was automatically overwritten once cleared) and the fact that service for the title was discontinued once the i-Mode version of Puppet Princess was released, there are presumably no copies of this game left in the hands of consumers. However, with the series' 20th anniversary approaching in 2018, we can only hope that Nippon Ichi Software will acknowledge it, if not rerelease it.
- (ARCHIVED) Official website of Happy Hunt, archived on the Wayback machine.
- Japanese Wikipedia article on the Marl Kingdom series, with a blurb on Happy Hunt.
- The only surviving online walkthrough for the game; however, it only reaches the end of chapter 2, so it is still incomplete.
- Another walkthrough for the game. This one only summarizes the first chapter, so it has even less content than the first one, but it does go into the menu options.
- (ARCHIVED) An online article about the game, complete with screenshots; however, the image links are now dead, and weren't archived through the Wayback machine.