Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Popful Mail

Go To
Popful Mail is a side-scrolling action-adventure game, originally made by Falcom (developers of the Ys series) for NEC's PC-88 home computer, and then ported to the PC-98, Sega CD and PC Engine CD systems. Working Designs worked on the localization for the North American Sega CD version. There's also a little-known Super Famicom version which is essentially a Reformulated Game due to the remixed area layouts and some plot structure differences, but it still recognizably contains the same overall story as other incarnations.

It stars a charmingly inept elven bounty hunter named Popful Mail (think Lina Inverse with Pointy Ears), who's spent much of her adventuring life chasing after the notorious criminal Nuts Cracker. She manages to corner him, but is only able to retrieve Nuts' head (as his body runs away from her during their melee), which is practically worthless. Frustrated, she takes her trophy and wanders toward a town, where she learns of an even better bounty — 2,000,000 gold for the capture of an evil old wizard named Muttonhead.

Tropes used in Popful Mail (English-language Sega CD version unless otherwise noted):

  • Action Girl: Mail.
  • Action RPG: Has a shop, gold to collect, a world map, and various weapons and items to acquire, but it's played as a side-scroller.
  • The Ahnold: Sven.
  • Art Evolution: The character art in the original Japanese PC games was cartoony and cutesy, while the Sega CD port gives the characters more realistic body proportions.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: At least 50% of the bosses can only be damaged in a certain spot.
  • Auto-Revive: The Elixyr (which appears in starting inventory) will restore Mail to full health if a blow would otherwise be lethal. It's expensive compared to other means of healing.
  • Big Bad: Muttonhead.
  • Boss Arena Urgency:
    • The platforms in the room with the Happy Flames of Death gradually decay, so it's imperative that you finish them off as quickly as possible.
    • The Overlord shoots fireballs at the floor, turning them into spikes. Better beat him quickly before you don't have a safe spot to stand...
  • Boss Rush: For the final battle of the game, you must first fight Kazyr, followed by Morgal with Gaw, Necros with Tatt, and finally the Overlord as Mail.
  • Bounty Hunter: Mail.
  • Breath Weapon: Gaw's fireball and Aura Breath attacks.
  • Chainmail Bikini: Popful Mail's outfit. In fact her name is practically a poor translation of the term ("mail" as in a type of armor, and "popful" aptly describes its shape).
  • Dem Bones: Boney Rubbler, as well as the other skeleton enemies.
  • Difficulty by Region: The American Sega CD version is harder. You have no Mercy Invincibility and enemies can take and deal more damage.
  • The Ditz: Glug, the dwarven artisan. Slick has his moments, too. Mail averts this. Despite being hotheaded, she's focused on her job.
  • The Dragon: Nuts Cracker serves as one to Muttonhead.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Mail finally earns her well-deserved money after thwarting the Masters of Evil and their follower's plans, vanquishing for good Nuts Cracker and the Masters of Evil's leading fallen god Olgra the Overlord, and enjoys the spoils of their massive treasure room in the ending.
  • Easy Levels, Hard Bosses: Most of the levels have steady difficulty slopes, but bosses take it from 5 to 15. And consider the fact they could all kill you with just three hits.
  • Elves vs. Dwarves: Inverted in the case of Slick (elf) and Glug (dwarf), who are best friends.
  • Evil Living Flames: The first boss fought in the Mine area is a group of living fireballs that Venuncio calls the "Happy Flames of Death", who can only be harmed at the apex of their jump arc.
  • Evil Mentor: Muttonhead used to be Tatt's teacher, until he went crazy and became Public Enemy #1.
  • Fake King: Draquin, who posed as the penguin king Lipps so he could reign over the penguins.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Venuncio's Happy Flames of Death.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: Clobster, a robot lobster which splits into two large mechanical crabs upon defeat.
  • Goldfish Poop Gang: Muttonhead and Nuts Cracker.
  • Golem: Three of 'em, and you have to fight them all: Muttonhead's Wood Golem, Venuncio's Mythril Golem, Sven's Fire Golem transformation, and technically, Olgra's mythril constructed body to manifest with into the world with.
  • The Goomba: The Badger Bandits.
  • Graphics-Induced Super-Deformed: The original PC-88 and 98, plus PC-Engine releases didn't have the hardware to render the tall, busty Mail on the cover. Characters tend to be small if nicely animated. The Sega CD release averts this.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Overlord, whom you don't confront directly until you defeat Kazyr, his most loyal mortal servant.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: It's a Working Designs game, after all. Clear the game quickly and you'll get to hear voice-acting bloopers after the credits have finished rolling.
  • Hong Kong Dub: The English version uses a program that attempts to replicate natural lip movements during voiced cutscenes. Even by the admission of the localization team, there are times when the lip-synching can be hilariously off.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Sven T. Uncommon's introduction, written as puns on titles of popular Arnold Schwarzenegger movies at the time of the game's release.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Zoth Shrine and Fort Fryght.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!: Your party is separated for the final three battles, with each one fighting the Overlord and his two most powerful henchmen.
  • Lost Wedding Ring: A sidequest involving a woman in Treesun who had her ring stolen by the leader of the Badger Bandits.
  • MacGyvering: Slick makes his own bombs from homemade products.
  • Mad Bomber: The first boss. Nuts Cracker is also fond of using his (many) head(s) as an explosive device.
  • Mercy Invincibility: For both you and your enemies. Yours is insignificant, but thankfully you can pass through enemies without harm when they have it on.
  • Mighty Glacier: Gaw can be considered this - he does the most amount of damage out of the three characters, but his movement speed is the slowest due to his stubby legs.
  • Mithril: Used for one of Venuncio's golems, and also as a host body for the Overlord.
  • Miser Advisor: Mail. She really needs the money, as she hasn't been able to land a single bounty.
  • Money Spider: Every normal enemy coughs up either gold or a healing item. There are two specific mummies in the Mine, who drop Gold Bullions that sell for 500 gold each! They're there because you will need four Gold Bullions to complete a required quest.
  • The Name Is Bond, James Bond: Mail introduces herself this way to almost every friendly NPC she meets.
  • One-Winged Angel:
    • Sven does this twice. After fighting him midway through the Zoth Shrine, you fight him again at the end as he transforms into a large sword-wielding beast called Chargon. When you face him in Fort Fryght, he's morphed into a large Fire Golem.
    • Also, Draquin, the evil penguin boss of Chilly. After defeating him in his one-eyed serpentine form, he invokes the Overlord's powers to morph into a two-headed dragon.
  • Only in It for the Money: Mail's main motivation for doing pretty much anything.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: The Gaw race.
  • Overly Long Name: Venuncio, who introduces himself as "Klabberdeen Klotchsniffer Leetzlewiffle Poopiewouffen von Venuncio Krakenlichter Ratchetface XIV".
  • Planet of Steves: The Gaws, a species of baby dragons, do not have personal names.
  • Pointy Ears: All of the elves, including Mail, Slick, and several other characters.
  • Polar Penguins: Chilly, the fourth world, is full of them.
  • Recurring Boss: Sven and Nuts Cracker. Lampshaded after you fight Nuts the second time, where the accompanying victory text box says "(Player) defeated Nuts Cracker! (for real this time)".
  • Reformulated Game: The Sega CD version uses much larger sprites compared to the PC-88 version, and therefore has adjusted the stage layouts to take advantage of them.
  • Respawning Enemies: Enemies respawn about two-screens away.
  • RPG Elements: Mainly in the form of weapon upgrades and gold.
  • Serial Escalation: The events of the game eventually go from a mere bounty hunting operation adventure into a full-scale questing crusade against a diabolical cabal bent on the domination not just the world but all of existence. It's when you get to the lands of Volcano and into the ruins stage does the game give greater detail on the importance of the great war of old and why its events are far-reaching and relevant to what Mail and friends are facing on their journey.
  • Sexy Packaging: The original PC-98 version's box-art of the game features Mail getting dressed by tanukis, with Mail showing some legs and her leotard's strap falling off.
  • Shockwave Stomp / Ground Pound: Thrashmaster+ uses this one on you.
  • Shout-Out: Plenty. With this being a Working Designs adaptation, it's to be expected.
    • Sven's introduction is filled with these puns: "Listen to me now and fear me pretty soon... I am no kindergarten cop! The sissy-man Venuncio could not teach you a lesson, so I have come to terminate you! I am the predator, and you are my prey. This little skirmish will be your last action, hero person. It's judgment day!"
  • Spikes of Doom: Thankfully, they cannot kill you in one hit, and there is an item which allows you to step on them.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: Mail and her friends can stay underwater as long as they like.
  • Third-Person Person: The Gaw who joins your party only refers to himself as "Gaw", never using personal pronouns.
  • Verbal Tic: All of the Gaws end their sentences with "Gaw!"
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: The Wood Golem. It does a lot of damage per hit, has an annoying to avoid bum rush, and when you defeat its body, you have to keep hitting its head or else it will respawn its body forcing you to repeat the whole process.
  • Warm-Up Boss: The Mad Bomber, whose attacks are easy to take cover from and it dies in 10 hits.
  • White Magician Boy: Tatt has the character design, staff, and personality of a White Magician Girl.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: When Mail tells Slick that she's out to find magical orbs to help prevent the Overlord from rising again, Slick dismisses them as junk.