Z.H.P. Unlosing Ranger Vs. Darkdeath Evilman begins with the final boss fight. The Unlosing Ranger is on his way to rescue Super Baby from the clutches of the villainous Darkdeath Evilman when a car accidentally hits him and he dies, bestowing his powers on a random passerby. The new hero dutifully goes to his boss fight, where he, too, quickly dies, only to be revived on Bizarro Earth so he can properly train to go back and finish the battle. Nippon Ichi, makers of the Disgaea and Prinny games, is known for putting out weird titles, but this is one of the company’s most bizarre yet.
Death in Z.H.P. is always a learning experience. To properly become a hero, the new Unlosing Ranger must train through a series of randomly generated dungeons. Leaving a dungeon, whether by taking the stairs or dying, resets you to level one, but your stats get upgraded based on the levels you earned. Items typically also disappear when you die, though you can buy upgrades that save some prized possessions, or put backups in storage. Neither is really necessary, since the levels are littered with new gear to grab, and your equipment constantly degrades, until items are more useful as projectiles than anything else. Throwing things is a major part of the game, whether you’re tossing items at bad guys to put them to sleep or poison them, or actually picking up enemies and chucking them away to buy your character time to run off, heal, or cast a spell. While you can implant your hero with some buffs, he largely remains a blank slate, picking up special abilities from the bizarre items he wears, which include centaur legs, tank treads, or a fuzzy tail. Defeat the boss of your training dungeon, and you’ll get sent back to test yourself against the final boss. Who of course kills you again, sending you right back to training.
Dungeon levels go by pretty quickly, though you’ll often need to go back to an earlier part to level up before facing the boss. The game isn’t tedious, thanks to the variety of the trap-packed dungeons and the ridiculous plot and dialogue. Your trainers constantly complain about your skills, and even your wife threatens you with divorce unless you spend all your dungeon-earned money on her. But the key to being the Unlosing Ranger is just to keep going, no matter how many times you, well, lose.