Known as “Be Ball” in its native Japan, Chew Man Fu is an excellent arcade-style puzzle game where the gameplay involves pushing and pulling coloured balls around a maze. The colours are important, because – in the main game, at least – you have to push/pull the balls onto the same-coloured floor switches. And: do all of this while avoiding being killed by bad guys.
The key thing is: you can push/pull the balls around corners, and can move forwards and backwards in a particular way to make your way around the maze. The balls – if gripped – will also block the bad guys from touching you, and you can also kick the balls at them to temporarily take them out of the game.
The early maze configurations are all very simple, but as you progress Chew Man Fu becomes harder and harder. Not only does it get harder to push the balls onto the correct switches, but the enemies get trickier too. Some can even pick up the balls and run away with them.
Chew Man Fu is playable both single-player, and simultaneous two-player. It also has a single-screen football mini game, called ‘Kickball’ as an amusing diversion.
The title is a parody of “Fu Manchu“, a fictional villain from a series of books and films. Chew Man Fu is actually the villiain in this.
Chew Man Fu is a ‘hidden gem’ on the PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16 that is well worth searching out and playing nowadays. It was developed by Now Production for Hudson Soft and released on the PC Engine in Japan and North America in 1990.