Review – Ben Bero Beh

Ben Bero Beh Header. Image via

I have a confession to make: I’m attracted to weird Japanese arcade games. There’s a word for it: Bakage (Ba-kah-gey, not ba-cage). It means stupid game. It’s not to be mistaken for kusoge (koo-so-gey) which means crappy game. I have made the mistake before, but merely because I didn’t know there was a name for bizarre games.

1984’s Ben Bero Beh seems like an early example of this. You play as a super-hero named Dami-chan who has a singular super-power: fire extinguisher. It’s not that he shoots a fire-retardant foam from his hands, he literally just carries a fire extinguisher.

Finally, the day comes that he’s been waiting for. He and his girlfriend Niigata Nao-chan are trapped in a building that is both on fire and crumbling to pieces. Now, the idea is that Dami-chan is trying to rescue Nao-chan, but as my mother pointed out, she’s at the bottom. She is doing better than Dami-chan at escaping the building. She already got past the fire and crumbling floors and is waiting for Dami-chan at the door.

So, Dami-chan isn’t particularly good at his job.

Ben Bero Beh stage 1-3. A lot is going on, but the focus is Ms. Sweater falling.
I wonder if there’s a fight on a cargo elevator higher up.


Ben Bero Beh was one of the standouts on the Taito Milestones 2 collection for me. I had seen it amongst Hamster’s Arcade Archives series, but never bought it because kusoge sometimes disguises itself as bakage, and $10 is a steep price to find out your stupid is actually shit.

I would have been fine, since Ben Bero Beh isn’t crap, it’s just old. It plays much younger than it is. Sure, the concept is single-screen traversal, not unlike Donkey Kong, but the graphics and gameplay are much more detailed. I don’t think it would be popular as a high-score game, however, because it has a lot of random elements, such as where fire appears and what door certain monsters hide behind.

Donkey Kong is still the best analogue. Like in that conduction-site battler, Dami-chan is pretty slow and his jumps are quite stiff. There are three distinct stages to Ben Bero Beh, but once you clear them all, it loops. Each loop reconfigures the levels and moves obstacles. I’ve been up to the end of the fourth loop, dammit, and I haven’t seen it repeat.

Ben Bero Beh stage 1-2. Chack'n can be seen on the bottom floor following two Hiro Suzuki's.
Chack’n has fallen in with a bad crowd.


Regardless of what level you’re on, there’s always some portion of it that’s on fire. You’ll need to take care of that with your fire extinguisher, but that’s really only one of your problems. The broken fluorescent light fixtures that swing back and forth may be the worst. There are fireballs and women named Ms. Sweater that fall from the sky on the third level, but none of those women are Nao-chan, so don’t bother trying to stop their plummet. There are also floors that crumble, and you lose a life if you fall through them. This allows for a great mechanic where you have to watch your feet, because the floor may start falling apart beneath them.

If you’re too slow, floors will become engulfed in smoke, cutting off your retreat, not that you’ll likely have to. Then a flying catfish will appear to hunt you down. Worst of all is when your bonus runs out, Nao-Chan will fall through the floor. Which is actually kind of funny.

Then it gets weirder. There are doors in the background and from the first level, strange, big-mouthed dudes named Hiro Suzuki will rush out and plow through you. On the rare occasion, you’ll see an agent from Elevator Action and a Chack’n from Chack’n Pop. Pieces of debris will occasionally come to life and chase after you. Then after you clear the first series of levels and it loops, a giant head that eats you sometimes hides behind one of the doors. It has a name, too: Kazuya from Kawasaki Dorm.

It’s disconcerting. On the bottom floor of level 2-1, one of the three doors has this head. The door swings open (you can’t get past doors that block the hallways), and this gigantic face comes out. It sticks out its long, slender tongue, and if you haven’t immediately retreated, it will wrap around you and drag you in. Dami-chan then reappears from behind a random door in the level, so you might be set back all the way to the top.

However, when I say random, I mean random. It one time spit me out a door directly beside Nao-chan. This is why I think high-score chasers would hate this game.

Ben Bero Beh Kazuya from Kawasaki Dorm drags Dami-chan into the doorway using his tongue.
Augh! No!


What I love most about Ben Bero Beh is that it just feels good. I don’t just mean the controls, but while we’re on the subject, aiming the fire extinguisher is just perfect. You can point it up to arc it over a long distance or point it directly in front of you to put out any approaching flames. There isn’t a tonne of strategy to handling the extinguisher, but there’s just enough to break up the hopping.

But where it really feels great is with the aesthetics. For a 1984 game, it’s very expressive. The way Dami-chan carefully descends the stairs, one step at a time, or the wholesome smooch at the end of every level adds a lot of visual charm.

Look, I’m not going to pretend that every arcade game released in and before 1984 was ugly – this was the year of Punch-Out, after all – but it was rare that one made such great use of its limited resolution and space for animation. It’s just oozing with so much infectious personality that you could spread it on your toast.

It’s enough to make me wonder who the designers were on it. Did they do anything else after this? Are there Ben Bero Beh-like games that I should now check out? Are they launching a Kickstarter for their next game, and can I back it for some physical gewgaws? 

This was back when four or five people would work on a game, but it was also when they never got any credit. As such, there are no credits in Ben Bero Beh. There are also no credits in any of the flyers I’ve seen. In fact, there are very few credits associated to Taito games in the vicinity of Ben Bero Beh’s release. If I ever have the ear of someone at Taito or maybe even Hamster (the Arcade Archives people), I’m definitely going to pester them.

Ben Bero Beh Dami-chan reuniting with Nao-chan
D’awww. Such a cute couple.


I thought this would be a short review since Ben Bero Beh is a simple coin-op title, but this wound up a lot longer than I expected. I just really love this game, and it really isn’t difficult to explain why.

I mean, this isn’t likely something you’re going to sit in front of for hours. If you were at the arcade, you might spend 100円 in the machine, then move on. However, if you were me, you’d return to it every time you visited.

I miss arcades.

My Switch has become my little arcade along with my arcade stick. While I try to demystify juggling different movesets in King of Fighters and complete the fourth loop in Donkey Kong, I always make time to see if I can beat my high score in Ben Bero Beh. Sharing a rotation with Metal Slug and Final Fight? That says a lot. A lot more than can be fit in a short review.


This review was conducted on a Nintendo Switch using a digital copy of Taito Milestones 2. This was provided to the author by the publisher for a previous review on another publication.

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About Zoey Handley 243 Articles
Zoey made up for her mundane childhood by playing video games. Now she won't shut up about them. Her eclectic tastes have led them across a vast assortment of consoles and both the best and worst games they have to offer. A lover of discovery, she can often be found scouring through retro and indie games. She currently works as a Staff Writer at Destructoid.

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