|I have a theory as to why this was the last recorded game by developer/publisher "aroma": you just don't stay in business putting out four-disc horizontal shooters. Unfortunately. The production values in this game actually caused my jaw to drop. The game consists of eight "episodes" (got that number from a FAQ, I've only been up to episode four so far, the end of disc 1), each of which plays out like an actual old anime cartoon complete with intro song, introductory story sequence, "TV" commercial for cheesy robot toys, ending credits and a teaser for the next episode. Most of the story sequences are slideshow-like affairs with decent art but rather slow progression, particularly as I can't understand what anyone is saying--there are three young men and three young women all living in a cheesy looking futuristic base with an old scientist guy and every episode there's the detection of a new massive mechanized foe, some yelling (usually involving the old scientist), then the three guys zoom off in their vehicles to go shoot stuff. Pretty much like the Brady Bunch except that (much as we might have wanted it to happen with the Brady's) these characters may get killed off, become romantically intertwined, etc. It's kind of like if they made a plasticy version of a Sakura Taisen shooting game, complete with branching (or alterable, anyway) storylines. The sprites in fact look somewhat scratchy and plastic like the sprites is ST1, though this seems to have been completely intentional. Stage bosses are 3d but look 2d for the most part and are kind of frustrating because they take a lot of shooting and will fire bullets or lumber around the screen in seemingly unavoidable patterns. Fortunately you have a generous "armor" meter so your robot can take quite a few hits.|
Oh, okay so between the story bits and anime cutscenes (these look really nice) and fake commercials you shoot stuff. You can switch between three configurations of Geppy-X, each based around one of the three pilots--though looking at the FAQ it looks as though more configurations may come along later in the game. Each configuration has regular attack, alternate attack, regular and alternate charge attacks and a super attack (using a super meter that charges when you take damage). There's also a button to switch directions as foes may come from left or right. I kind of don't like the direction switching thing--I think it can be blamed for the horizontal action being a bit slow (the parts of some stages up to the boss fights sometimes feel somewhat sluggish and filler-ish) and for some of the frustation in boss fights, as most bosses are scripted to leap from one side of the screen to the other at certain points, forcing you to get your slow butt out of their way which isn't easy because they take up nearly the whole height of the screen. Then there's the irksome way in which you're completely knocked out of your charge powerup or attack if you take a hit. The most annoying thing, though, is the how button input is completely ignored if another button action is in progress. For instance, if you press the fire button, then press the direction switch button in the next second or so, you don't switch direction. This becomes a real problem in the aforementioned direction-switching boss fights.
But considering the massive amount of high-quality content here (did I mention the voice acting, frequently during combat, which makes use of well-known anime voice actors, and the stage soundtracks by various well-known (according to le FAQ) anime composers?) as well as the campy sense of humor, the somewhat clunky controls are forgivable. aroma, you noble fools, I salute you, wherever you are now. EHHHHHKUUUUUUSSSSSSUUUUUU BEEEEAAAAMMMMM!