| paleface [sys=PS1; cat=Driving; loc=JPN] |
|Giant round floating alien pus-bags with lot of eyes have invaded a peaceful Japanese city. Fortunately, a technologically-advanced ship with three battle mechs on-board has come along to fight the aliens. And more fortunately for you, the nameless (and nearly faceless, too, with a big unruly shock of hair hiding the eyes) young male hero who lives in the city and finds himself transported to the ship, the three lovely young female battle androids ("Q-Trons") need you to control their mechs ("Battle-Pots"), as they can only serve as the power sources. Or something.|
You pick one of the three girls/mechs to take into the next encounter, then pilot them around in your virtual-reality view of the action as the girls squirm and shout while being knocked about by the aliens. Woo! The "virtual-reality view" is a neat idea and makes for a very unique look to the battles as destroyed patches of virtual land reveal pulsing "circuitry" underneath, and the representations of the city buildings shatter in big polygonal bursts. The mechs shred buildings like tissue paper, happily, and collateral damage causes no problems for mission completion, so lay waste to your heart's content. This would be the "destroy" portion of the game, I suppose.
Each of the three mechs has different abilities: spunky young KiKi's medium-speed mech has easy-to-use, medium-range auto-tracking rapid-fire weapons, sassy ViVi's fast mech can maneuver midair and uses slow but effective projectiles (the most entertaining of which, the "Screw Tackle," launches her own mech like a cannonball), and withdrawn, intellectual LuLu's slow mech packs the heavy long-range firepower. Finish off the stage boss before the time limit and you get a little personal interlude with the android who you were just piloting, presented in very high-quality anime cutscenes. This would be the "love" portion of the game.
These cutscenes form the main incentive for replaying the game, since if your mission is successful you only see one of three possible cutscenes, and also I think the cutscenes vary by how well that particular Q-Tron "likes" you. The game proper isn't long as there are only seven or eight missions, I think, but my first time through I only caught 24% of the movies (the game tracks this information for you, conveniently enough). And I didn't get any android action, darn it! Gotta hit 'em all! *cough* Wha? Oh, er...
You'll either love or hate the control, which uses both analog sticks and takes quite a bit of getting used to as you try to move in the right direction, aim in the right direction, and keep away from incoming fire all at the same time as the aliens leap and charge around you in all directions. Two of the Battle-Pots can rocket-jump (ViVi's can triple or quadruple jump) and once you get into the flow of the it you really get a feeling of freedom of action rarely achieved in a mech combat game. I've never played a game that made me feel like I was actually taking part in an anime mech battle more than this one, and the massive enemies, huge weapons, gasping girls, dramatic camera and nicely-designed HUD all assist the controls in perpetuating this pleasing illusion.
Also worthy of mention is the menu system, quite easily the coolest interface I can recall seeing in a game: it's all blue and spinny and virtual, with screen-topping sprites of the android girls striking attitudes as you select them for a mission, and a cute little floating robot, the "EGG," providing chirpy robotic commentary as he flutters around the zipping menu selections.
The only thing that could take you out of this very nice atmosphere would be the sometimes significant slowdown in battle, but in practice you'll probably appreciate the chance to get your bearings.