Over at Comiket, Takara Tomy have unveiled the next set of Video Game Robotics gashapon that were meant for a June release (that are now scheduled for December instead). In total, the series will contain four mecha from four different games. They are the PDF-802 X-4+ from Power Dolls 2, a PC turnbased strategy game with mecha designed by none other than Hajime Katoki. Followed by the HIGH-MACS 12 from the original Gungriffon and then the V-MH GLORY from the super rare Metal Slader Glory adventure game on the Famicom (later ported to the Super Famicom). The last mecha, of the four, is apparently a new blast runner from the upcoming Border Break Air Burst. However, all this may sound and look wonderful but the last set of gashapon in the range were pretty awful and they cost 700 yen a piece, these new toys cost 400 yen each. Considering the poor quality of the previous set, reducing the price for the new one doesn’t exactly bode well really.
For the more observant of you this may seem awfully similar to Dracue’s Gunhound, which we do still intend to review. Like Gunhound though, Gigantic Army’s functional influences stem from the Assault Suits series, specifically Valken and Leynos II (not to mention VOTOMS, as many of the roller sound effects are lifted straight from the series!). With any luck this may even get an English translation but for the time being the game is more than playable in Japanese.
This cross-promotion seems to be in addition to an already announced cross-promotion between the two games, where items unlocked in Peace Walker will be available in Front Mission Evolved, and/or vice versa. Considering the very different nature of the two games’ mecha, I’m wondering how this will actually work; if it’s robot-to-robot part swapping it could look awkward, albeit possibly interesting. The mecha in Peace Walker are heavy tank-like walkers and reworked versions of Metal Gear Solid 3′s Shagohod, while Front Mission Evolved’s mecha conform more to the Real Robot standard of quick-moving humanoid weapons, equipped with thrusters and ground rollers.
I wouldn’t mind the big secret being a face-off against the venerable Metal Gear REX from the original Metal Gear Solid. I’ve been waiting years to go mano-a-mano (well, mecha-to-mecha) against that monster without support from an insane cyborg ninja. Getting help from an insane cyborg ninja always felt like cheating.
As a series, Transformers often gets a bum deal when it comes to gaming. In recent history at least, the majority of the games made using the license have been functionally atrocious. However, much of this was down to the games being lead by the nose by the original intellectual property and, for the last few games, down to idiotic schedules on account of them being film tie-ins. Thankfully, games like Batman: Arkham Asylum have shown that if you use the framework of the IP to build a game at its own pace you can end up with something decent.
Activision did just that and between film releases decided to fund a dedicated Transformers game which wasn’t stringently bound to the narrative idiosyncrasies of a series that’s, to be fair, pretty mongrel at the best of times. High Moon have managed to tackle the challenge with a remarkable level of craftsmanship and for the first time in a long while I’ve been able to play a refreshingly good Transformers game.
What with this year’s BotCon having finished over the weekend, the peeps over at TFORMERS.com have uploaded a rather interesting Q&A session with some of the team members who worked on the recently released War for Cybertron. Both Matt Tieger and Aaron Archer talked a fair bit about various aspects of the game but some of the more curious tidbits where the mention of future games that were either to be RPG orientated or even a Twisted Metal-type racer. Bear in mind that these comments were more of the “wishlist” variety and by no means binding, but at the very least it’s a refreshing take and one that does break out of the overtly standardised genre types.
As for the game itself, we’ll be reviewing it very shortly and overall we were very impressed with High Moon’s effort. Considering that the Transformers series often gets a bum deal with games, it’s a great relief to finally play one that doesn’t suck horribly.
The wondrous news of a MBV-04-G Temjin toy on the way has finally manifested itself via an official site from Bandai. Despite specifying both the release date for October this year and the price of 5,040 yen, the site also sports the “theme tune” of sorts for Temjin (or more accurately the stage music where you face Temjin in the original Virtual On). Called In The Blue Sky it’s been a recurring anthem of sorts for the series as a whole. The site also shows a curious lighting effect for the beam sword, whether this is a photoshop special (most likely) or an actual feature remains to be seen. In addition to the site going live there’s also an interesting interview with Juro Watari (effectively the “creator” of Virtual On) over at the official Virtual On site about this new toy.
The swirling chaos that is E3 is almost over, and while it will be some time before anyone can make sense of what this raw data pulse from the games industry actually means, there have been a few mecha-related sightings and announcements for the observant mechanical fanatic.
One of the biggest surprises of the show came in this trailer for the campaign of Halo: Reach, which revealed the presence of space fighter combat. While a lot of FPS fans were shocked by the news, Halo has always had an emphasis on using vehicles, so this is really just an extreme extension of that. More interesting to mecha gaming fans, perhaps, is how Real Robot the Spartan designs now look. While we have talked about the Spartan design and its similarities to Yutaka Izubuchi’s work before, specifically the GM Sniper II and GM Command, the comparison to Japanese Real Robot design is even more pronounced now. The squad of Spartans we see all have different kinds of equipment, and therefore distinct visual looks, which describe their role type on the battlefield. This is something that mecha games have been doing for years and now more mainstream games are finally catching up. Some of the interviews and information being leaked out talk about being able to customize your player character Spartan with different weapons, equipment and aesthetic features, making the character more like a human wearing powered armor and less like a generic guy with guns (something we talked a bit about last week with Vanquish).
Speaking of Vanquish, there’s a gameplay video from the E3 floor which shows the protagonist hopping on and controlling what reminds me of the Regult battle pod from Macross. Vanquish continues to look as amazing as ever and the interesting mixture of Western and Japanese game ideas will hopefully inject some much-needed lifeblood into the ‘third person shooter’ genre.
And more directly mecha related, I was happy to see in the new Warhammer 40,000 MMO trailer some of the massive robotic weapons the Warhammer 40k universe has to offer. While actual details on the game are currently light, and no one seems to be able to tell us whether we will control some of these mechanical monstrosities or if they’re just the 40k MMO equivalent to World of Warcraft’s raid bosses, it does seem as if the developer is trying to incorporate some of the more epic-scaled elements of the 40k universe rather than just making the WoW clone that everyone else is trying to make. I refuse to believe there can be anything bad about a fictional universe that agrees with Mobile Suit Gundam’s assertion that vehicles painted red go faster, at any rate.
Over at Game Watch it seems that the Japanese release date for Front Mission Evolved has been confirmed as the 16th September. Interestingly, the article also talks of a release on Steam. The US release, confirmed in the trailer below, is two days before the Japanese one; on the 14th September. Naturally, upon release, we’ll be reviewing the game – so keep an eye out for that.
After almost a year of waiting, Mektek X has released MechWarrior 4 to the public. The gates were actually opened to the free release a few days ago, but the flood of MechWarrior fans crushed the MTX client with their sheer enthusiasm, but it now appears that the problems are (mostly) worked out and the client is now chugging along fine. If you do have any additional problems, they do offer a beta release of their client in addition to the current version, which is supposed to be less dependent on the client being able to connect to the website, in case the problems that the original flood created show up again. Obviously there are still a lot of bugs for the MTX team to work out, but their hard dedication seems to finally be paying off: MechWarrior is back. Polish up your Death From Above skills while waiting for the upcoming new MechWarrior game.
The guys at MekTek have recently re-announced the free release of MechWarrior 4, saying that the issues with Microsoft’s legal team have been resolved. As the team’s update notes, it has been nearly a year since the original announcement of the free release, and rather than being upset by the long wait, I have to give serious kudos to the members of the MekTek team for continuing to work on this project despite all the obstacles they’ve faced. In an era where community projects unexpectedly rise and just as suddenly fall, the MechWarrior/Battletech community have really stuck together and with this upcoming free release, other amazing fan projects, and the official MechWarrior franchise reboot coming soon, MechWarrior/BattleTech’s destiny looks brighter than it ever has since the release of Mechwarrior 2: Mercenaries, all the way back in 1996. Hopefully this gathering of excitement and creative energy can revitalize the flatlined state of Western mecha gaming development.