SummaryThe Battle Cry of an Almost Great Game
The GoodRobotech, as many of us know, is an amalgamated cartoon series from the mid-1980's of three separate anime series. For some people this is a contested issue, and for others it is not that important. Thus, the focus of this review is not dependent upon the cartoon nor the animes, but I will, at times, make some references to the former.
Robotech: Battlecry encapsulates the entire Robotech story from the cartoon into a small package. The story, (which I can do no justice in a line or two of text), is about an alien ship crash landing on Earth that brings to an end a vicious world war ravaging the countries of our planet. The world unites, rebuilds the ship, learns from its advanced technology, and is about to celebrate the completion of this project when the alien owners of the ship arrive, start to attack, and pursue the ship, (called the SDF-1), on the planet and into space. The humans, (and the player), fight the aliens, (called the Zentraadi), in transformable planes. They can transform from a plane into a plane/robot hybrid and into a giant robot. This is the crux of the gameplay.
We've spent enough time on the story; let's move onto the actual gameplay. The veritech, (the transforming plane), is what the developers spent most of their time on. To transform requires only a push of the D-Pad. There are slightly different controls for each veritech mode, but all are intuitive and not overly complicated. There is flying in plane mode, hovering and flying in battloid mode, and running, hovering, and flying in guardian mode. Each mode has it's own slightly different weapons arrangement, (missiles in plane mode are stronger than in battloid mode, but the guardian can target missiles with its gun and the other modes cannot). And if you could not tell already, the missions are designed around the strengths and weaknesses of each mode of the veritech.
The missions themselves are not that diverse in aim but are diverse in scope. Sometimes you have to shoot down all the enemy planes, in many you have to defend various allied craft, in all you shoot stuff. But there are missions that puts the vertiech on the ground, in the upper atmosphere, and even into space. You will shoot stuff in each, but the scope can be quite large. (There is a mission in space were huge space ships are battling back and forth and your veritech, literally, is caught in the middle).
There is voice acting throughout with many of the original cast members returning to their original roles. Fans of the cartoon series will throw a fit when they'll hear Roy Fokker or Rick Hunter communicating over the radio. Yes, it's hard to believe, but they are the same voice actors from almost 20-years ago. So, even though none of the actors will win an Emmy or an Oscar for this project, the pure nostalgic value rates this voice acting very high.
The music should seem a bit nostalgic too. The original themes have been recycled by the new sound team. When you turn on your system and the Harmony Gold logo appears you will know instantly what you're in for. The music is cool and a bit "retro", (many youngsters will say), and entirely appropriate for this game.
The BadThe veritechs are cool, and as progress is made through the game, new veritechs become available. But these differences are only reflected in the shape of the head of the veritech in guardian mode. This isn't a big deal, but when you cycle through all of your veritech options towards the end of the game, it is rather funny to see the heads shuffle around.
Some of the music can get a bit repetitious towards the end of the game. I don't know how many tracks there are, but the player will be very familiar with them all by the end of the game.
Unfortunately there are a few bugs. First, when the player flies into a wall your veritech will sometimes get stuck. To get out you have to change modes, then the wall will release you. And at times I had terrible sound problems within the game. Dialogue from previous missions would interject into my current mission, music would scramble, and dialogue boxes wouldn't go away.
The Bottom LineBottom line, this is almost a great game. Why almost? It satisfies arcade flying, traditional shooting action, and minor strategy. The veritech is tons of fun to pilot and is a cinch to transform on the fly. The missions, (and there are many missions), never really feel too similar thanks to the diversity of the environments and conditions. Voice acting from the original cast is really cool and evinces to us that the developer and publisher did care about making a game for fans of a cartoon series 20-years old. And the music, while some may think retro, is nostalgic.
There are drawbacks that keep this game from greatness. The story could have used some tightening, there should have been more visual differentiation in the veritechs, and many of those bugs should have been fixed. But I do want to belabor the negative points - when you're playing, you won't be thinking of these things. If anything, I want to belabor the primary point of the consistent fun that is to be found in this game. It is good enough to stand on its own without the Robotech franchise name behind, but since it is a game within that universe, in the end I think of a great homage, tight gameplay, and rewarding fun from start to finish.