DescriptionKokuga is a slow-moving, free-scrolling top-down shooter where players are placed in control of a futuristic "compact mobile tank" known as Kokuga. The Kokuga is suspended on four "legs" and features a single turret capable of rotating 360 degrees using the shoulder buttons.
Each stage has the player move through destroying other mechanical, tank-like, turret-like, and robotic enemies. Most stages end with massive and varied boss battles. Stages are separated into segments with large gates at the dividers--destroying all enemies before destroying the divider resorts in bonus shield repairs. Destroying the gate without defeating all the enemies in that section merely results in all enemies therein being annihilated.
Kokuga differentiates itself from most other shooters in a variety of ways. Rather than collecting power-ups, players already have 20 "cards" to utilize. Of these 20 attack and support cards, four are randomly displayed on the touch-screen at a time and offer a variety of abilities, from an offensive laser ring around the player, to homing shots, to shield restoration and damage repairs. Players cannot cycle through the cards, and in order to get new ones, at least one current card must be used. In this way, the game offers an unusual strategy element to the shooter gameplay--careful and planned use of power-up cards over simply powering up as much as possible as soon as possible.
Also different is the level set-up. There are three "final" stages at the corners of a triangular grid which make up the final stages. The stages themselves are laid out somewhat like a keyboard labeled with letters A~L, and a player may start at any stage. However, continuing through the game requires a player to select an adjacent stage from the completed first.
A final "game ending" stage can only be played once an adjacent stage has been completed. In this way, players may play for as long or as short as they wish. With games encompassing several stages, or just a couple. This longer game option even allows players to replay a completed stage--but it will automatically be at a higher difficulty. In this way, a player's game could be as short as two stages (a regular and a final) or as long as 37 (all regular three times, and one final).
In a vain similar to the dark, nigh-genocidal story behind titles like Ikaruga, the story here is a bleak melodrama focused on ethnic rivalries and the incomprehensible nature of humans. The similarity is likely due to the game sharing the same director (Hiroshi Iuchi) as Ikaruga. No actual countries are named, rather, they are listed by letters with "Country A" and "Country I." The story is played out in largely text-based cut-scenes with dark background imagery. The text itself carries a militaristic flavor to it, further adding to the melodrama of the story.
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