Review by Storm Shadow
"No matter what many say, Gun Hazard does justice to its Front Mission name"
Released in 1996, Squaresoft's Front Mission Gun Hazard is a side scrolling shooter based on the long running Front Mission series. Thus, you probably know what to expect here: intense giant robot battles ( the robots are called panzer here ) filled with lots of customization and some RPG elements thrown in.
They are not as good as the first SNES Front Mission, but they are still quite detailed and realistic. You start with a small, cuboid looking robot, but, as the game progresses, it is possible to buy better and bigger robots, whose design is impeccable. All the non-playable characters and enemies are very well projected as well.
The sound is ok and puts you inside the action. Both the music and sound effects are not memorable, but, nevertheless, they will not bother you either. They are just average.
Gun Hazard takes place in 2064. The main character is Albert Grabner and he is to prevent that a space station _ actually, a giant tower_ becomes a military fortress in the hands of the rebel army of Colonel Ark Halbland. The station has been abandoned since 2024 and it represents a strategic advantage to whoever takes possession of it.
Certainly, things do not stay that simple, since there are lines, lines and more lines of dialogue throughout the game. But...well, everything is in Japanese . And as my Japanese skills are very limited I don’t know very well how the story progresses. Anyway, the hundreds of dialogues can be skipped by pressing the ‘start’ button, so it does not become a hassle at any point.
This is not a strategy RPG as other Front Mission titles, it is a side scrolling shooter, and this is the reason why this game is so underrated. For the first ten minutes or so, you would be forgiven for dismissing Gun Hazard as just another dull shooter. Stick with it for longer, though, until you get better weapons and robots and the game reveals itself to be an awesome action game filled with options.
You can choose your main and secondary weapons. You have shields, armors and jet packs that you have to buy and upgrade. Each part of your robot has its own experience and increases its quality the more you use it. For instance, your laser beam will have more ammunition and will reload faster the more you use it. Have an armor equipped for a long time and its HP will raise, and so on. Also, you don’t have to stay inside of your 20-ton robot all the time. Your pilot can get out of the panzer at any time, and continue the stage on foot. Very interesting, indeed.
But, of course, there is much more. There are auxiliary characters_ panzers controlled by the computer_ to aid you during the stages, and each of them has unique abilities. For example, in a certain point you will need a force field kind of character to stay in front of you and protect you from a mortal blow. Discovering which character will help you more in certain stages certainly adds a lot to the gameplay.
Controlling your mech around the stages will require some good skills. The controls are complicated and hard to master, for your robot has many different moves, but, once you learn the controls, they will work ok.
This game is long ( it took me around 20 hours to finish it ) and hard, although it never becomes frustrating. Picking up the best ally and finding the best weapons for each occasion is very challenging. Near its end, especially, this game becomes really difficult. The last boss is incredibly tough, one of the hardest I have seen in games of this genre.
The replay value is very decent as well. There were some characters and weapons that I did not even use the first time around.
Overall ( not an average ) : 8/10
This is an above average side scrolling shooter featuring the really cool Front Mission panzers. Many would consider this sequel inferior to the other games of the series, but I’d rather consider it a refreshing break from those turn based games. Don't overlook it just because it is not a strategy game. This one deserves to be checked out.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 07/08/01, Updated 03/04/02
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