Review by TheSAMMIES

"This is about giant robots and bad enemy design. What did you think this game was about stalking people?"

Mad Stalker sure does get a lot of attention due to its name! “Oh, I play as a mad stalker! I'm going to follow pretty girls home and watch them undress!” No. That is not what this game is about. This is really just a beat ‘em up that involves giant robots and has street fighter style inputs for special moves. It's not a very good beat ‘em up either, as it has a lot of problems. Poor enemy design, floaty controls, an overly long and boring opening movie… This is not a very good game.

Of note, the Turbo CD version of Mad Stalker is actually an enhanced remake of the original X68000 Mad Stalker. While the improvements are there, they don't actually fix any of the game's problems. Redbook audio is nice and makes the game a lot of fun to listen to. Two new playable characters are cool and add a bit of depth to the gameplay. While these things are nice, they don't change anything as far as bad controls and terribly designed enemies go. Mad Stalker is still the flawed game it was back on the X68000 and even though there was a conscious effort to make the game better, it is still not very good.

Story- The opening movie for this game in unbearable. You get seven solid minutes of two people at their desks talking to each other with no music and very little animation. The quality of this is so poor that some scenes don't even have backgrounds. Did the developers just sort of run out of time or money when making this thing? Anyway, the main story involves three mecha pilots out to go stop an army of evil robots from destroying the city. There isn't much more plot than that. You get three robots and their respective pilots. The guy in the blue robot is a calm and collected Hispanic guy with a smoking habit. The guy in the yellow robot is a cocky, loud, and arrogant American stereotype. The red robot is piloted by a clumsy rookie girl who is still learning the ropes. That's about as far as characterization goes.

Presentation- Mad Stalker is a pretty good looking game as far as Turbo CD games go. As poorly as the enemies are designed, they at least look good. There's some good enemy variety too. In the first level alone, you get to fight small giant robots with giant guns, cute giant robot bunnies that have an annoying habit of getting stuck to you, green robots that know kung-fu, and flying robots with giant bazookas. All of them look cool and took a lot of inspiration from the sci-fi anime that was popular at the time the game was released. Backgrounds look nice and detailed too. You can practically see the cityscapes in the earlier levels come alive! There's even a bit of interaction too, as you can step on cars and ruin people's days.

The music has changed a little. It's all the same tunes from the original X68000 version, but remixed. You can still hear a lot of the synthesizer that was always present in the X68000 game, but it's mixed in with rock music. It actually sounds good, a lot like 80s power rock, actually. I really enjoyed listening to this game more than playing it.

Gameplay- Mad Stalker looks like it should be a good game. Just going around as the blue robot and pulling out a huge gun that's larger than yourself and blasting other robots sounds fun, doesn't it? You even get two new robots, a tall yellow one with a sword and a fat red one that can zip around all over the place. How can someone take a concept like “super powered gun/sword/speed robot saves the world” and screw it up?

The first problem, and probably the most pervasive problem in the game is the poor enemy design. Okay, so the enemies may look good, but they are bad to fight against. The most basic enemy, short giant robot, is too short for most of your attacks to hit. Have you ever played King of Fighters? There's a character in there named Choi who is short, so short that high attacks won't hit him, so you have to figure out how to fight him using only medium and low attacks. He is annoying and I hate fighting him. A good portion of enemies in Mad Stalker are like this. Most of your attacks don't even work on these guys.

There are also the robot bunnies. Did you ever think that you would get nibbled to death by bunnies? The bunny robots attack by jumping on you get after that they're stuck to you. They stay there for a while and keep sapping your health until you figure out how to hit them and get them off of you. It's really annoying and you fight a ton of them. Bosses are at least okay, if a bit monotonous. They're all basically the same as every beat ‘em up boss. Hit them a lot, knock them down, and then jump away before they can counterattack. Repeat until the health bar is gone.

The controls are bad too. For a giant robot, you move really wonky, like your giant robot joints were coated in mayonnaise. Jumping makes you just kind of float around a bit, like the whole game is set underwater. The same goes for knocking enemies back and getting knocked back by enemy attacks. It is very annoying, even if you're using the fast red robot.

There's also a VS mode that turns Mad Stalker into a really slow Street Fighter II style game. It's not very good and has a small roster. You and your friend will probably get bored with it. While I normally like old school fighting games, this one is pretty bad. The robots in this game were designed to be in a beat ‘em up, not a fighting game and it shows. Your attacks have no range, like you have to be directly in your opponent's face just to land one basic punch and getting knocked back means having to plod all the way to the other side of the screen to get back to your opponent. Remember how I said that the game plays like everything is underwater? It still does that, even when you're in the fighting game mode.

So, how many times did I use the word “annoying” when describing the gameplay of Mad Stalker? I said it four times, but that's not the point. Do you really want to play something annoying? Wouldn't you rather play something fun and exciting? Mad Stalker is neither of those things. If you're looking for a good beat ‘em up on the Turbo CD, look elsewhere.

That's not to say Mad Stalker isn't a fun game. You can have fun with it if you try to ignore all of its flaws. Just try to be optimistic. Poor enemy design isn't a flaw, it's a challenge! It means that I have to squat down to kick those knee-high robots! It means I have to be sure to never get hit by those dumb bunnies. It means that I have to adapt to the bizarre and unintuitive physics. If you're willing to put up with all of that, Mad Stalker can be a fun ride, but just be warned that reality will kick in sooner or later and you will be wishing that you were playing a better game before the end.

Cool Fact- The X68000 version of this game had the subtitle “Full Metal Forth” on the box. The Turbo CD version fixed it to “Full Metal Force”. Maybe the marketing team took a few English classes between games?

Also Try- Kogado, the same guys who made this game, also came out with the visual novel Symphonic Rain. It's a beautiful story and a great all-ages VN for anyone who wants to play something by these guys that's actually good. If you want a beat ‘em up that involves giant robots, there's Armored Warriors. It's an arcade exclusive release, but it is one of the best beat ‘em ups Capcom ever came out with. If you want a game that's actually about stalking people, there's Biko, but just be warned that it's a disturbing rape game and will make you feel icky for playing it.

Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 10/28/13

Game Release: Mad Stalker: Full Metal Force (JP, 09/15/94)

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