Review by ShyningFade
"This has been proven from the point of behavioral science!"
You just gotta love games involving children saving the world with pint sized companions. Especially robots. And it seems that most of these games have a common theme; and that is being a non-stop in-your-face at the speed of light action. Digital Crack, as I like to call it. The Gamecube has been lucky to be blessed with two great games, Custom Robo and Gotcha Force, which follow a similar formula. I like to look at these games as siblings, and in this case, i'll explain why Gotcha Force is the hotter one of the two sisters.
Working at a gamestop a few months back, I was surrounded by hundreds of thousands of games, ranging from SNES titles to PS2. And in your time at a game shop, let me tell you, you can come across the strangest games. This is most definitely one of them. I remember seeing this game come into our store, and glancing at the cover, I figured, "Well, it seems like Capcom is throwing out another one of their niche titles". I really couldn't figure out what it was, so I threw this sucker into the gamecube on display. To make a long story short, I was hooked, and took this amazing find of a game home with me the same day.
This is a game about a child who stumbles across a pint sized robot by the name of G Red, which belongs to a group of beings known as borgs, who hail from the planet mega borg. (Boy, you probably hate this game already, don't you? Bear with me, lol.) As cheesy as the storyline is, it gives the game it's flavor. Now, don't expect any high quality Final Fantasy storylines here. The point of this one is to get you from battle a, to battle b. Since you're a little kid, you'll find tons of other little pissants to join your cause, which is fighting to save the world from destruction. Blah blah blah. It's really crappy to be honest, but this is one of those games where it just doesn't matter. The gameplay is where it's at.
Speaking of gameplay, here's the section where you'll all want to pay attention. Now girls and boys, what's ultimately the point of playing a video game? To have fun, right? Well, Gotcha Force provides a pretty simplistic style of gameplay that revolves around having the twitch reflexes of a crack addict and a little bit of planning. There are 200 of these so-called Borgs in the game, each unique with their own abilities and attacks. A lot of times you'll expect to find subtle variations of the same borg in a game that boasts 200, but such is not the case. Sometimes you'll find one that seems to only have a few minor changes, but once you come to understand how those changes works, it can drastically change the play style for the said character.
Now, there are a variety of attacks, but when it comes to controls, it's pretty simple. B tends fire off a projectile attack, and unleashes a myriad of melee attacks when used up close. A is your jump button, and certain borgs can do multiple jumps or even fly (which is limited by their boost meter, although this isn't applicable to the plane-type borgs, obviously). L and R cycle through your enemies, and X is used for whatever special ability the borg may have, be it setting up a special shield or combo attack. After dishing out (or taking) a certain amount of damage, you'll see a little gear-like meter at the top of the screen begin to fill up. Once that's full, push Y to enable a boost mode, where all of your character's stats are increased, as are the rate of fire and ammo reloading times. Thats when you start to put the hurt on someone big time. Tilting the control stick in any direction lets you run, and tapping it lets you do a dash, which is good for evading on coming attacks, on the ground or in the air.
Now, while this game lacks the customization of Custom Robo when it comes to the individual borgs, it makes up for it by allowing you to create a custom team of borgs for you use. Each borg requires a set amount of "Gotcha Force energy points" to be used in battle. And after each battle, that amount increases. So at first, you'll only be able to make a team of two or three low-cost characters, or use a single expensive one. It's usually best to balance out your team with borgs that have varying abilities, but in the end it's up to you to determine the best course of action.
Borgs come in all shapes and sized, from little Ninjas, Samurai, Knights and Wanna-be cowboys to giant Dragons and Tanks. There's so much variety in this game that it can be a little overwhelming at first, but the best way to approach this game is to give each lil guy his own time. Unlike most games with hundreds of characters, each one in Gotcha Force has it's purpose, and rarely is "teh suxxors", as many of the users on our message boards like to say. And if you don't get a chance to use one in story mode since bigger and better ones keep on coming in, fret not. For if you desire to start over for whatever reason, you're able to play through once more in a new game + mode (which can also be used upon completing the game, which gives you access to new borgs on a second playthrough), where you can use all of the borgs that you've assembled throughout the past. This game has tons of replayablity to it, since you not only have 200 borgs to find, but variations of colors on each, obviously rarer than the common ones.
One of the best things about this game, is the size of the backgrounds you fight in. The areas are huge, with tons of areas to hide in. And considering the battles often flood you with enemy after enemy, it's nice to know there's a few places to catch a breather. And if the sound of being overwhelmed seems like too much, you can also have a partner in story mode to back you up. All in all, it's an insane rush of a game that can only truly be done justice by playing it. From fighting tons of little peons to trying to take that giant Battlecruiser out of the sky, to twin robots who combine to form an even bigger menace, the challenges that this game provides is extraordinary. You'll want to keep switching up your group to see what can best handle any situation. All in all, the gameplay, while similar in to Virtual On and Custom Robo, completely blows the competition away.
You have a story mode which is as bare bones as you can get, a sort of competition mode where you're sent off against a gauntlet of enemies with a set amount of gotcha points, and even a versus mode when you can duke it out with your friends Splitscreen. It's great fun, but it's a shame that this game didn't have LAN support. There's just too much going on at once, and with the zany camera, makes it pretty difficult to play splitscreen.
This is the icing on an already appetizing cake. Colors are extremely bright, and each of the borgs is designed VERY well, some of which are classy enough to star in their own games if Capcom ever felt the need for a spin-off or two. Im surprised Capcom never used enemies like these in the Mega Man games. Speaking of Mega Man, Gotcha Force seems to pay homage to past titles with sound effects and similar designs, Which makes the experience that much sweeter if you're an avid Capcom fan.
As i've mentioned before, the backgrounds are large, and very well made. For the most part, you'll usually fighting in arenas such as your bedroom, playroom, and outside, which look pretty impressive since you're viewing the action from a tiny little robot's perspective in a third person view. Bullet holes litter the environment as you fire about, which is a nice little touch. Weapon attacks and explosions are crisp and well done, but at times, you might get overwhelmed by the amount of crap going on the screen at one time. It might take a little while to get used to, but the way they presented it really adds to the experience of the game. Characters are all drawn anime style, with the main character looking like Ken Master's bastard child. It's stereotypical anime at it's finest, but since this was in fact developed as a kids game, it's good to have easy to interpret characters in a game like this. Not like the story mode really matters, though...
Since i'm drawing a lot of comparison between the two, let me bring Custom Robo up again. Both of these games share a similar music style, in the fact that they're aiming for a trance/techno/dance-ish futuristic sound. However, Gotcha Force does it better in my opinion. My absolute favorite song in this game comes from the Force select screen. It starts out with an annoying little electronic fanfare, but then busts into this bass-filled trance song which is just too catchy. Battle music is memorable, and accompanies the game nicely. There are no muffled fanfares or interludes, and explosions, while loud, don't become excessively loud as in Custom Robo. An amazing overall presentation for sound, if it weren't for the...
Voice acting. By god, I swear they must have hired seven year olds for this game. Thankfully, it's all VERY hilarious (although inadvertently most of the time) to hear these comments. Such as the one used at my review tagline. G Red also has some classic lines, such as his confused grunt and "woo!" which he spouts out from time to time. It's so bad, it's funny. For some odd reason, there's an option to lower the voice volume, but I can't seem to get it to work for me. Funny stuff regardless. Just please, don't take it seriously or your ears will implode from the lack of quality voice acting. On the bright side, hiring kids to play the role of kids in a game does make sense, so i'll give them props for that.
This is one of those games that 99% of the gaming populace will pass by without even giving it a second look. Tons of reviewers have dubbed this game as being too "kiddy" to enjoy, and make it out to sound like it's about as much fun as flossing your rear end with barbed wire. Most people won't give this game a fair review, and accept it for what it is - a game where you can have honest to goodness FUN. So many good games are being ignored due to the mainstream influx of videogames, and thats why I feel the need to inform others about this classic. It definitely wins sleeper hit of the year award in my book, so do yourself a favor. Push that kiddy-phobia back down your throat, sit down, and have a blast. It's not the perfect game due to the camera and kiddy appeal, but it's damn close to it. So getcha groove on.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
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