Review by discoinferno84

Reviewed: 08/07/04

Chicks dig fighting robots...

Ever since I finished Custom Robo, all I’ve been hearing about is Gotcha Force. For some reason, this game has quite a following among Gamecube owners. At first, I assumed it was because of the fact that this game is so rare. But once I tracked down a copy of Gotcha Force, was able to see and appreciate why this obscure game had made such an impact on its fans. This game takes just about all we love about fighting robots and adds that wacky Japanese anime element to create a unique and fun gaming experience.

For those of you that absolutely need a deep, involved story in your games, I’d suggest you’d stop reading right about now. Gotcha Force sports one of the most clichéd coming-of-age anime adventure plots that many of us have seen time and again. You play as Kou, an adolescent that has recently moved into town. On a class field trip, he stumbles across G Red, a toy-sized Gotcha Borg with awesome fighting capabilities. We don’t know very much about Kou, except that he’s pretty gullible. Apparently, this strange little robot has convinced the innocent young man that the evil Death Force has arrived to take over planet Earth! And before you can say lacking plot, Kou is whisked away on the adventure of a lifetime, saving the Earth from the Death Force and its maniacal leader, the Galactic Emperor. Only Kou and his band of rag tag Gotcha Force buddies can make a stand and save the planet!

Okay, so maybe we can just ignore the story. Instead emphasizing what could have been a salvageable plot and some character development, we are immediately thrust into our very first Gotcha Force battle. If you’ve ever played Custom Robo or just about any other mech game, you’ll recognize the gameplay setup immediately. You’ve got your very own tiny Gotcha Borg at your fingertips, one of many technically advanced fighting machines. These little action figures come with more than just a kung fu grip. They have lasers, swords, cannons, tractor beams, drills, flamethrowers, and just about anything else that the game designers’ sick little minds could come up with. You can unlock and collect ‘em all, thus fleshing out an enormous collection of deadly robots. Also, you’re going to meet Kou’s elementary school classmates, all of whom seem to be proficient killers and excellent marksmen. With tons of characters just waiting to join your cause, you’ll have plenty battles ahead of you.

Once you’ve assembled your Force of varied robots, it’s time for you to teach the Death Force whom they’re messing with. Of course, taking on any world-dominating league of evil involves facing some pretty steep odds. You’ll be facing dozens of baddies throughout each battle, each of them ready to blast your Gotcha Borg into oblivion. For some reason, the Death Force has situated all of their military strength in Kou’s humble little town instead of expanding throughout the major cities of commerce and economy. Maybe they want to start small…In any case, you must fight evil everywhere in town, from the park playground to the Kou’s school. When you start a battle, your vantage point will be shrunk down to G Red’s miniature perspective, making even the most mundane objects seem huge. See that tennis ball on the ground there? You might want to use that for cover. What about those annoying snipers on the edge of that giant chair? When you’re in the thick of battle, it’s easy to miss that everything in the enormous battlefields are really just everyday objects, just blown up to occasionally ridiculous proportions.

However, chances are that you’ll never get the opportunity. The AI in Gotcha Force is can be pretty tough in later battles. If you don’t spend some time making up your Force before a battle, you may get annihilated in seconds. But the difficulty of this game can’t be just attributed to the AI. Unfortunately, there is a huge flaw that can make your epic fight a headache. While the combat and controls are solid, the camera angles are horrendous. Instead of incorporating an overhead view our first person perspective, the camera is fixed on your Gotcha Borg throughout the fight. That means if you perform a quick dash attack, the camera angle will go wild and suddenly move, leaving you disoriented in combat. If you pull off a three hit combo, the camera suddenly zooms out and lets you enjoy the dramatic third blow. Even though it has a fair amount style, it can also leave you lost and dizzy as you try to make sense of the battle. Unless you pay attention to your surroundings, you’ll likely be blasted away for keeping your guard down.

But even if you can’t make sense of where you’re going sometimes, you can still get a clear look at the battlefield. Gotcha Force features the infamous cel shaded graphics that can either make or break its appeal. Thankfully, the cartoonish graphics are implemented nicely, taking after the Japanese anime style. Kou and all of his little friends sport the anime signature spiky hairdos and large eyes. But it’s the detail of the robots that takes up all the attention. You’ve got dozens of fighters just itching to take out the Death Force scum. Each of these robots has some decent detail, from their multicolored metal shells to their fine-tuned weaponry. Even though these graphics lack the realism of many other mech games, Gotcha Force still pulls it off nicely.

And even if the game lacks that realistic polish that we’ve come to enjoy, the audio quality is something to consider. This game has a varied and enjoyable soundtrack, much more emphasized and dramatic than that found in Custom Robo. But what ultimately hurts this game is the voice acting. I mean, is it really that hard to make the transition from Japanese to English dialogue without that much trouble? Even though the lines are written with precision, the actual voices lack any emotion whatsoever. Instead of yelling “Argh!” when hit, it sounds like “Ah.” It’s like the kids were all drugged with Ritalin before the game started. And since the characters feel obligated to talk during most of the battle, you’ll be fully aware of their repressed emotions no matter how much you try to focus on the fight at hand.

But despite a few problems, Gotcha Force is still a solid action/fighting game for your collection. For all of those who enjoy mech games, excellent multiplayer, and collecting objects, you’ll feel right at home with this game. That goes for all of you looking for an alternative to Custom Robo, too. And even though you won’t get much story out of Kou and his robotic misadventures, you’ll be rest assured that your gaming experience will be chock full of fun and intense battles. And even though Gotcha Force is said to be rare, tracking down a copy of this game is well worth the search. But don’t just get it for the rarity. Get it for the fun.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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