<table> <tr> <td class=headerlogo> <p class=image><a href="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net" target="_parent"><img src="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/logo/hg101logo.png" alt="Logo by MP83"></a></p> </td> <td> <table class=headerright> <tr> <td class=headermenu> <a href="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/alpha.htm" target="_parent">Articles</a> | <a href="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/features.htm" target="_parent">Features</a> | <a href="http://blog.hardcoregaming101.net" target="_parent">Blog</a> | <a href="http://hg101.proboards.com/" target="_parent">Forums</a> | <a href="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/about.htm" target="_parent">About</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hardcore-Gaming-101/109837535712670" target="_blank"><img alt=" " src="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/facebook.png"></a>&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/HG_101" target="_blank"><img alt=" " src="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/twitter.png"></a> </td> <td class=searchbox> <form action="http://www.google.com/cse" id="cse-search-box" target="_parent"> <div> <input type="hidden" name="cx" value="partner-pub-5230184257141993:xfg3mydy24k"> <input type="hidden" name="ie" value="ISO-8859-1"> <input type="text" name="q" size="30"> <input type="submit" name="sa" value="Search"> </div> </form> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.google.com/coop/cse/brand?form=cse-search-box&amp;lang=en"></script> </td> </tr> </table> <table class=headerad> <tr> <td> <script type="text/javascript"><!-- google_ad_client = "pub-5230184257141993"; /* HG101 */ google_ad_slot = "4961941287"; google_ad_width = 728; google_ad_height = 90; //--> </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js"> </script> </td> </tr> </table> </td> </tr> </table>

<<< Prior Page

Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Leynos / Target Earth
Valken / Cybernator

Page 2:
Leynos 2
Valken 2

Page 3:
Metal Warriors
Front Mission: Gun Hazard
Gigantic Army

Back to the Index


by Kurt Kalata - April 30, 2009

Yoshiyuki Tomino's Mobile Suit Gundam, a series of series about a bunch of large robots trashing each other amidst lectures about the horrors of war, is one of Japan's most phenomenally successful anime in existence, to put it lightly. Since its original broadcast in 1979, there have been dozens upon dozens of video games based on it. Yet, upon examining the Famicom library, we see... well, one fairly decent 3D-ish shooter called Hot Scramble and a whole torrent of SD Gundam strategy and/or RPG games. The Famicom was known for its huge amount of side-scrolling action games, so where the heck were the Gundam games? Although the true history is lost amidst the hidden secrets of Japanese video game companies, NCS/Masaya's Assault Suits series probably started because some mecha otaku were pissed at these developments (or, at least, corporate business folk seeing a gap in the market), and made their own Gundam game, just without the Gundam name.

The Assault Suits series is largely characterized by controlling gigantic mechs, although they're characterized on screen as about the same size as any other side-scroller. Despite their apparent bulkiness, most games give the ability to dash and fire in any direction, in addition to wielding several types of munitions, giving it a significantly different feel than similar action titles. They're also relatively plot heavy, with constant input from a dispatcher interjecting comments between levels and during gameplay. All of them are also known for their rather brutal difficulty.

There are actually two subseries that consist of the Assault Suits franchise, which is doubly confusing due to the different names during localization. The first game is Assault Suits Leynos for the Mega Drive, which was localized as Target Earth. The second is Assault Suits Valken for the Super Famicom, which became Cybernator outside of Japan. From there springs Assault Suit Leynos 2 for the Saturn and Assault Suits Valken 2 for the Playstation, neither of which were localized. All four games obviously focus on mechs and take place in the same universe, although there are significant differences between each title. This is particularly true for Assault Suits Valken 2, which ditches the sidescrolling action for turn-based strategy. There are also a few other games which are tangentially related - Square's Front Mission: Gun Hazard, which shares the same director and many of the same ideas; and Konami/Lucasarts' Metal Warriors, which may as well be an unofficial sequel to Cybernator, even though it technically has no affiliation.

Thanks to Ganelon for highlighting the Langrisser / Assault Suits connection, Hazumu for the pic, and Rob Strangman for the Assault Suits Valken censored pics.

Cybernator

Assault Suit Leynos 2 (Saturn)


Target Earth / Assault Suits Leynos / Jūsō Kihei Leynos (重装機兵レイノス) - Genesis, Wii Virtual Console (1990)

American Genesis Cover

Japanese Mega Drive Cover

In Target Earth, you control a mecha which can arm itself with up to six pieces of equipment. You start off with a standard machine gun (the only weapon to have unlimited ammo), but you also get a spread gun and a strange weapon that seems to fire chaff. Most of the missions have goals beyond simply reaching the end. In the first stage, once you reach a certain point, you need to destroy a huge battleship before it reaches your home base. In the third stage, you need to protect your battleship while bouncing around in zero-g, and make it back in time before it takes off without you. At the end of each level, you're graded on your performance, which in turn will grant you new weapons. All and all, it's a pretty sizable arsenal, with over twenty different weapons. You can also equip armor, to increase your defense, or the B-Pack, a jetpack which lets you hover in mid-air for a few seconds. In some levels, you're accompanied by some NPC helpers, giving the impression that at least you're not the only soldier on the battlefield like so many other video games, but they also tend to get killed pretty quickly.

Target Earth

It takes a good while to get used to the controls. You can't jump when walking over bumpy terrain, which is pretty much everywhere, so you'll often find yourself stumbling right into enemy fire. Your mech can technically shoot almost in any direction, but your gun reacts slowly and it takes a second or so to get your aim straight. Your standard machine gun is incredibly underpowered, and even pauses to reload after a few moments of constant fire. Your shield slowly regenerates if you manage to avoid being damaged, but even that rarely helps all that much. The enemies are fast and relentless, constantly swarming you from all sides and littering the screen with projectiles. It's such a remarkably difficult game that it's hard to really enjoy it without turning on the invincibility code, which was added to the North American release. (Just hit Start on controller 2 during play.) The graphics are pretty average for an early Genesis game, and the sound is pretty annoying and repetitive. Not a bad early effort, but definitely an acquired taste.

A small scene was removed from the North American release. The third level takes place in orbit above the Earth - once you beat it, you see one of your more unfortunate comrades end up getting left behind and burnt by the atmosphere. Strange that they'd remove it, since during the course of the level, if you yourself fly too close to it, you'll get fried as well.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Publisher:

Producer:

  • Yasumasa Shirakura

Genre:

Themes:


Target Earth (Genesis)

Target Earth (Genesis)

Target Earth (Genesis)

Target Earth (Genesis)


Additional Screenshots


View all "Target Earth" items on eBay

Cybernator / Assault Suits Valken / Jūsō Kihei Valken (重装機兵ヴァルケン) - SNES, PlayStation 2, Wii (1992)

Japanese SFC Cover

American SNES Cover

Japanese PS2 Cover

The second Assault Suits game is such a remarkably huge improvement that it completely shames its predecessor. The view has been moved closer, with much larger characters and far more background detail. Your mech now always has the ability to hover, and can dash too, either by hitting A or double tapping forward. The controls still take some getting used to, especially since there's a split second delay whenever you jump, and it's too easy to accidentally start a dash, which can't be cancelled. But the best addition is the ability to lock your firing direction by holding the L button, which makes things much, much easier. You can also use a shield by hitting the R button, which can protect you from practically any projectile. This is particularly useful, especially since your mech is so big, making it an easy target.

You start out with a standard Vulcan cannon - much more powerful than the pea shooter from Target Earth - as well as a standard punch attack. You can also find secondary items like missiles, lasers, and homing rockets. These only appear once each during the course of the game, but once you find them, they're never taken away, although they do have limited ammo. Throughout each level are P icons, which will power up your currently equipped weapon if you grab enough. The Vulcan is pretty useful even on its own, especially since the bullets reflect off any surface, and it turns into a mech wrecking machine once powered up to the third level.

The levels, while technically linear, are fairly wide open, so there's no real direct route to the end of each stage. You can bring up a map at any time to see your basic surroundings too. It's definitely to your benefit to explore and find power-ups, and especially the additional weapons, because they're easy to miss otherwise. Some levels also have secondary objectives, like destroying the boss in the first stage within a certain time limit. The game will still continue if you fail these, but if you screw up too many of them, you'll get a crappy ending.

Cybernator

Masaya also put a lot of subtle care in both the graphical details and level designs. Most of the stages begin with some kind of launch sequence, whether you're flying through an asteroid belt, skiing through the snow, or descending from orbit down to the Earth, which really gives the impression that you're on a military mission instead of simply jumping from stage to stage. Every time your shots hit a surface, it leaves a small burn mark. When you stomp through a hallway, blowing up gun turrets and massacring tiny human soldiers, it adds to the satisfying feeling of destruction. Like its predecessor, each stage begins with a mission briefing which outlines the level layout, with your friends radioing you orders and advice throughout the stage. They'll give you a warning when you're low on health, but it's really cool the way they begin to yell out your name, in text, right as your mech explodes in a huge white flash. The music is pretty damn catchy too. It's definitely aspects like these that cement Cybernator as an SNES classic.

Konami published this title in North America under the name Cybernator. For some reason, they removed the portraits by the dialogue (even though they still appear unaltered in the intro) and significant chunks of text. including several supporting characters, and a hidden message after the credits. It's a bit lame, considering the character designs were provided by Satoshi Urushihara, who also did Masaya's Langrisser series. One scene was removed completely, where your mech flies into an office and meets up with a corporate official, who proceeds to take out a pistol and blow his pixellated little head off. Obviously such brutal suicide would not have gone over well with the censors at Nintendo of America. You can find a fan translation patch for Assault Suits Valken which lets you play the unedited game in English.

In 2004, Assault Suits Valken was ported to the PlayStation 2 by X-Nauts (the remnants of Psikyo) and published under a budget label. While largely the same game on the surface, the visuals now run in a higher resolution, and all of the sprites and backgrounds have been polished a bit. They don't necessarily look better, though - in fact, it just looks like everything was upscaled and then repainted, as opposed to being completely redrawn, so it seems a bit cheap. It seems to control right on the surface, but the direction lock functionality has been changed - instead of maintaining both the trajectory and direction, it only fixes the trajectory, so you can no longer move backwards while firing forwards, which is a stupid, stupid change. The balance has also been altered for the worse, so enemies take much more damage, and your own mech is significantly more frail. (Good luck getting past even the simple scrolling section in the second stage!) There's a new "stage 0" which acts as a prelude, but it's terribly brief. The music also somehow sounds substantially worse than the SNES version. In other words, it's a shoddy port all around, and should be avoided. It was only released in Japan and Europe.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Publisher:

Producer:

  • Toshiro Tsuchida

Genre:

Themes:


Cybernator (SNES)

Cybernator (SNES)

Assault Suit Valken (PS2)

Assault Suit Valken (PS2)


Additional Screenshots


Comparison Screenshots


Censored Scenes


View all "Cybernator" items on eBay

<<< Prior Page

Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Leynos / Target Earth
Valken / Cybernator

Page 2:
Leynos 2
Valken 2

Page 3:
Metal Warriors
Front Mission: Gun Hazard
Gigantic Army

Back to the Index