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Metal Warriors
Front Mission: Gun Hazard
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Inspired Games:

Metal Warriors - SNES (1995)

American SNES Cover

Metal Warriors is not officially part of the Assault Suits series, but it's easy to see where the confusion might come in. Konami published both Cybernator and Metal Warriors in North America, leaving gamers to assume that the latter was simply a sequel to the former under a different name, similar to Konami's shenanigans with Gradius and Life Force. All of the Assault Suits games were designed in Japan, while Metal Warriors was developed in North America by LucasArts, including most of the same team as Zombies Ate My Neighbors, also published by Konami. Metal Warriors was never published in Japan (although many false rumors pointed the game being called "Assault Suits Gideon") and was never intended to be a continuation of the series, although its inspiration is clear. It's a bit of shame, though, because it's a far better followup to Assault Suits Valken than any of its official sequels.

Metal Warriors

Despite its American origin, Metal Warriors adheres closely to the Japanese anime aesthetics of the Assault Suits games. In some ways, it actually improves on them, through the use of brighter colors, making it more visually attractive than the washed out, militaristic feel of Cybernator. There's no on-screen interface at all, so you can't see how long you can use your special weapons, but instead your mech shows discoloration and visible damage after taking too many hits. While somewhat imprecise, it does free up the screen from clutter, and illustrates a GUI-less ideal that could be seen in later games like Ubisoft's Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie and Electronic Arts' Dead Space.

Your mech controls similarly to Cybernator, although there's no way to lock weapon aiming (your aim resets to default once you move), the dash ability is completely gone, guns no longer need to reload, and the weaponry system is entirely different. There are now a total of six different mechs, each with three types of attacks, mapped to the various face buttons. Your primary mech, the Nitro, has a rapid fire pulse rifle, a beam sword, and unlimited hovering ability while the Havoc has a similar machine gun and a cool looking sickle, but can't fly as long nor as far. From there, the other mechs get a bit stranger. The Drache has unlimited flight ability and can fire in any direction with the face buttons. The Prometheus is a two legged mech that can't jump, but has an extremely powerful cannon and a flamethrower, as well as the ability to toss up floating air mines. The Ballistic is basically a stationary turret that only moves by turning itself into a ball (which can also be charged up to dash around the screen and damage enemies), while the Spider has many smaller legs like an arachnid and can climb up walls.

There are also special items that can either replace your main weapon, or become mounted on your shoulder, which is triggered by the L button. These only last a short time, but have unlimited ammo until they disappear. The R button also activates your shield or other similar defense mechanism.

The key point to Metal Warriors is that you can jump out of your mech, Blaster Master-style, which is required to fit through certain small spaces and hit switches to open doors. On foot, you can fire with your little peashooter and even zoom around with a jetpack. Most larger enemies won't even attack you, for whatever reason, giving you an opportunity to scout ahead, although the mech is required to break down certain walls. The cool thing is, you can also commandeer any abandoned mech you find. If your mech is damaged, you can just find an empty one, hop out of your old pile of junk, and come back fighting at full strength.

As an added bonus, there's even a fun two player versus mode, something not found in any of the proper Assault Suits games. The only major mark against Metal Warriors is that its level designs aren't quite up to par with Cybernator. Most are simply a series of vaguely maze-like corridors (the map function returns, thankfully), and it's missing a lot of the setpieces that really helped set Cybernator apart. Otherwise, it's a fantastic game. Given that it's a late generation SNES game that didn't receive much attention, it's a bit expensive on the used games market. The developers also apparently planned a sequel/port for the Game Boy Advance, although unfortunately nothing ever came of it.

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  • Mike Ebert
    Dean Sharpe

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Metal Warriors (SNES)

Metal Warriors (SNES)

Metal Warriors (SNES)

Metal Warriors (SNES)

Metal Warriors (SNES)


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Front Mission: Gun Hazard (フロントミッションシリーズ ガンハザード) - Super Famicom, Wii Virtual Console (1996)

Japanese SFC Cover

Front Mission: Gun Hazard is a side-scrolling action RPG that borrows heavily from the Assault Suits series. This makes sense, considering Toshiro Tsuchida, the director of the mainline Front Mission games, worked on Cybernator with Masaya prior to joining Square. Although it bears little resemblance to the tactical strategy like the rest of the Front Mission series, it does feature similar aesthetics, including character artwork by Yoshitaka Amano, as well as a healthy mixture of RPG elements. At the same time, the visual appearance is so close that some of the graphics may as well have been ripped straight out of Cybernator, even if the sprites aren't quite as large nor as detailed.

The controls are very similar to the Assault Suits series, complete with the usual aiming abilities, dash boosts, defense techniques and so forth. Your gun even needs a second or two to reload, just like Cybernator. The game has a fairly expansive and detailed plot, as you control a soldier named Albert Grabner defending the remnants of his empire. Most levels are fairly short, although there are a large number of them, with over ninety missions in total. This makes it a huge game in comparison to the seven or eight stages usually found in Assault Suits games. It's also a fair bit easier, considering you can grind for equipment.

You move from location to location via an overhead map screen, and you can revisit old locations if you wish to power-up. Every enemy you kill grants experience, which in turn powers up your mech. You also gain money, which can be used to buy new weapons, shields, or parts. There are five different mech types and over a dozen add-ons, including hard knuckles, flamethrowers, missile launchers, wireless gunpods and other nifty bits of machinery. You don't start off with a jet pack, although you can eventually purchase one. The mech customization isn't nearly as sophisticated as the other Front Mission games, but it is more sophisticated than most of the other Assault Suits games, save for perhaps Leynos 2. Although you can go through missions alone, you can also hire an AI-controlled partner to accompany you. At times, you can also jump out of your mech and run around on foot, but this will usually get you crushed pretty quickly, so it's not as cool as in Metal Warriors.

While there are some good ideas in Gun Hazard, especially with the arsenal of weapons, parts and wanzer types, the level designs are pretty unremarkable. As a result, most of the focus is strictly on the action, which isn't quite as tight as Cybernator or Metal Warriors. The best aspect is the soundtrack, a team effort by legendary composers Nobuo Uematsu (in one of his rare early appearances outside of Final Fantasy) and Yasunori Mitsuda (Chrono Trigger / Cross, Xenogears.) The sound is much more mechanical and militaristic than their usual works, even a bit low-key compared to the music in the original Front Mission, but the result is completely fantastic.

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  • Omiya Soft

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  • Hideo Suzuki

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Front Mission: Gun Hazard (SFC)

Front Mission: Gun Hazard (SFC)

Front Mission: Gun Hazard (SFC)


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Gigantic Army - Windows (2010)

by Sam Derboo - February 9, 2014

Logo

Gigantic Army is such a gigantic love letter to Cybernator it might as well be a long lost sequel. It almost doesn't show that it was made by a small team of hobby developers, albeit with a pedigree - Astro Port is well known in the doujin community for 2D traditional shoot-em-ups like Satazius.

Just like Valken, Gigantic Army prefers calculated, methodical progression over the frenetic action of other run-'n-guns, but the player-controlled giant robot feels even heavier and a bit stiffer than in the original. The controls with the freely rotating gun are also carried over, but not without a few tweaks: holding the fire button now allows to keep shooting in a fixed direction even while moving, and it is no longer necessary to switch to the melee attack, because it is activated automatically when tapping the button close to an enemy. The trusty shield is also included, although it has a limited duration, and its angle has to be adjusted properly to block incoming projectiles, too.

Also new is the choice of arms that precedes the action: The Assault Rifle is a standard machine gun with a straight shot, the Riot Gun fires a wide spread, and the explosives fired by the Grenade Gun detonate on hit, so they may damage a target even while missing it. The effectiveness of these three weapons is clearly tiered, but the better the gun, the fewer charges are available for the special weapons, which likewise consist of three choices.

Of course the limited jetpack capabilities from Assault Suits cannot be left out, even though there's not too much to do with it other than avoiding enemy bullets or reaching the occasional high plateau. There is really only one area that requires finely tuned use of the throttle, but that one is optional. Otherwise, the platforming elements remain very tame throughout, and serve mostly as a backdrop for the fighting. With cunningly placed slopes and platforms for the enemies to use to their advantage, the game never forgets to force the player to use all of the mecha's abilities to get through encounters unscathed.

On normal difficult, Gigantic Army gets quite challenging after the first two stages. It is one of the very few games where the time limit actually poses a threat. There are time limit extensions that can be picked up from destroyed boxes, alongside health recharges and weapon upgrades, but eventually getting them all becomes a necessity rather than a bonus. Without proper use of the shield and avoiding maneuvers, the war is not very likely to end well, and even though it is possible to continue three times per play, doing so always resets to the very beginning of the current stage. After finishing the game, two more difficult settings await to be unlocked. Fortunately, there is also an easy mode, where it isn't much of a problem to breeze through the story.

The narrative isn't really a good motivator to make it to the end, though. It's merely a long series of the protagonist's journal entries in between missions. Combined with the dry prose and localization issues - the text display seems to depend on system settings and may appear cropped and including some corrupt characters - and it's safe to recommend to just skip through them as fast as possible.

Gigantic Army (Windows)

It's a shame, too, because the rest of the presentation is very professional-looking. The graphics are displayed in 640x480 resolution, but the sprites are all done in pixel art. Many of them are huge, too, even though the detail is limited to sterile mechanic textures. They also are properly redrawn to hold weapons consistently in the same arm when turning around. Whenever one of these gigantic mechas is destroyed, an impressive wave of explosions follows suit. The backgrounds may not be the most varied and promote a rather limited range of colors per stage, but there are just enough neat little details to keep them interesting, like ongoing space battles or tiny cars on a freeway. The soundtrack mostly consists of inconspucious techno/industrial, the kind of music that never seems to receive much love among the retro game audience. It's befitting of the stark, cold techno world the game takes place in, though, and at least has a few interesting touches, like voice samples of men chanting.

Gigantic Army may not have the bombastic presentation, aesthetic consistency and exciting storytelling of the other Assault Suits inspired indie game, Gunhound EX, but in turn it boasts the more interesting dynamics and isn't as easily tiring. To those who prefer a more rapid pace in their action games, the slow maneuverability of the robot might quickly become the source of frustration, but mecha fans who appreciate a feeling of weight to what would be several hundred tons worth of machinery should feel right at home.

A demo of the game is available on the official homepage.

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  • Sak
    Ordan

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Gigantic Army (Windows)

Gigantic Army (Windows)

Gigantic Army (Windows)

Gigantic Army (Windows)

Gigantic Army (Windows)


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Related Articles


<<< 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