Publisher: TDK Mediactive
Developer: Vicious Cycle
Release Date: 10/28/2002
Macross fans rejoice, there is finally a game based on the Robotech world that you won’t have to import! Robotech: Battlecry by TDK Mediactive is based on the first and most popular mini-series in the saga and allows you to pilot a transformable Veritech fighter in a variety of situations. Fans of the 1980s animated series will be glad to know that developer, Vicious Cycle, went to great lengths to capture that same hard-driving sense of excitement found in the show on which this game is based. But despite the inclusion of professional voice-talent, cel-shaded graphics that closely mimic the same style of art found in the anime, and the ability to transform between three unique Veritech modes at will, the title still comes off as an average mech game with bland objectives and sloppy play-control, though it is not without its occasional high-moments.
You’ll play the part of Jack Archer, pilot for the Robotech Defense Federation and all-around good guy. The goal of this global agency is to protect a downed alien ship that struck earth ten years prior. This alien ship was codenamed the SDF-1 and its origins were unknown until the aliens discovered the location of their crashed ship. The story begins with a sequence that pits you against the giant-sized alien race known as the Zentraedi as they execute a surprise attack on earth. These are powerful aliens you are dealing with here so it is only appropriate that your Veritech fighter is decked out with an impressive arsenal of offensive weapons and tactical maneuvers. The Veritech that you’ll control is capable of transforming into three distinct forms: a jet fighter, a half-jet half bi-pedal mech, and a agile battloid automaton. In order to transform you need only to push a certain direction on the D-pad. You’ll find that different Veritech forms will either help or hinder your ability to progress: certain situations call for different methods of approach. Not to worry though, transforming between these different mech variants will seem like second nature in not time.
You’ll become accustomed to switching between forms based on the lay of the land, so to speak. For example, the jet/mech hybrid is a good form to take on ground-based missions since it can move vertically, hover, and is fairly agile considering its capabilities, but you’ll occasionally need to transform into Battloid mode in order to squeeze off some precision shots in sniper mode. However, in high-speed space missions the jet form is the best way to go since it has the fastest acceleration, speed, and can easily dodge incoming missiles using barrel rolls. While any form can be taken at any time during the game it is recommended that you become familiar with the current stage and determine which form could be best utilized, and stick with it, otherwise you’ll quickly learn the intricacies of the “retry” function.
The missions in Robotech can be essentially grouped into two categories: high-flying space missions and claustrophobic missions on sparsely populated city streets. The basic premise of each type of stage is the same: blow up the opponents, protect the allies, or both. Homing missiles or your cannons will be your main source of protection but barrel rolls and strafing will also be essential to staying alive, using the C-stick you can rotate between enemy targets. The game is heavily reliant on auto-aiming, and it works for the majority of the time but occasionally you’ll be auto-locked on an opponent that flies directly over you which forces you to either target another enemy or use the games sluggish maneuvering to continue to chase the locked-on alien.
The weapons in Robotech: Battlecry get the job done but are far from impressive. Each form you take will have a primary and secondary weapon, ammo is unlimited but requires time to recharge. The primary weapon is something akin to a machine gun and the secondary weapons are the same “drunken missiles” found in the show, which can be locked-on to multiple enemies by holding down the jelly-bean-shaped X-button while moving your targeting reticule over multiple baddies in the same style as Rez or Panzer Dragoon.
While the game play is a tad too slow-paced and the objectives are somewhat generic considering the exciting subject matter, fans of the series should find a few things to like with Robotech: Battlecry. Visually, the game looks great as far as the ship designs and character models are concerned but the environments, particularly the city landscapes, lack detail and an adequate amount of polish, they look like quickly-constructed props whose purpose is to serve as place-keepers until the real graphics are added. The between-mission cut-scenes, which are static images overlaid with narration, don’t really feel like they share any similarities with the show on which they are based but on their own merits are pretty cool-looking. When contrasted against the previously released Xbox and PS2 ports, this version is nearly identical, side-by-side comparisons reveal slightly sharper textures than the PS2 versions by it is hardly distinguishable.
Aurally, Battlecry misses the mark, the various in-game orchestrations are not even remotely related to the series’ tunes and while they do fit nicely with the on-screen action they are by and large completely forgettable. Voice acting is high-quality stuff but nothing that will win the voice-actors any critical acclaim. Sound effects purport a high-sense of excitement but are not varied enough to remain entertaining.
Overall, Robotech: Battlecry will have a hard time appealing to anyone but die-hard fans of the series, and even then, it is unlikely that it will stay entertaining for more than a few hours. The visual style of the game is a nice digital representation of the Robotech universe but the boring mission objectives, sluggish game play, and lackluster voice-acting relegate this title to slightly-above-average status. Rent before you buy.