Publisher: Namco-Bandai Games
Developer: Namco-Bandai Games
Release Date: Q2 2007
Describing Eureka Seven is a difficult task. On the surface, one could call it a "mecha anime," but that simple description tends to ignore all that makes up this rather eclectic show. Built on a mix of musical theory, early '90s surfer culture and a healthy dash of bizarre mecha that are a fusion of Gundam and Evangelions, it's something that must be seen to be believed.
Flight in the world of Eureka Seven isn't as simple as it is in our world. Instead, man travels the skies by harnessing the power of "Transparence Light Particles," or trapar waves. This glowing green energy can be used to allow all sorts of things to fly through the sky. While this is used for both warfare and travel, the most popular thing to do with trapar waves is "lift," or surf on the waves using specially designed surfboards. While these boards come in human-sized forms, the primary use of them is for the humanoid mechanical weapons, known as LFO. Incapable of regular flight, these LFOs instead mimic their human pilots by surfing across the sky on trapar waves.
For those who are fans of the anime, Eureka Seven Vol. 2: The New Vision is set a few years before it begins. You take the role of Sumner, a former military LFO pilot. After a chance meeting with a mysterious girl, Sumner finds himself dissatisfied with his life in the military and eventually deserts. Listed as "killed in action," Sumner is forced to begin life anew as a pro lifter, working various odd jobs to keep himself fed. Yet, as Vol. 2 opens up, he finds himself unhappy with this seemingly carefree life. His thoughts are filled with desire to pilot an LFO one more time, and when a chance comes to win a rare Azure LFO in a contest, Sumner is pulled back into the dangerous world of LFOs.
On-foot segments in Eureka Seven are a mix of racing and combat. As a "lifter," the player has access to the lift boards that allow one to surf across the sky. When lifting, gameplay is oddly similar to something one would find in the Tony Hawk series. Players can streak across the land incredibly quickly, but in order to keep their boost gauge high and avoid the dreaded "wipeout," players must perform series of tricks. The more complex the tricks, the more boost the lifter gets back. Truly skilled players will have to discover the perfect mix of tricks and boosting to blaze through levels and achieve a maximum score.
Sadly, not everything is fun and games in Eureka Seven, and occasionally lifting gives way to fisticuffs. On foot, your pilot has access to a wide variety of hand-to-hand combat techniques, mixing wrestling techniques with acrobatics. Performing combos is simple and easy, mostly built on specific timing of your attacks. If things have to get a bit more lethal however, you have access to a wide variety of weapons. Some are simple small arms, which are effective against other humans. Other weapons, however, are best used in those unlucky situations where you have to battle an LFO on foot. Ranging from explosives to a sniper rifle, these weapons can be the difference between victory and emerging as a smear on the bottom of the enemy's metal foot.
Of course, the real fun is when you get an LFO of your own and can fight these biomechanical monsters on their terms. LFO combat is actually divided into two distinct and different types. Ground combat plays like a more complex version of the human combat. Unlike the humans, however, the LFO are heavily armed and capable of launching missiles, throwing boomerangs and firing lasers at rapid speed, and combat is always moving. One neat aspect about LFOs is that they have the ability to transform into a vehicular mode. Often resembling a sports car, these vehicular modes allow for significantly faster movement over their humanoid counterparts, although their weaponry is much harder to use. Some LFOs have specific attacks that can only be used in vehicle mode, or even while switching between the two modes.
The other form of combat takes place in the sky. Battle in the sky is significantly different, and the biggest change is in the melee combat. On the ground, melee battles are simple combo attacks, but in the sky, they become dramatic and deadly. Once you hit the "melee" button, your LFO rushes forward toward the enemy, and if you successfully manage to intercept them, the LFO enters a cinematic attack, which can be modified by various button presses to create a devastating and unavoidable combo. However, enemies can do this to your LFO as well, so sky combat becomes a game of cat and mouse; you perform tricks and boosts to lure the enemy into a trap, which allows you to unleash a deadly attack.
The biggest advantage that the player has in air combat is the "Rider's High." In an LFO, truly skilled lifters, the best of the best, have the ability to access a form of extrasensory perception called the Rider's High. This gives the pilot two major advantages. The first is that by activating the Rider's High, time slows to a crawl, allowing the LFO's pilot to perform maneuvers that would normally be impossible and to easily avoid enemy attacks. The other is called "Jamming," and it allows a pilot to break off an enemy melee combo before it is finished (impossible to do under normal circumstances), thereby stopping the full damage. Both of these attributes are governed by the Trance bar, which fills up as the pilot uses the LFO to pull off tricks. Since tricks can also be used to refill the boost gauge and avoid attacks, mastering these exciting acrobatics is the key to success in battle.
The best way one can describe Eureka Seven: Vol. 2: The New Vision is one part Zone of the Enders and one part Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. Mixing the excitement of insane 'board tricks with the thrill of fast-paced mecha combat, Eureka Seven is shaping up to be quite the interesting title. For those interested in taking a taste, Eureka Seven: Vol. 1: The New Wave is available in stores now, and Eureka Seven: Vol. 2 will be out sometime later this year.
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