Whenever we look at a game, one of the things we try to do is put it in a category and compare it to other games that have come before. Usually, this is an easy task, but every once in a while, a title comes along that simply defies categorization. Z.H.P.: Unlosing Ranger vs. Darkdeath Evilman is one of those games.
Originally known as Zettai Hero Project, the name was changed to the longer version presumably because it sounded cooler. Coming from the same developers that brought us the Disgaea, would you expect anything less?
Shown in video form at NIS America's recent press event, Z.H.P.: Unlosing Ranger vs. Darkdeath Evilman is described by the publisher as being a highly customizable grindfest. As the game's story goes, the hero of heroes, the Unlosing Ranger, was on his way to the final battle with his nemesis, the Demon General Darkdeath Evilman, when the unthinkable happened. Dood was hit by a car. As he lay there dying, the super belt of superheroes was passed on to the "weakest main character in history."
That would be you.
So, now that you're a superhero, it's up to you to defeat Darkdeath Evilman and save the world. But you suck. In order to have a chance at winning, you need to level up, customize your character and build a swank super-secret base. Oh yeah, and level up more. Because you're going to die a lot. But that's good, because every time you die, you get stronger. It seems that the game will reward dogged determination just as much as skillful playing.
As the new Unlosing Ranger, you have the ability to purchase different body parts and swap them out. Think Mega Man and Astro Boy, but a whole lot cooler. Swapping out body parts doesn't just change the look of your character; it actually changes your stats and abilities.
For example, you may come across a spike-filled area that you can't walk across. Swap out your legs with some reinforced tank treads and cruise on over those spikes like they were fluffy kittens. Another possible option is the addition of the "Third Eye." This allows you to go all Old Testament (eye-for-an-eye) on your enemies. Any spell they cast on you can be thrown right back at them. Sam Jackson would be proud.
The game's intricate upgrade system allows you to not only swap out body parts, but also upgrade those body parts with items and chip implants. As a result, you can get some fairly complex customizations as you pimp out your character to maximum awesomeness. At least that's what the developers promise.
With a randomly generated play field, you never know what you're going to be facing in combat, so it's a good idea to keep a stash of body parts banked and ready to go. There is no party to rely on, so knowing what and when to swap will likely be a big part of gameplay. Combat is turn-based, giving you a chance to plan your moves. How you move is going to be just as important as how you attack, since Z.H.P. features a hunger gauge as well as a HP gauge. The more you move around, the faster your hunger gauge depletes. You need to eat a snack to restore it. Movement cannot be completely avoided, however, because the game features a fog-of-war when in combat.
Your secret base can be as simple or as complex as you like. Building your base in an intelligent fashion is one surefire way to make your quest a little bit easier. For example, one of the more basic buildings you can add is a blacksmith. With a blacksmith shop at your base, you've always got a place to repair your weapons and armor. Another example is the Space Detective. Register your equipment with the Space Detective, and you gain the ability to swap it out at will during a battle. It's a convenient way of ensuring that you never enter combat with the wrong set of gear.
Z.H.P.: Unlosing Ranger vs. Darkdeath Evilman may not be the most traditional RPG, but it promises to be a fresh experience. If you like your games quiet and reserved, Z.H.P. may not be the game for you. For those who like to "go big" and prefer an over-the-top experience, Z.H.P. may just be the over-caffeinated adventure that you've been craving. Check out the trailer to see what we mean.
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