Monday, 22 September 2014

Toyrobo Force (Game Boy Advance)

For some reason, shooting games seem to be something of an underrepresented genre on handheld consoles, especially on post-2000 handhelds (though having said that, the PSP has a pretty strong line-up, even if it is mostly ports). So obviously, when I found out there was a GBA shooter that I hadn't played, I had to give it a try.

I'll be kind, and talk about the positive parts of the game first. Most of the game's positives stem from its presentation: in-game it looks great, with a very friendly, colourful pallette that's somewhat reminiscent of cartoons aimed at the very young. Everything's well-drawn and very detailed considering they low resolution of th GBA screen, and there's cute little touces, like cows in fields that run away when the player shoots at them. The TV cartoon presentation continues between stages, with eyecatches appearing before and after each stage. The character designs are all okay, though a little bland, and unfortunately, most of the enemies are pretty generic.

As for the game itself, it's a vertically scrolling shooting game, with the inclusion of a Xevious-style bomb weapon, which is actually a pretty rare thing in modern shooters. The player controls a police robot on a flying motorbike, and they fly upwards, shooting the generic enemies, and bombing turrets and tanks on the ground. Sometimes during the stage, a criminal will appear, in the form of a mini-bossfight, after which the defeated perp will be left lying on the ground dazed for the player to pick up. The coolest example of this is actually in the first stage, which takes place in a town centre, and has the criminal running around on the ground, avoiding and hiding from the player's bombs and so on.

This all sounds pretty good, right? It's okay, but there are some massive flaws in this game. Firstly, the player only gets limited ammunition for each stage, which can leave no onther choice than just commiting suicide since obviously, having no weapons in a shooter makes things pretty much unwinnable. Secondly, the stages don't just flow into each other, but between them, there are sections in which characters talk to each other, and the player has to go to different buildings to talk to characters in the right order to be able to go to the next stage.

Although the fact that I can't read Japanese makes this more of an exercise in trial and error than it would be for someone who could, even if the game has Englishtext, I'd hate this. I've spoken before, ironically at great length, about how much I hate games that interrupt the player's fun for lengthy sections of usually terrible storytelling. If a game is exceptionally good, or in very rare cases, if the story is actually interesting or entertaining, it can make sitting through these parts worthwhile, but Toyrobo Force definitely doesn't fulfill the first condition, and though I can't read the text, I feel confident that the story is no great saga for our times, either.

If you really want to play a shooting game on your GBA, you'd be much better off going with Gradius Advance/Galaxies, a game that is better than Toyrobo Force in pretty much every possible way.

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