Wednesday, 17 June 2015

FZ Senki Axis (X68000)

This game does what I've seen a few games on old floppy-based systems do, in that it has a fancy animated intro, which it puts on a completely seperate disk that's not needed to play the game. So theoretically, you don't even need to skip the cutscene, you can just throw it away never to be seen again. It's not a terrible one, though, it's fairly atmospheric and sets the scene I guess.

Anyway, FZ Senki Axis, then. It's an isometric shooting game by Wolfteam, specialists in making games that seem like they're licenced from late 80s OAVs, but actually aren't. In the case of FZ Senki Axis, it feels a lot like the Votoms spin-off Armour Hunter Mellowlink, except you're in a mecha, and poor old Mellowlink was always on foot with his trusty rifle. Each stage sees the player hunting down a certain number of specific target enemies, which tend to be bigger or faster than the regular drones (or both).

Despite every stage having the same overall mission, they still manage to be varied. Not only are the stages set in a variety of different environments, with war-torn cities, countryside battlefields, desert ruins, and so on, but there's gimmicks to them, too. Like one stage has the player in a dark cave, seeking out gun turrets hidden in murky pools of water, and another takes a break from the wide open spaces that are the norm, and has the player storming an enemy base, fighting security systems in corridors. The bossfights are even more varied, with heavily armed war-trains, a pair of fast elite mecha who seem to be inspired by Gundam's Black Tri-Stars and so on.

It's not all good, though. For starters, the difficulty is totally unforgiving, and it'd be hard to blame players for giving up after being quickly destroyed on their first go. The other side of that coin, however, is that the difficulty can really ramp up the tension, leading situations like a player on their last point of health trying to hunt down the stage's last target before getting taken out by a drone. Another problem is a smaller one, and I almost feel as if I'm nitpicking when I bring it up: the fact that there's no kind of acknowledgement when walking over different types of terrain. It's most noticable in the countryside stage, where the player's mech just walks over fields, bridges and water alike, as if the world was one of those carpets with roads and stuff printed on it. All it would have taken would have been a tiny splashing effect around the feet to enhance the experience so much more. But like I said, it's a tiny thing, and I feel silly bringing it up.

FZ Senki Axis is still a good game, and you should definitely give it a try if you think you can handle it. Even if you don't, you could try the Mega Drive port, which is mostly the same, but a lot easier.

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