Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Shinseiki Evangelion: Battle Orchestra (PS2)

Considering what a huge merchandising juggernaut Neon Genesis Evangelion is, it's surprising that not a single one of the videogames based on it (as far as I'm aware) has ever been released outside Japan. The might have something to do with the fact that despite being a super robot show, most Evangelion games are text-heavy things like adventure games and child-rearing simulators, which don't have big fanbases in the west . But there are a few action games, like this one, and the one on N64, which have also been passed over for westward release.

A certain kind of fan might be a little upset with the above paragraph, thinking I'm not showing Evangelion the proper amount of respect and reverence by referring to it as a super robot show, but that's what it is, and furthermore, this game is similarly irreverent. For a start, it's a Smash Bros.-esque party fighting game, with platforms and weapons and so on (though all the weapons are realistic things like missiles and axes, no squeaky hammers or anything), and it uses characters and locations from not only the series itself, but also from the movie End of Evangelion. So you can have fights atop a bunch of navy ships in the ocean, in the flooded remains of Tokyo, and even in places like the Seele room where all those talking slabs hang out at say ominous things to each other. The best stage of all, however, is Terminal Dogma, the place where the angel Lilith is crucified, bleeding LCL. This stage also serves as the game's "Final Destination", being just a flat plain with no special features or gimmicks.

The game's story mode lets you play as  any of the five kids who pilot evas over the course of the series, and it goes pretty much as you expect: you just take part in battles from the show, one after another. More interesting are the versus and survival modes, though, as they allow you to play as the angels, as well as some other oddities, like the mass-produced Evas from EoE, and there's even a guest character in the form of the Gunbuster! (Though it must be a shrunken-down version, since the actual Gunbuster was on a significantly larger scale than the Evas and angels.) The best part of this is that the selection isn't limited to those angels that are vaguely anthropomorphic: the d8-shaped Ramiel, spherical Leilel, and just plain strange Sahaquiel are all present. I'm sure I've said in previous that I'm not a big fan of Smash-likes, but I think Battle Orchestra has enough weird stuff in it to be worth a look, and the inclusion of such strange playable characters adds a lot of appeal.

So yeah, I'm surprised this game isn't already better known, since it's one of the few Evangelion videogames that's totally playable without knowledge of Japanese, plus it's actually pretty good for what it is. I should also mention that on top of everything else, it looks amazing, a ton of effort has obviously gone into the presentation, both in battle and in the menus. It's a bit of a copout, but I'll just end by saying that if you're a fan of Evangelion, and not averse to having a bit of illy fun with it, you should totally track this game down. If not, you probably shouldn't bother.


  1. Consider having a look at Shinsengumi Gunrou-den, aka Code of Samurai. I think you will like it. Love your blog

    1. thanks :D
      i think i actually have code of the samurai lying around somewhere, but haven't played it yet!