Friday, 12 April 2019

Simple DS Series Vol. 31: The Chou Dangan!! Custom Sensha

As you look at the screenshots of this game, with the knowledge that it's a platform shooter about driving tanks, it would be easy to just write it off as a cheap Metal Slug knock off. It is a cheap Metal Slug knock off, but importantly, that's not all it is: it does have enough of its own qualities to justify its own existence. It's another nice little sample from the Simple DS Series, after all.

Being a Simple Series game, it does adhere to their usual design philosophy: upgradable characters, selecting the next stage you want to pay from a menu, lots of difficulty levels, and so on. It does take a few detours from the usual route, though: grinding for experience points only increases the max HP of your tank, as weapon and mobility upgrades are hidden throughout the stages as items. Furthermore, while most Simple Series games will pad themselves out with grinding and recycled stages and enemies, The Chou Dangan Custom Sensha is short and sweet, being only about an hour long from start to finish, with the aforementioned grinding never really being necessary. Completing story mode unlocks a score attack mode, which is mostly the same, to the point where I can't actually figue out what the difference is meant to be.

What's most interesting about this game, though, is that depite the fact that (as far as I know) tanks can't jump in real life, this is a platform game about driving a tank where the limitations and abilities of a tank are taken into account. For example, you have two guns: one that can be swivelled around in almost a full circle, and you main turret, that can't be aimed, raised, or lowered. So you  really have to take into account your height relative to the enemies when you're shooting them. Another thing relates to the tank treads: if you jump up to a higher platform, and only just about get onto the edge of it, you can keep pushing forward to kind of climb onto it using the movement of the tank treads. It's only a little thing, but it's very satisfying.

If you can find a copy for cheap, then The Chou Dangan Custom Sensha is definitely worth picking up. The only real downside it has is that it's very short, very easy, and not really exciting or interesting enough to play through more than once. But that one playthrough you have will be a fun time, at least.

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