Thursday, July 31, 2014

Taking a dip in the protoculture

Halfway through writing this post for Robotech Invasion, Harmony Gold, the company that owns the rights to Robotech, launched a Kickstarter campaign for a new animated series. It's exciting to think there is a chance for a new series. Robotech the animated series was one of, if not the first, successfully ported anime from Japan and near and dear to my heart. It was in my early childhood when I first saw it on TV, very early in the morning. All it took was a glimpse of the mecha and I was hooked. Flash forward 30+ years, here I am probably the only person playing through Robotech Invasion on the PS2 recently.

It's kinda hard to be a Robotech fan. The original animated series first aired in the early 80s, with precious little new material released since that time. Most newer material has been unfinished and abandoned. The franchise itself is always under legal restrictions and copyright issues. The long rumored, live action film attached to Tobey Maguire and Leonardo DiCaprio hasn't had any traction. However there are a few video games that released in and around the 64 bit era, notably Robotech Battlecry and Robotech Invasion.

While Invasion is no driving sim, it is fun because you have missiles
Robotech Invasion released for PS2 and the original XBox in 2004. I've always wanted to play it so my “Summer of PS2” was the perfect opportunity for me to find it on eBay. It's a first person shooter, but one where you can toggle between FP and 3rd--such a great feature, that I wish was in more games. The human characters in Invasion are using cyclone armor which transforms into a high speed, armored motorcycle, mixing in some driving game play. Invasion takes place during the "New Generation" part of the overall Robotech story. The earth has been ravaged with wars and infiltrated by the Invid. The great battle of Reflex Point, the climax of the animated saga, is about to happen. One more chance for humanity to overthrow their invaders.

The gameplay reminds me of the NGC Metroid games. There is a lot of futuristic weapons, large enemies and the cyclone armor even offers additional viewing options like heat and night vision. Switching between weapons and views is a pinch with the d-pad. With the 1st/3rd person toggle feature it is the perfect blend of shooting and exploring. 

Great seeing different mecha and Invid troopers straight from the show
My only gripe would be for there to be more to explore. Through some large, cleverly design levels there is the illusion of an open world but the game is quite linear. The levels are packed with the recognizable enemies from the animated series but the details in the landscape and structure leaves more to be desired. Play it for the gameplay and nostalgia but don’t look for this to be the defining moment in Robotech history.

Robotech Academy Kickstarter campaign

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