It takes a lot to make a Nintendo game seem bizarre, probably because no matter how strange a Gamecube game is, players are having so much fun playing it they don't notice. Unfortunately, such is not the case with Gotcha Force.
This game is distractingly strange, with clunky controls, mixed up graphics and a story line that is just plain out confusing. Think of Gotcha as Pokemon with toys - well I suppose you could say Pokemon fits that description too, but you know what I mean. Instead of collecting alien-laden balls, you're going after tiny destructive toys. Each one has its own special attacks, movements and stats.
Apparently these toys are from another planet and you have to help them to defeat some evil toys before they take over the universe, galaxy or whatever. The concept of the game is, umm, unique. Before each battle you put together a team of toys, from the ones you've collected, making sure not to overspend your power allowance. (Each toy has a power cost.) Once in battle you play until your toy explodes and then you move on to the next in your team until all of yours are blown up or the enemy toys have been defeated.
You can pump up your power by winning battles, that's also how you unlock new toys. The battles themselves are a bit clunky, with action that is far too hectic to really being able to use any finesse in. Instead you'll find yourself smacking away at the buttons hoping to out shoot a bad toy.
The graphics only make the game more confusing, featuring a crisp cartoon approach, when the characters get too close to each other or some of the scenery the camera angle goes crazy. Audio doesn't add much to the mix, using a blend of lackluster voice acting and nonsensical sound effects that are meant to capture the mood of a text sentence but typically just make you laugh.
The multiplayer function of the game supports up to four players, but really doesn't add much to the life of the game. Sure you can transport your Gotcha teams to a friends Gamecube on a memory card, but that doesn't fix the game's general, and profound, issues. It might be worth a rent, but it sure as heck ain't worth buying.
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Although Gotcha Force is pretty low budget (the story is told in static, 2D anime-style panels), the battles that make up 98 percent of the game are intensely addictive. They remind me of Virtua On's robot mayhem, in fact, although they're not quite so fast paced. Each fighter has one main weapon and several auxiliary skills, and tandem attacks with your allies are possible, so the game's got this deep, strategic angle beneath its cute exterior. I have only one complaint, but it's a fairly big one--beat the Story mode, and all that's left is multiplayer battles and robot collecting. The game's worth at least a rental for that two-day window of addiction, but it lacks much lasting depth. Despite that, though, GC owners would be missing out if they skipped this entirely."]
Equal parts cutesy and cool, Gotcha Force's story of toy-sized warriors from another world will win the hearts of the tykes in your house, but won't interest the gamer with so much as a single hair on his balls. The arena-based combat is banal, combos are almost accidental, the dialogue consists of goo goos and gah gahs, and the difficulty curve seems designed to boost a baby's confidence. Overall, it's an all right little game, provided you're still in Pampers.
If you've been searching high and low for an anime-style version of Sega's robot combat game Virtual On, call off your bloodhounds--Gotcha Force is it. Its sweet-as-candy visuals and gotta-catch-em-all style of collecting will appeal to Pokemon graduates, but its battle-battle-and-more-battle gameplay will leave others (myself included) somewhat empty. The matches are initially fun (once you get used to the confusing camera), but the repetitive warfare gets mighty old after a few hours. Even the 'Story' mode is disappointingly devoid of any real narrative or excitement.