Right alongside Street Fighter III in Capcom's impressive list of games to bring stateside is Tech Romancer, a 3D fighting game inspired by giant robot anime of the last three decades. The game-play in Tech Romancer is highly reminiscent of Bandai's Gundam: Battle Masters series. Each player has "damage meters" which slowly fill up as you pummel each other silly with a wide array of weapons. Heavy hits will knock a "power-up" from your opponent, which then can be picked up and exploited to your advantage.
Graphically, the game is sweet. The level of articulation in each mech's animation is detailed to the extreme. So far, we've spotted the following parodies: Mazinger Z, Getter Robo, Macross, Evangelion, Gundam and many others. Tech Romancer is set for release here sometime this spring.
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Hulking robots: Ain't nothing tike 'em. Tech Romancer takes the cheesy, cool, badly lip-synced style of Japanese '70s giant robot shows, and turns it into a fighting game. No doubt, fans of this stuff will absolutely eat the game up--especially the various story modes that play out like a TV show with animated cutscenes, various enemy encounters and the like. I was never really into that sort of thing, so it doesn't mean as much to me. But even from an outsider's perspective. there's something really kick-ass about a couple of giant mech-like robots duking it out with all sorts of flashy, over-the-top attacks. After awhile--and I imagine this is a universal desire--all you really want is a solid fighting engine that'll provide hours of one- and two-player fun. And thankfully, TR has the graphics and gameplay areas covered (although its fighting engine isn't on the same level as Soul Calibur). I like the variety of characters you can select, and the weapons and power-ups you can pick up during a fight (giant canons, defensive upgrades, etc.). There are tons of regular moves as well. Graphically, the game is above-average. Mech models are detailed and animate well. Some of the explosions are lame (some look like giant gray turds extending toward the heavens, while others look like sprite-based stuff from the Super NES). But all in all, I like it. And I'm sure non-hardcore fighting-game lovers will too.
This one should appeal to the burgeoning Japanese animation market in North America. Much like Virtual On before it, Tech Romancer takes the huge, nimble mechs that personify the Japanese animation experience and pits them against one another in mortal combat. The massive robots do damage to buildings and leave trenches and craters all over the place as they wage war on one another. The control is tight, as you'd expect from any Capcom fighter, and the learning curve is very user-friendly. With the help of the ingame moves list you'll be pulling off some spectacular attacks in no time. Tech Romancer may not be overly deep, but it's a good casual fighter.
I'm not a big fan of them fancy fightin' games, but (like Soul Calibur and Tekken 3) Tech Romancer is one of the rare exceptions. Many so-called "hardcore" fighting game aficionados will scoff at Tech Romancer's unfashionably simple controls and manageable move list (you won't need to remember 40 combos to be proficient), but those are the qualities that most endeared the game to me. All right--that, and the fact that the gameplay involves making lots of big, goofy robots (many of which anime fans will recognize) hurt each other. If you typically don't like fighting games, this is a different one that might change your mind.
Capcom has always been the king of the 2D fighting game. Unfortunately, innovation has pretty much laid down for easy dollar signs as we are subjected to endless Street Fighter clones involving all but the Spice Girls. Recent news reports have stated that Street Fighter III: Third Impact and Street Fighter Alpha 3 are the end of those respective series, and Capcom is moving on to new stories (not that those games had much of a story anyway). Plus the arcade industry is slowly, slowly moving away from the fighting genre. Those fighting games that do succeed in today's market must at least offer something significantly different to keep people interested. Enter Tech Romancer.
Virtual On was one of the first games to incorporate a basic fighting engine into more of a 3D realm. Throughout the past few years, games like Ehrgeiz and Die Hard Arcade are taking on more of an action game feel, and yet you as the player are still mindlessly bashing enemies with an array of punches, kicks and special attacks. The difference is the world in which the game is presented. At this year's AMOA show in Nashville, games like Sega's Spikeout, House of the Dead Side Story and Dynamite Deku (Die Hard Arcade) 2 took this action/adventure/fighting game idea to never-before-seen levels.
Tech Romancer is Capcom's attempt to enter this "new" genre, and it looks very cool. Created by Shouji Kawamori (the god of animation who created Macross, or Robotech to us mainlanders) and Studio Nue, this game has elements of an action game, a fighting game and an RPG. The gameplay feels very much like Virtual On, where two 3D mechs duke it out on a battlefield. The mechs vary in size, piloting skill and weaponry. As in Virtual On, the larger the mech, the slower it is but also the more powerful. Each of the eight mechs has its own purpose, whether it be a defender, a military robot or even a transformer a la Robotech (anyone remember the walking F-14?). There are even ways to make your mech stronger.
Tech Romancer offers a variety of items you can pick up to enhance your mech. You are able to stock up five items in all and are equipped with three to start (two weapons and one offensive power up). Three types of items can be acquired: Recovering Type Items (Repair Module for damage repair, Armor Module for Armor Repair and Special Module to increase your Special Attacks Gauge), Ability Type Items (Offense Up Unit, Defense Up Unit, Speed Up Unit and Hero Booster for special abilities) and last, Weapon Items (there are three types of weapons for each character). The powering up, recovering or usage of weapons is as important as selecting which items to stock. You can turn the tide of any battle using skill. To find power-ups, you might crash into an obstacle or knock down an opponent to take his stock. Some power-ups help you more in one mode of play than the other.
Tech Romancer also offers two different game modes. Story Mode leads you through a different story depending not only on the character you choose, but the way you fight. Every move you make influences how the story develops. A selectable story line leads you to a different tale, animation and ending, making for brilliant replay (and this is a Capcom game!). Hero Challenge Mode pits you against 12 opponents to rate your ability to become a "hero." The game will evaluate and rank you after every battle, and your rank will determine what sort of hero you are able to become.
All in all, Tech Romancer sounds like an incredibly innovative game from the company who is also known as the king of fighting game clones.