Save me from giant robots!
Okay, time for a quick video game math quiz. I'll start you off easy. If you take Super Mario and add racing, what do you get? Super Mario Kart, right! Now a little harder. What's Driver + Scarface + Don Johnson? Answer: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. You're two for two!
But here's a hard one. What's Pokemon + Army Men + Virtual On? Don't know? That's probably a good thing, because you don't want to be overly familiar with this mess of an equation, the latest offbeat action game from Capcom called Gotcha Force. The game drops you into a world of manga kids who control good toy robots trying to save the world from being invaded by malevolent, uh, toy robots.
You play as Kou, a kid who discovers a Gotcha Borg robot called G-Red while on a school field trip. G-Red explains that he has tracked the bad guys that destroyed his home (appropriately known as the Death Force) to our own planet Earth. As a Gotcha Force commander, it is your job to acquire new Borgs, accumulate GF energy and defeat the evil Death Force.
Gotcha Force basically combines the collection of Pokemon with the robots and gameplay of Virtual On. You start off with a single Borg and gain more Borgs and GF energy as you defeat other Gotcha Force commanders. GF energy dictates how many active Borgs you can have on your team - the more GF energy you have, the more powerful your team will be. Each Borg is unique, with its own abilities and special powers, and requires a certain amount of GF energy to operate, so it's up to you to determine exactly which Borgs will best help you achieve victory.
The main game screen is a map of Safari Town, the quaint little spot where the game takes place. Safari Town is broken down into about a dozen zones which flash when there is some action going on. You select a zone and start a match.
Each match is like a dumbed down version of Virtual On. You and occasionaly an ally take on one or two teams of enemy Borgs in a run-and-gun action affair that works like a fighting game's Team Battle mode. When one of your Borgs is defeated, the next one on the team steps up to continue the fight.
It's too bad what worked for Virtual On doesn't work for Gotcha Force. The controls are ultra-simplistic with a paltry two attack buttons. One button is the basic attack; from a distance it will fire a projectile weapon and at close range will unleash melee attacks. The other is your special attack, which sadly is rarely very special. You won't find much in the way of flashy, jaw-dropping moves or combos; you just hammer on buttons like a moron until the other guy stops moving. It's really not enough to work with.
The evil camera makes things more problematic. Since the robots are micro-sized, they fight in real-world arenas like playgrounds and bedrooms. All kinds of objects can get in the way, and since the camera usually tries to track enemies toward the center of your screen, things can get ugly if you, say, go under the coffee table while your enemy is on top of it. Visual...systems…overloading!
So the action pretty much sucks, but the Borg collecting almost makes up for it. Over 200 Borgs are available, and as robots go, the designs aren't half bad. Military Borgs, ninja Borgs, dragon Borgs…I'm hoping for some pirate and zombie Borgs, too. They've definitely got the collection theme down. I found myself playing just a little longer for the sole purpose of finding and capturing new units..
The Borgs look good, but aren't very detailed and the battle arenas are filled with simple objects that don't do anything besides provide a little cover. It's a clean game that offers very little character or sense of environment.
The sound fits the game, but don't get too excited because the kids really sound like kids reading from a piece of paper that some grown-ups put in front of them. Boy, I guess Gary Coleman was a pretty talented kid after all.
You get the sense that Gotcha Force could have been a decent game. The robot design and collection aspects are pretty good, but it isn't worth much when you're just pounding buttons like an idiot. Mindless gameplay coupled with camera problems and not much else leads to a game you definitely don't need to get.