Why robots and surfing don't mix.
I feel a great sorrow for the robots of Eureka Seven Vol. 2: The New Vision
. These giant mechs stand like kings atop giant robot surfboards, but they are built for war, and ultimately death. They also have ugly names like ‘Flestnia.’
The New Vision chronologically fits in between the events of Vol. 1: The New Wave and the actual anime series. I kind of wonder if the series is any good, because I would happily get onto my actual skateboard, take it out onto my hilly street, lose control and tumble down into incoming traffic, and live the rest of my life as a brain in a jar before I would voluntarily spend two more minutes dealing with the Eureka Seven game.
The New Vision
features three specific modes of gameplay: repeat the weak hover board races until you clear them, blindly button-mash through the short robot battles, or crawl around dull towns talking to dull NPCs.
I don’t know where to even begin, but neither does The New Vision: the first quarter of the game is a fatally slow death-march. It begins with five minutes of sleepy-eyed talking heads, then stumbles through conversations in a bland, empty-looking starter town. Yawn.
In The New Vision, you move so slow, your character actually steps off the board from time to time to pose at you or pant. You have a ‘gas tank’ boost meter that you have to constantly apply, yet no matter how well you race, you always have to find each track’s token shortcut to win.
Your prize for winning the races is a brand-new twenty-foot-tall killing machine armed with laser cannons, homing missiles and kung-fu grip. If this is the future, I need to get onto the pro skate tour or something. The 3D robot combat plays a lot like Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkichi 2
, your LFO glides around, shooting cannons and doing one-two-three punch combos. You never get any sense that one combo strategically bests another, and it is easy enough to get in an enemy’s face and mash the punch button until you both die of boredom.
An impossibly tight behind-the-back camera makes the robot levels nearly unplayable. Your robot literally takes up the entire center of the screen, from top to bottom, and everything on the sides of the screen is usually turning out of view or hiding behind your character.
The flying robot stages combine the worst traits from racing and combat. Take the hypersensitive turning controls from the races, and then force players to lock the camera onto opponents (which also locks down your steering). Once you’ve locked-on to an opponent, all you can do is mash the meaningless attack buttons to whittle your opponent’s armor away.
Though the main game does nothing to teach you the system, the simple heads-up display is fairly straightforward. I was worried about spending all my ammo, but the bar simply flashes and refills after time; a few labels like ‘AP’ and ‘TP’ meant nothing to me but I was generally able to play with no explanations, that’s either bad in a good way, or good in a bad one.
You won’t be playing much, however - New Vision relies too heavily on cut scenes and conversations, only pausing to slip in an action stage here and there. The sleepy-eyed character models and laid-back voice work fail to excite whether they’re talking about sport surfing or terrorism. Inappropriately chipper music also ruins the tone and meaning of every cut scene, so I couldn’t decide whether to laugh or wince at what I was seeing. So I did both.
When the story mode wears thin, the Situation Mode lets you create your own, boring showdown. Pick your favorite (or least hated) characters and fight over sky, on land or even on foot. It’s a better way to play than the sluggish single player campaign, but that isn’t saying much.
I was hoping to see more high-quality FMV like the introduction, but the game mostly uses its flat 3D graphics. It’s disappointing and inconsistent: sometimes the characters move their eyeballs and really perform, other times they stand there like tree trunks. I also kind of miss the gore from the series. The partially organic LFOs of the TV show explode into geysers of blood, but where is that in the game?
When it comes to the final decision point, where you consider loading The New Vision into your Playstation CD tray, Sumner has the most truthful line in the game: “I’m really not interested.” If you’re a Eureka Seven fan, you’re better of just watching your show.