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
? Answer: Grand
Theft Auto: Vice City
. You're two for two!
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.
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.