Saturday, February 27, 2010

Twelve Months, Sixty Dollars, and a Playstation 2: February

Okay, so my favorite local second hand, MUST HAVE MUSIC AND MORE, has a slew of Playstation 2 games and recently I discovered that a great number of them are being sold for the low, low price of $4.95.  For those of you who have been following along at home, this is how I came across Pryzm , Chapter One: The Last Unicorn, that little gem that I alone made famous last year!  As I was browsing through the stacks the other day I saw a good number of these $5 games that looked at the very least interesting, if not potential diamonds in the rough.  After thinking it over I came to a conclusion:  The PS2 has a vast library and very few catch the attention of the popular culture, but lots and lots of games get released. Somewhere in those stacks of discarded, unloved games must be some really great games just looking for someone to play them and at the risk of five dollars a go, I think it’s worth finding just what is out there.  The result is this on-going experiment, a journey that you and I are going to take through the unwanted library of the PS2.  So strap in, kiddies, we’ve got twelve months, sixty dollars, and a Playstation2 and we’re about to discover what we’ve been missing!


ROBOTECH: Battlecry

When I was a kid, ROBOTECH was that super awesome cartoon that was unlike anything else I had seen because it was like a regular action cartoon, but the story kept going from episode to episode and the characters actually developed over the course of the series.  This was revolutionary in a world of GI JOE, He-man and Transformers.  So naturally, I developed a fascination with ROBOTECH and all things related.
The point being, when I was wandering through my local second hand last month and I saw ROBOTECH: Battlecry on the shelf I was drawn to it.  A chance to take command of the Veritech forces was too good to pass up, and for $5 no less! 

Fortunately, the game does not disappoint.  You take command of a Veritech fighter in numerous battles that more or less span the storylines from the cartoon.  During each battle you can switch between Fighter, Guardian, and Battloid modes as the mission parameters or personal preferences dictate.  Missions range from space dogfights to search-and-destroy ground missions and everything in-between.  The action is fast-paced and the missions are diverse enough to maintain your interest throughout the various chapters of the game.

Graphically, the game is beautiful.  The cell-shading is used to great advantage translating the feel of the cartoon into an interactive environment.  The cut scenes are cartoon stills that appear to be created specifically for the game.  As mentioned above, the story roughly follows the storyline of the cartoons and features characters from the same.  However, to knit everything together, some of the cut scenes are surprisingly long.

ROBOTECH: Battlecry is a lot of fun to play.  The quick and responsive controls are simple to learn and get you right into the action.  The playfields are expansive and although not infinite, the borders are seamless and do not feel like matte paintings framing a playable area.  But be forewarned, the game is hard, at least for me.  Perhaps it demands more strategy than I have time to devote to it right now, or perhaps it assumes intuitions I do not possess, but the game is rather challenging.  It took me several tries just to complete the first chapter of the game, particularly due to a tough boss fight at the end of the third level.  At this point I am into the second chapter and am stuck on a level that wants you to protect a civilian structure that is under attack.  Needless to say, the bad guys are getting there and pounding the crap out of the building before I can fend them off.  More than anything, I’d say the game takes practice and wants you to master its idiosyncratic skills in order to succeed.  Not a challenge that I am incapable of, but one that is currently demanding more time and attention than I can really give the game.  The game has enough appeal, however, for me to take a longer look at it in the future.
So is ROBOTECH: Battlecry worth $5?  Most definitely, particularly for fans of the series.  How this game ends up with a $5 price tag is really a mystery to me.  It should at least be fetching upwards of $12 on a regular basis.  Perhaps its age (2002 release) is partly to blame, perhaps it was extremely popular in its day, but for whatever reason this game is now available for the more than reasonable sum of five American dollars.  Whatever the case, it would appear that I have once again found a possible classic among the discards of the PS2 library! If you happen across it and don’t have it, pick it up!
What’s coming next month?  I really have no idea, I haven’t had a chance to make it over to the second hand.  Maybe this week…

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