Release Date: 12/4/1992
System: PC Engine
Developer: Masaya Games
Publisher: Nihon Computer
- Turn type: Player turn/enemy turn.
- Maps: Small to medium. Terrain gives bonuses.
- Character customization: For some characters, you can choose between two mechs at certain upgrade points, but the choice is permanent.
- Character development: Standard XP/level system. At certain levels, the character's mech upgrades, sometimes with a choice between units.
- Party: You always get to use all your units in each map. In addition to a number of named characters, you get a decent number of nameless enemies that can level up and stay with you for the rest of the game.
- Equipment: The game has no items or equipment.
- Game flow: 29 stages, one after the other. A code can be used to repeat maps if necessary.
- Saving: Any time.
- Death: Not permanent
I believe this is the only Macross franchise game that will appear on this blog. Macross appears in a number of Super Robot Wars games, but this is the only SRPG for Macross alone. I'm afraid that Macross fans will not find a great deal to like in the story. The story elements are mostly borrowed from the original Macross series and Macross II, and the format of the game makes the characters underdeveloped.
On the other hand, the story is pretty good for a 1992 RPG. Masaya used the same technique as in Lady Phantom (and that they'll later repeat in the PCE remake of Langrisser) of using one short voiced cutscene before each stage. This is followed by a description of the situation and stage, and then some pre-battle dialogue. The crucial thing missing is dialogue between the missions, which would have fleshed out the characters more -- but once again, few games have that in 1992. The use of the vocal song (Ai Oboeteimasu ka) near the end of the game is a nice touch.
I wonder why the only characters from the original series to appear in the game are Britai and Exsedol.
From a gameplay standpoint, they did a good job of integrating the 3 forms of the Valkyries into the game. The idea that the plane fighter form has the lowest evade rate doesn't really make sense, but I found that all three forms were useful at different times. The level-based upgrades also add some interest and give you some new things to play with as the stages progress. The stages also have a huge number of NPCs, and they become part of the strategic calculations in each stage even if they die quickly. The decision to give you permanent grunt units is interesting as well; even though they are way behind your main characters in ability, they can actually accomplish a fair amount.
My main criticism about the gameplay is the lack of variety. This is to some extent dictated by the franchise, but it gets a little boring to fight the same Zentradi and Meltrandi units for 29 stages. Your player characters are also mostly the same. At least the win conditions and nature of the maps are distinct, so it's not just "kill all enemies" in every stage.
Of course the visuals and audio are great; this is the period where the PC Engine could run circles around all the other consoles when it came to graphics and sound.
Overall I had fun with this game.
Next up is the last original Famicom game on my list -- Just Breed, which has a recent fan translation.