Front Mission
Review By: Mack Salmon

Giant robots seem to be a recurring theme in Japanese culture, what with the Gundams, Xenogears, and giant rubbery monsters that regularly destroy downtown Tokyo. Even Squaresoft got in the craze for this Super Famicon RPG, called Front Mission, in which you engage in several missions on the front of some kind of war! How sensical! You serve as mercenaries in a vicious war between two sets of initials, the OSU and USN. The main character, Lloyd, has all kinds of bad things happen to him and his fiancee, and he spends much of the game searching for her. Fear not, though, as he eventually DOES find her! But not after an intricate web of political intrigue, betrayal, and other emotions. You might lose track of who's on what side by the end, but the easiest way to go about doing things is to simply KILL THE PEOPLE THAT AREN'T YOU.

This process of killing the opposing army is done in a very fun way. Each of the people's robots are divided up into four sections: Torso, left arm, right arm, and legs. These places have their own HP, and if the HP goes down to zero, that part gets destroyed. If you lose your arms, you can't attack, if you lose your legs, your movement is crippled, and if your torso explodes, you die! You attack in the wonderful way of taking turns to fight, but if two robots engage in short range combat, they'll both get a chance to attack. So it's not TOO bad in that respect. All in all, since combat is the meat of the game, it HAS to be fun, and it is.

But if combat is the meat of the game, then upgrading your robots would have to be the gristle. If you don't want your ass to get blown apart in the upcoming fight, you'll have to select upgrades for your body, left arm, right arm, legs, computer, backpack, left hand weapon, right hand weapon, left shoulder weapon, and right shoulder weapon. You can't just buy parts willy-nilly, either, you'll have to make sure you don't go over your weight limit, and you'll also have to choose parts and weapons suited to the pilots skills. It might not sound too bad at first, but by the end of the game, you'll have accumulated EIGHTEEN party members! ALL of which you'll have to constantly upgrade after EVERY mission if you want them to be at all effective. Sound tedious? It sure as hell is.

All in all, Front Mission is a far better game about fighting robots than Xenogears, if only for the fact that the main character is somewhat sympathetic, and you might actually want to see him succeed at the end. Maybe this has something to do with the fact that in between fighting in his giant robot, he doesn't whine like a bitch about having to fight in his giant robot for no reason. Most of the characters in Front Mission have a somewhat decent backstory, and some bearing of importance on the story. So if you're looking for a great strategy game, step into the cockpit of Front Mission.

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