In this industry, we’ve developed nice colloquial terms to describe specific genres. When you hear the term ‘shoot-em-up’, more often than not, your mind will dash to titles like Raiden, Giga Wing, or on PDAs, Siberian Strike and Turjah. MetalStrike is best described as a ‘shoot-em-up’ but it takes place on land. The best analogy I can think of offhand is the game Postal because that was a game about wrecking tons of havoc on a 2D sprite backdrop with little to no guidelines for you except to lay waste to the entire landscape. MetalStrike takes on a similar characteristic except it leaves pedestrian suburbia for some sci-fi robotic action.
There’s a unique look and style to MetalStrike; one that I haven’t seen before for a handheld title. Let’s make a disclaimer first: this isn’t realistic. In 2D, the cartoonish smoke effects and explosions feel right at home with the rest of the motif. I suspect they hired a bunch of great artists because while MetalStrike seems anime-influenced, I couldn’t exactly compare it with any specific piece of anime.
The terrain, rendered with 2D tile maps, look fabulous. They’re meticulously detailed. Buildings are drawn with billboard signs. Windows are added to every installation. The overall detail highlights a great deal of care from the developers. While not every item is animated, nearly every object in the world is destructible, including ones you’ll be destroying for mayhem’s sake.
And there’ll be lots of mayhem throughout MetalStrike. You’ll have choice between a slower mech and a flying hovercraft robot as you stomp or coast your way through a myriad of military troops. Tanks, soldiers and the odd boss encounter dot the landscape as you move through three different worlds in linear fashion. Because MetalStrike employs a walker mech (complete with chicken legs), the gameplay moves at a slower pace than the more advanced shooter titles from Asia. Titles like Ikaruga and Giga Wing 2, for example, are relentless and the projectiles thrown at you give you about a two centimeter space on screen to hide in. MetalStrike, because of its pace, is able to throw a similar amount of projectiles but maintain a simpler difficulty curve. That’s not to say everything is a cakewalk though. Be forewarned that if you hate that kind of gameplay, you won’t find more depth in MetalStrike.
The use of 2D artwork means every piece of MetalStrike needs to be included in the whole package. That means, holistically, this is a big game. It requires nine megabytes space for installation. Add another ten or more megabytes for it to run smoothly. While this title will fit on storage cards, the requirements are steep and they illustrate why 3D titles are preferred by developers these days. Storing instructions for polygons rather than storing whole pieces of artwork is undoubtedly more agreeable. But the trade-off is worth it, considering the consistently high level of the graphics shown everywhere.
Not only are the visuals appealing, they’re also functional too. People who use handhelds will often notice that dark colors look great on screenshots. In fact, I would argue that most titles we see today use very dark palettes for that nitty gritty realistic look. MetalStrike’s vibrant theme, thus, kills two birds with one stone, letting us see in adverse lighting conditions while creating a motif that is wholly unique unto its own.
There’s talk by the developers that MetalStrike is being converted into an online title. Everyone, including their grandmother, is planning online functionality these days. That trend hasn’t escaped PDA developers. However, MetalStrike does suffer from some random crashes, especially if you don’t exceed the minimum required specs. Hopefully, they’ll be able to address this before making the next leap but there’s no denying that they have a wonderful base to build on.
[05/10] Program Size
[12/15] Learning Curve