Robotech: Battlecry by TDK Mediactive is the first game, stateside, to be released that is based on the popular Macross spin-off made mini-series, Robotech. It is based on the first and most popular mini-series in the saga and allows you to pilot a transformable Veritech fighter in a variety of situations. Fans of the 1980s animated series will be glad to know that developer Vicious Cycle went to great lengths to instill the same sense of mech-lovin’ found in the show. However, they may not be too happy to find out that despite the inclusion of original voice-talent from the show, cel-shaded graphics that closely mimick the Robotech universe, and the ability to transform the Veritech at will, the title still comes off as an average mech game with bland objectives and sloppy play-control.
You’ll play the part of Jack Archer, pilot for the Robotech Defense Federation and all-around good guy. The goal of this global agency is to protect a downed alien ship that struck earth ten years earlier. This alien ship was codenamed the SDF-1, and its origins were unknown until the aliens discovered the location of their crashed ship. The story begins with a sequence that pits you against the giant-sized alien race known as the Zentraedi, as they execute a surprise attack on earth. These are powerful aliens you’re dealing with here so it is only appropriate that your Veritech fighter is decked out with an arsenal of offensive weapons and maneuvers. The Vertitech that you’ll control is capable of transforming into three distinct forms: a jet fighter, a half-jet half bi-pedal mech, and an agile battloid automaton. Each form can be easily taken via pushing the correct direction on the D-pad, and as you progress you’ll find that transforming between these different mech variants will seem like second nature.
You’ll also become accustomed to switching between forms based on the lay of the land. For example, the jet/mech hybrid is a good form to take on ground-based missions since it can move vertically, hover, and is fairly agile considering its capabilities. However, in high-speed space missions the jet form is the best way to go since it has the fastest acceleration, speed, and can easily dodge incoming missiles using barrel rolls. While any form can be taken at any time during the game, it is recommended that you become familiar with the current stage and determine which form could be best utilized and stick with it, otherwise you’ll quickly learn the intricacies of the “retry” function.
The missions in Robotech can be essentially grouped into two categories: high-flying space missions and claustrophobic missions on sparsely populated city streets. The basic premise of each type of stage is the same: blow up the opponents or protect the allies. This is accomplished by using homing missiles or your cannons. You’ll be able to change your perspective with the L-analog stick, and the R-analog stick switches between enemy lock-ons. The game is heavily reliant on auto-aiming, and it works for the majority of the time but occasionally you’ll be auto-locked on an opponent that flies directly over you, which forces you to either target another enemy or use the games sluggish maneuvering to continue to chase the locked-on alien. The gameplay doesn’t come close to mimicking the intense fast-paced action of the show, which is a major disappointment.
The weapons in Robotech: Battlecry get the job done but are far from impressive. Each form you take will have a primary and secondary weapon. Ammo is unlimited but requires time to recharge. The primary weapon is something akin to a machine gun and the secondary weapons are the same “drunken missiles” found in the show, which can be locked-on to multiple enemies in the same style as Rez or Panzer Dragoon.
While the gameplay is a tad too slow-paced and the objectives are somewhat generic considering the subject matter, fans of the series should find a few things to like with Robotech: Battlecry. Characters from the Robotech series make guest appearances in-game and in cut-scenes as you progress through the game, and the visual style of Battlecry is quite similar to that of its TV counterpart.
Visually, the game looks great as far as the ship designs and character models are concerned, but the environments, particularly the city landscapes, lack detail and an adequate amount of polish. They look like quickly-constructed props whose purpose is to serve as place-keepers until the real graphics are added. The cut-scenes between missions don’t really feel like they share any similarities with the show on which they are based, but on their own merits are pretty cool looking. Aurally, Battlecry also misses the mark. The various in-game orchestrations are not even remotely related to the series’ tunes and while they do fit nicely with the on-screen action, they are by and large completely forgettable. Voice acting is high-quality stuff but nothing that will win the voice-actors any critical acclaim. Sound effects purport a high-sense of excitement but are not varied enough to remain entertaining.
Overall, Robotech: Battlecry will have a hard time appealing to anyone but die-hard fans of the series, and even then, it is unlikely that it will stay entertaining for more than a few hours. The visual style of the game is a nice digital representation of the Robotech universe but the boring mission objectives, sluggish gameplay, and lackluster voice-acting relegate this title to slightly-above-average status. Rent before you buy.