Wartech: Senko no Ronde; Do not believe the lies.

There are two important things to remember when thinking about Wartech: Senko no Ronde:

  • Firstly, it's awesome.
  • Secondly, it's not for everyone.

Look, mum! Giant flying robots!Look, mum! Giant flying robots!

So, for a while I held out with my PS2 and my GameCube, but then I gave in and bought an XBox 360. Not for Bioshock, since that isn't really my kind of game, and not for Halo 3, since Halo 1 bored the hell out of me when it started asking me to re-do the same levels I'd already completed, only in reverse this time. Armoured Core 4 was tempting, I figured I'd need a platform for Rock Band when that came out, but realistically I bought a 360 on the back of seeing a promotional video for this game. It was obvious from the first few seconds of gameplay footage that this was the spiritual successor to Virtual On, which was quite possibly the best mecha-duel game in the history of mecha-duel games.

Now, this is a bit of a niche genre, it has to be said. To enjoy Senko no Ronde (and arguably Virtual On), you really have to be a fan of fighting games (Streetfighter et al) and also a fan of 2D shooters (Ikaruga, for example), since this subgenre contains strong elements from both. So I can understand that people in general aren't necessarily going to like the game... but still, reviews for the title are pretty bizarre in places.

Major review factories like IGN don't seem to be able to work out what kind of game it is. One review complains about features found in every fighting game under the sun as if they're new and inexplicable choices, because the reviewer has pigeonholed it as a shooter; the next complains that the arena doesn't scroll and that the combat is limited to one-on-one, because he's decided it's a shooter. It's kind of amusing to read until you come across tripe like this - or worse, too-short pieces [since removed] which make sweeping statements like "It saddens me that somewhere out there in this wide world someone might not read this review, and thus might never know what a horrible mistake it would be to spend money on this travesty". Well, it saddens me that people might actually read that 'review' and get put off buying such a wonderful example of its (admittedly small) genre because some guy on the Internet is too lazy to expound upon his points.

So yeah - the game has its flaws. There are a couple of gameplay irritations; for example, the arena boundary is a fixed circle that it's all-too-easy to not notice and run into, and since the game's combat takes place exclusively in the sky, if not space, there's no obvious rationale behind this. There's the genre problem - not everyone will love this game as much as I do - and as such it would be wise to find someone who owns it and get them to give you a few rounds before throwing money down. You may love fighting games and shooters and still dislike this hybrid blend, it's entirely possible. But here's some things I can confidently assert as facts, counter to the more scathing of the game's reviews:

  • Senko no Ronde is not a shallow game - there is enough depth in the combat to keep a Streetfighter fan like me happy. If you think it's shallow then frankly, you're not doing it right.
  • Senko no Ronde is not a short game, because like any fighter under the sun the point of the game is not the story mode, it's the multiplayer. Complaining that this is a short game is like complaining that Chess is a short game, when you're playing against yourself and losing on purpose.
  • Senko no Ronde is not a 2D shooter in the 'STG' sense, it just borrows heavily from tropes of that genre. So if you love Touhou but hate Streetfighter, don't be surprised if this isn't your thing... but like a shooter, most of the combat takes place at range.
  • Senko no Ronde is not a fighter in the traditional sense either, it just borrows heavily from tropes of that genre, too. So if you love Mortal Kombat 4 then you should shoot yourself but hated Ikaruga, then there's no guarantee you'll like this game... but like a fighter, it only really makes sense against other human beings.
  • Senko no Ronde has a control response that would generously be described as 'unique'; after a while you get used to it and it feels fine, but when you first pick up the controller it feels sluggish and odd.

Anyway, I think it's great.


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