Choujikuu Yousai Macross


Review by Rob "Dire 51"



Graphics: 6

Sound: 4

Gameplay: 7

Overall: 6

Fighter modeLong before anime became extremely popular in the U.S., a few series filtered into American television. Early gems like Astro Boy, Kimba The White Lion and the venerable Speed Racer were the first attempts to introduce anime to the American public. By the mid-1980s, quite a few more anime series had been introduced. Out of all of the ones being shown on American TV during that time, the one that endeared itself the most to its fans was Robotech, the Americanized version of three Japanese series: Macross, Mospeada and Southern Cross. Robotech itself pales in comparison to the three original Japanese series, but to the people that watched it and enjoyed it during that time (myself included), it was an epic series unlike anything we'd ever seen before.

About the same time, the video game industry was struggling to rise from the ashes of the great Crash of '84. Nintendo released its Famicom system in Japan at the time, and towards the end of 1985 released the Famicom in the U.S. as the Nintendo Entertainment System. Surprisingly, none of the popular cartoons at the time were converted into NES carts - at least in the U.S. In Japan, several anime series had games based on them released on the Famicom - Macross among them. However, the game went unreleased in the U.S. - Bandai either couldn't get the license for Robotech, or they simply passed on it.

Gerwalk modeChoujikuu Yousai Macross was the full title of the game (hereafter referred to as CYM). It was never specified if you were controlling a specific member of the cast or some nameless member of the Robotech Defense Force, although it may have been in the instructions, which I can't read (being an American that had not seen the original Japanese series until recently, I'm going to have a tendency to refer to things by the American name rather than the Japanese name, as they're the ones I'm more familiar with). Whoever you are, your objective is to fly a lone Veritech fighter into the heart of the Zentraedi battle fleet and destroy their battleships from the inside, one after the other. Standing in between you and the battleships is the entire Zentraedi fleet. Familiar mecha from the series are all over the place - from the standard Zentraedi Battle Pods to the Officer's Battle Pods and all sorts of mecha in between.

Your Veritech has the ability to transform into three different forms, just like in the series. The standard Veritech fighter mode is the one you begin each stage with. You can switch at will between the Battloid and Gerwalk modes as well. This isn't just a cosmetic difference... each mode serves a purpose. The Fighter mode is the fastest, but manuevers like a flying brick. The Battloid mode (when the Veritech transforms into a robot) is the slowest, yet offers you the greatest amount of flexibility when firing and moving. You can fire not only forwards, but backwards in this mode. The Gerwalk mode (the one that resembles a fighter with legs and arms sticking out from beneath it) is a nice balance between the two - you can't fire backwards like in Battloid mode, but you can manuever a lot faster than in Fighter mode. No matter what form you're in, you can fire the spread of missiles that the series made famous - however, you don't have an unlimited supply of them. They can be replenished by picking up missile icons that resemble the RDF logo. Other RDF logo icons will restore your shields - unlike most shmups, you actually have a "life" bar - and speed up your Veritech.

Battloid mode
The action is fast in CYM, with explosions flashing all over the screen and enemy mecha swarming everywhere. The only problem is that your missions never change, they just get harder. You fly through a fleet of mecha, go inside a battlecruiser and try to blow it up in sixty seconds. If you succeed, you do the same thing over again. And again. And again. It gets boring fairly quickly. On top of that, the music never changes at all. Sure, the music is upbeat, but after repeating a few bars it starts over again. The only respite you get from it is the stage clear music. The graphics are slightly below average for an early Famicom game - sure, it's easy to tell the different types of mecha apart, and the Veritech is nicely detailed, but the backgrounds simply repeat over and over, much like your missions and the music. For the most part, it's just space filled with explosions, the exterior of a battleship, and the interior of said ship. Boring.

To sum it up, CYM was based on a great series and would have made a great game - if the designers had included a lot more variety into it. As it is, it's merely a slightly below average shmup, overshadowed by later Famicom releases such as Gradius, Gradius II and Salamander, to name a few. Luckily Macross was later done right - later games, such as Zamuse's Macross: Scrambled Valkyrie for the Super Famicom, made up for all of the shortcomings that CYM had, while at the same time keeping all of the best things from the earlier game intact.


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Last updated: Sunday, December 28, 2003 05:41 AM