As a huge fan of giant robots duking it out, I played a lot of video games that would give me the opportunity to do so. The lack of a true Transformers video game in my youth aside, I made due with the Mechwarrior series and some of the early Armored Core games before those petered into mediocrity. The Mobile Suit Gundam fighting games aren’t in the same spirit, so I don’t count those. A video game based off Eureka Seven’s schematics, however, is a concept that had promise in theory but kind of flounders in execution.
To provide insight in my theory, here’s an abridged synopsis I’ve constructed about mechs in anime. (Disclaimer: None of this is based on calculated facts, just my own head) Throughout a solid portion of the 70’s, 80’s, and early 90’s anime development, giant robots in anime I watched at the time wear huge, towering, lumbering slabs of galvanized metal and steel with gigantic pulse rifles and beam sabres, wailing on each other with brute force. From Tetsujin to Mazinger Z and Voltron, mecha towered over the rest of the anime kingdom like…well, giant robots with guns and…..okay that metaphor failed. The Mobile Suit Gundam series and Macross franchises are the earliest mech shows I can remember that displayed the machines with varying degrees of agility and speed to add with their sheer power. It was Neon Genesis Evangelion, however, that singlehandedly altered the popular choice design for mechs in anime to this day, and by that I mean smaller, sleaker machines capable of precise movement at the will of the pilot. Hell some anime blatantly rip off the concept so close that the lawsuit grazed their foreheads as it sailed by (see RaXephon and Dead Aggressor Fafner).
This is where Eureka Seven comes in, an anime with a concept for mecha that assures me that giant robots are now so boring with the mainstream audience that we have to make them air surf in order to garner interest. As for the show itself, it started out kind of interesting, but I didn’t finish it. It just seemed to go on in no particular direction for episodes on end, and I eventually just stopped watching around the 30 episode mark merely because not much was happening. I like a few of the characters, namely Holland, Talho, Domenic and Sea Anemone, but that’s about it. Fortunately, nothing in the anime has much bearing to this game, since the events taking place in The New Wave occur prior to, so I can leave my bias at the door and explain why this game is not particularly good.
CONTROLS 4.5/10: At the crux of every bad video game is the ability to actually PLAY it. This will probably be a recurring theme with the games I have lined up, so bear with me if it gets repetitive. I can’t compare it to Victorious Boxers-level bad, there are too many variables in play, but these controls make piloting your LFO really tedious and annoying. In the anime, LFOs moved quick and darted around like mad avoiding enemy fire from constant angles, while in New Wave, your machine handles like a snowmobile on black ice. The control scheme is like a dumbed down amalgam of Virtual On and Armored Core, leaving the LFOs maneuvering around sluggish and barely responsive, with a marginal weapons cache.
DIFFICULTY 6/10: The game is pretty straightforward, and some missions are legitimately tough not at the fault of the controls. some of the stages that take you out of the LFO are a little trudging, but essentially reduced to wiping out all of the enemies on-screen. As before, I just sat back and took apart baddies with the Railgun instead of engaging and won most of the time, only slightly changing weapons. You can purchase upgrades, but you can pretty much get away with armor and dash boost related equipment. The bosses are pretty tough cookies, and the stages where you have to battle a seemingly endless onslaught of drones can be a bit head bashingly hard. The CPU will give you an assist partner, like Hooky, but if they die, game over and retry, which gets on my nerves, since their skill level seems to be set to Toddler. The more frequently you lose, the more health packs they give you, which hurts your grade upon completion of the level.
ANIME-RELATED SCORE 6.5/10: New Wave is its own story and doesn’t do anything to step on the continuity of the television show. It has its own cast of fun, yet token cast of mid 2000’s anime mecha misfits. The oddly named Sumner Sturgeon (What’s up with BONES’ character names??!), the main character and “prodigy” son….of a large fish, I guess. Steven, the by-the-books straight man. Hooky, the comic relief sidekick. Gillian, the high-spirited big sister of the team. And Ruri, Sumner’s love interest and lead female who is absent throughout most of the first game. I like them all, more than the cast of the TV show, actually, I wanted to kick Renton down the stairs after a while. While the story is nothing special, it’s decent in a bare bones kind of way and it’s good enough to warrant me playing throughout the games that are available in the U.S.. It’s supposed to be a trilogy, but I’m certain the third game did not make it out here.
IN CLOSING: Something decent probably would’ve cam better out of this game had a little more time had been put into the game engine to make it more fun. I always assume that developers want these anime games geared towards younger audiences, so they try to keep it as simple as possible without calling their fans stupid. This same problem occurred with the .hack//SIGN RPG games. I think they should go in with the assumption that anime fans have played more video games than just Tetris and Tamagatchi and can handle adaptability and challenge. Instead, Eureka Seven The New Wave caters to an incredibly unimpressive play style that dated even by 2005’s standards. Is there an anime based game out there that has respect for its audience? OVERALL GAME SCORE 5.5/10
PROS: I like the original characters very much. Voice acting is surprisingly decent.
CONS: Music absolutely blows and never stops!!!! Poor LFO controls. Comedically bad ADR and lip-synching. Uninspired weapon options and upgrades.