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Name: Future Zero (62.50% in 4 votes)
Type: STG
Platform: WINDOWS
Company: Osis
Release date: 1999
Reviewed by: Lamuness

For those of you (especially for guys) in your mid-20s or higher and have been an anime fan since childhood, images of super robot animes in the 1960-70's might still flow inside your minds. Examples of such are Tenen 28-go (aka Gigantor in the US), Getta Robo, Mazinger-Z. Anyways these ancient super robot animes have their own feel to it which is totally different than the current robot anime like EVA, and including gundamn as well (we are talking about before the gundam era). There is an absolute feel of hot-bloodedness or some kinda "hyper-mode" feel to it when u watch these super robot animes and imagine if you are the pilot of these huge super heros. Future Zero will give you the exact feel to it too, and this is pretty much what is beautiful about this game - antiquity.

The story takes place in AD 2201 on earth where it's very peaceful planet and all nations have united to form the federation union. All of a sudden an unknown force who we call the Who Forces (WF) popped out of nowhere. The intention of WF is to kill all humans and claim the world theirs and their technology is so advanced that they swiped the federation armies with ease. Unfortunately, the federation has no power to defeat them. However, in one of the battles between the WF and the federation, the fed army accidentally uncovered a new-type WF mecha that the WF was transporting before they all engage in battle. Using this new WF technology, the world was given a hope to save themselves and the planet from the WF. This is just the prologue. From there you will branch out into 2 totally seperate and distinct stories - the Super Robot (SR) story and the Real Robot (RR) story. This setup IMHO is really good because it gives a balance of ancient super robots and modern real robots to the game to attract all kinds of mecha fans to play this game.

The SR story is about what happens after the recovery of the new-type WF mecha and its WF pilot inside, the Takion Lab in Japan (as usual) uses it to create the multi-form super robot Valtos. Valtos is controlled by 3 pilots and can change into 3 different forms for different combat abilities - Alpha, Beta, and Gamma Form. Beta Form is a very lightweight fly-type robot ideal for ariel combat with good speed and dodging abilities but has weak armor. Gamma Form is a tank-like mecha which really good armor and is suitable for underwater exploration, but has horrible speed. Alpha Form is the more balanced type but carries the ultimate anit-WF hizatsu weapon - V-Shine. For devoted super robot anime fans, by now you will see that this is a "complete" cop-out of the infamous Getta Robot series. Even alot of the weapons used are the same. I am not saying it's a bad thing though coz it really brings back memories.

The RR story involves not super robots, but more real-life robots which kinda resembles the ones in Virtual On (or rather, more like the Sol Tekkaman in the anime Tekkaman Blade) . Basically the military uses the newly-found WF technology to develop 3 mechas call the Direct Tracer - Herculey. Herculey-1 is an absolute close-combat mecha using lances and katanas as weapons. Herculey-2 is a middle-range mecha with a balanced set of shooting weapons. Herculey-3 is a high-range mecha with the with a long-range laser rifle attached. In addition, a set of mecha known as the Scarlet Ladies (all piloted by young girls) will serve as a back up force for the Herculeys. As you may realize by now, this scenario is more like the recent mecha anime we all know about.

Besides the difference in background story, even the battles have their own personality as well. For the Valtos story, since it's the "only" super hero, it's basically a one-man's-job. Most of the time you will see Valtos fighting alone, which can be a challenge if it's a 50-against-1 battle which is of course typical in super robot animes (or else it wouldn't be called a "super robot"). Meanwhile, the Herculey story is a more strategic game with a lot of mechas to control but all of them can withstand alot of damage or low HP. Now, of course this is really similar to the newer mecha anime (the pt is, you are not fighting alone).

With all those features to savor the die-hard mecha anime fans, Future Zero is a promising PC mecha game. However, I am not done yet. The best part of the game is that it's set up entirely like a TV anime as well. Each story has around 25-30 episodes, which is the typical length of a full anime series. For each episode, it's arranged like an real mecha Anime episode where at the beginning ppl talk etc and the suddenly the alarm goes off signaling an enemy attack and then all gets prepared for the actual battle (which is the climax of the anime episode but you do the fighting) and the after the battle is won you get a preview of the next episode and then u move on. This IMHO is what makes Future Zero so good that it can be considered a *true* mecha-anime game. With the addition of absolutely 100% full voice acting, even for the minor troops saying "take this" or "die~!!!" during battles, adds to the realism of mech-anime to the game. The hyper-mode-like yells for the pilots of the super robot Valtos is a sure killer; it has an absolute likeness of the 1960-70s mecha anime which makes the game really cool and really lovely mecha-anime game.

Battles. The battles are turn-based and take place in a isometric field. Each mecha has their own weapons and different ranges, power and bullet limits. If you attack a far-away enemy with say a missile, the more further away the enemy is, the less powerfull and accurate your attacks will be. In addition, depending on the mecha design, some mechas cannot do a counter attack if attacked from the side or especially the back (eg because the cannons are facing the front). All these designs add more realism to what's mentioned above. When 2 mechas engage in battle, a separate battle screen will appear with people yelling swearwords at each other and attack. One of the beauties of this game is that the animation of the robots are really vivid and the sound effects are really nicely done.

Bad points about Future Zero is very minimal because of the euthusiasm the player is guaranteed to put into the game. However, there are some minor problems I see. First the colors in graphics, although decent, are not too vivid. Also, I find that the Herculey story is way too weak compared to the Valtos story (but then I find the modern mecha anime to somewhat less interesting than the ancient super robot ones). Finally, probably the most annoying part of all is that the weapon accuracy calculation is very untruthful. In one single round, at least 4 times I got hit when the calculated accuracy are way below 50%. The best record is a hit when it's only 5%. I seriously think that either the game is cheating, or that there is a serious accuracy miscaluation. Therefore, you will end up using the infamous *save/load* routine very often.

Overall, Future Zero has got to be the BEST mecha-anime style SLG game I have every played. Its dual robot-type stories, full voice acting, vivid animations and most importantly, its beautifully laid-out anime-style storyline sequence makes the game to be far more better than other PC mecha games like Power Dolls. All mecha-anime fans (especially the die-hard 1960-70s ancient super-robot fans) should have no reason to miss out this game. One will definitely feel that it's like watching a mecha anime while playing Future Zero. You might end up yelling like the mecha pilots do when they unleash an attack, just like when we were little kids watching them on TV (which brings back childhood memories). Hisatsu!!! V-Shine!

PROS: Dual-robot storyline to savor both mecha fan types. Antiquity. Vivid and cool battle animations. Antiquity. 100% full voice acting. Antiquity. The whole damn game has a 200% mecha-anime feel to it.

CONS: Color needs more work, and so does the storyline for the Real Robot scenario. Weapon accuracy calculation problems?

HIGHLY RECOMMEND TO: Absolute die-hard mecha-anime fans, especially the old super robot ones, and especially Getta Robo.
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