Version tested: PSOne
Elemental Gearbolt (1998)
- Developer: Alfa System
- Publisher: Sony / Working Designs
As crazy Japanese-English names go, "Elemental Gearbolt" is right up there with Treasure's awesomely-named "Radiant Silvergun", to our minds. More than just a pretty name, though - it's also by far the most interesting and most gloriously presented lightgun game we've ever played. Unfortunately, for all the wonderful craft on display here, it had the unfortunate gall to combine anime cutscenes before anime was cool, a fantasy story before Peter Jackson filmed a short little ditty about hobbits, and gameplay that required a peripheral. Cue instant commercial oblivion.
That's tragic, because Elemental Gearbolt is brilliant. It's got intriguing play mechanics which turn the lightgun into a magical weapon with three different effects, rather than a conventional gun - so no reloading is involved, but some of the spells are quite slow or have different areas of effect. At the end of each level, you divide your points up between the "Score" pile and the "Experience" pile, and your character's attacks level up as you progress through a variety of pretty, imaginative environments and boss encounters.
Perhaps the greatest triumph of the game, though, is that it's got something no other lightgun game has ever offered - a superb plot. The whole game is framed by lovely 2D animated cutscenes, which follow the narrator - a future historian - through the various environments as he recounts the epic, tragic tale which unfolded in these locations in the past. A great storyline and RPG-style, high fantasy gameplay in a lightgun game? We have no idea how you'd make this work on PSP (or on the currently lightgun-lacking PS3), but by god, we hope someone works it out. Sadly, it was a Sony-published title, so a Wii version is out of the question.