Front Mission

Front Mission

Front Mission

Nothing to do with lads' mags. Although it does have a few Wanzers.

Front Mission on the DS is pretty much exactly the same game as Front Mission on the SNES. Which, since it wasn't ever released in Europe, might not mean much to you unless you're the sort of hardened import gamer for whom only kanji will suffice. So, just in case you aren't, it means this: it's a turn-based strategy game in which squads of bipedal metal robots wander across isometric landscapes and fight each other with guns. And the robots are called wanzers. Snigger.

It also means that the visual aesthetics and interface design both look and feel a bit dated. Take, for example, the character art. Yoshitaka Amano, who's better known for his work on the Final Fantasy series (and ‘The Dream Hunters', his collaboration with Neil Gaiman), has rightfully acquired a near legendary status in the intervening years but, here, the pixelly interpretations of his character designs resemble slightly dodgy fan art. So the game's lead character, who goes by the slightly strange name of Royd, resembles a 13-year-old lesbian, even though she's actually a he, as becomes clear when his fiancee gets blown up at the start of the game.

In fact, the slightly silly backstory, sparked into life by this tragic murder, is equally amateurish, featuring the sort of dystopian guff that passed for the height of sci-fi storytelling twelve years ago. It basically consists of two fictional superpowers (the Oceania Community Union or OCU and the United States of the New Continent or USNC) fighting it out because of failed peace treaties and so on. But in spite of all the decade-old foibles, the game does have a period charm that shines through even now.

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