Preview - JVC take a wacky Japanese concept title and convert it to the West - could be a surprise hit for the PSOne!
The game teaches you to drive mechanical diggers with a multitude of bizarre events ranging from rescuing turtles to playing ten-pin with a beach ball. Most of the tasks can be played against the clock in single player mode, or against an opponent's time in multiplayer. JVC expects the game to appeal to gamers both young and old. During our visit to JVC's UK headquarters we got a chance to play Power Diggerz for some time with one of the firm's PR officers, and it seems that thanks to the shear variety of tasks on hand and the subtle difficulty level the game is remarkably addictive. One of the first challenges was simply to duff up a limousine, and it acted as a good opportunity to suss out the controls. You use your left analogue stick to control extension of the arm, and general movement from side to side, while the X and Triangle buttons move the arm up and down respectively. It's surprisingly intuitive after a while, and no doubt after a couple of hours of it, manipulating the arm will become child's play, and that's going to be important, because a lot of the tasks are quite delicate! For starters, there's a fairground loop-of-wire style challenge, where you have to manoeuvre the claw through a maze whilst avoiding the sides and the ceiling, which is bobbing up and down. The idea is to try and get as far as possible while the clock is ticking, but the challenge really lies in moving quickly and avoiding the walls. If you hit them, you get penalised and knocked back a few moves, so it's all about gauging how much you can get done before the ceiling sinks back down to block you off.
The Spice of Life
Another challenge is the aforementioned beach ball ten-pin. Your digger sits next to a beach ball and you have to try and angle the action of the arm to hit the ball up into the slightly elevated pins. It's pretty tricky, and requires some quite deft manoeuvring of the stick. There are some more serious digging challenges as well. For instance, one task consists of digging a trench in a certain amount of time, and it's quite precise work. With the two of us playing the game each task became pretty competitive! Although we didn't see it because of time constraints, the game will also feature a reward system that allows you to earn credits by completing each task before the clock runs down, and buy bigger and more powerful vehicles thereafter. Elsewhere, there is also the option to create your own tasks and save them to a memory card - the interface looked pretty simple, although we're not sure just how much variety you will be able to build into each of your challenges. With minigames, modes for multiple players and a healthy range of tasks to occupy even the most gifted of foremen, Power Diggerz could well end up being a surprise success for JVC in this country. We certainly wish them well with it, and hope that their boldness in bringing such a risky title to Europe will be reflected by other publishers.