Sporting moves that come straight out of Tom and Jerry and story's the likes of which only the Japanese could dream up, Tech Romancer is the latest beat em up with a twist from the Capcom stables. Anyone familiar with the genre will feel instantly at home. There is the disparate group of brawlers, the cute little girls, the buxom wenches and the muscle bound brutes. Each pilots their building sized mech, which in the case of one Polin & Bolon, really is made of several buildings, and a boat, and a bus amongst other things!
The G Button
It will be a while and a lot of fights before the newcomer works out the bewildering array of moves, countermoves and combos. Even then, fights can take place and you will wonder just how the result came about. Capcom having taken to renaming the buttons on your game pad and cluttering the screen with as many meters, gauges and icons as it could muster. There are gauges to register armour strength, damage and a special gauge for those extra special attacks that can be unleashed at key moments. The 3D playfield is thankfully unobtrusive; it is actually little more than window dressing, backgrounds being little more than static and interactive scenery a handy source of power ups and additional weapons. The game is played in either story or challenge mode. The former wraps short story episodes around each fight and establishes new characters, the latter is much the same without the offbeat antics of the over amorous contestants. The former is where this reviewer headed to first, playing as the already mentioned Polin & Bolon. Is it possible to determine a person's character from whom they gravitate towards? I hope not. A small pink haired girl with helium enhanced vocals and a heart emblazoned dress, he can assure everyone, not his preference and further still from any personal likeness, honest. [Nobody's convinced Chris! -Tom] Points scored during each battle are amassed from fight to fight and can be used in the development room to unlock the many hidden items and extras, including mini VMU games, new characters and more besides. Such is the size and breadth of the development room and its many sub rooms, more time could easily be spent playing with new discoveries than actually fighting.
Capcom have hardly revolutionized the beat em up genre with this new installment, but since when was revolution part of the deal? What they have done is produced a well polished videogame, the presentation is slick and reminiscent of the anime that makes it way out of Japan. It could be argued that the last thing the Dreamcast needs now is yet another beat em up. But as this comes from the most prolific developer in the genre, and surprisingly, doesn't feature their most famous intellectual property, some extra attention is due. Tech Romancer makes a worthy addition to anyone's videogame library, its solid game play and quirky humour are a good antidote to the usual po-faced beat em ups of late.
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