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Macross Ace Frontier – PSP review

  • macross ace frontier

    Macross Ace Frontier is basically the Macross version of Gundam Seed: Rengou vs. Z.A.F.T. Portable. For those that don’t know Macross, its another Japanese anime with robots. The japanese version of the game has actually be released more than two months ago and no words for a North American release yet, as usual. The main ones are different though as they can transform into three different forms – plane, half plane half robot and full robot mode. Check out the latest series called Macross Frontier which just ended recently (25 episodes in total).

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    Story and game play
    There are two game modes for Single player – campaign mode and free mode. Everyone should know what you can do in free mode (just incase you don’t, you can pick random levels to play). Campaign mode contains four stories from the anime series ranging from the very first series Macross, Macross Plus, Macross 7 and finally the newest Macross Frontier.

    I first started with the very first series Macross and first thing I don’t like right away is how crowded the menus are and its just so hard to navigate and too much to read (see image). It will take some time to get used to.

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    Missions are relatively short so its really good for people looking for on-the-go kind of games. There is one type of mission that I absolutely hate and Bandai Namco keeps implementing this type of mission in all these games – stupid crate pick up game where you have to pick up supply crates from one spot back to the ship which I find it really annoying and waste of time. Other than that, I don’t have much more to complain. It plays just as well as the Gundam counterpart. Also, you now have a partner that will assist you in missions as well and it does a pretty find job at helping instead of getting into your way. Your partner loves going out there all by itself sometimes. Unless you give your partner a specific task like defend, attack, grapple and operator (I assume the operator will tell you your current object if choosing this option)

    I would also like to point out that there are many large scale battles, while they are very intense and fun to play. As trade off, the game suffers frame rate problems during these battles.

    I haven’t had a chance to test but multiplayer mode supports up to 4 players.

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    Controls are identical as well (go figure) with one button for melee, range weapon, boost/jump and even the special attacks are the same (L + melee/change target/both). Enough with similarities, there are in fact differences between Macross and Gundam. First of all, as mentioned the main Macross robots can transform into three different modes (I know some Gundams are transformable too like Z Gundam, ZZ Gundam etc but they don’t have the half plan half robot form) with your analog button. I prefer the robot mode though because the other two modes you are constantly moving since you are a plane/half plane and I find it hard to control still as in the ones in the Gundam game. And as usual, you will unlock new robots, leveling up you and your partner after completing missions as well as abilities which is something new. Abilities like higher defense and further sight etc. Upon finishing up each series you will also unlock a few missions where you will get to play as the enemy from that series.

    Another major difference is weaponry, Macross robots are famous for their missiles. The game does a nice job of showing that by having two modes of missiles. The first one is your normal lock-on missiles for a single target and the second one allows you to lock-on to multiple targets (by holding the circle button and the computer will auto lock-on to the targets for you, provided you are in range) which I find pretty interesting. I also find it fun to launch missiles non-stop at targets until you run out. By the way, all weapons can be recharged and the recharge time can be reduced through upgrade. The missiles are kind of overpowered in my opinion, but then again you are deal with a lot more enemies in this game then in the Gundam ones.

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    There is nothing new in the upgrade section except it looks more crowded with the menu design. Your upgrades will reflect on your partner’s robot as well so you don’t have to waste your upgrade points on the same type of robot, doesn’t make sense to anyway. You can upgrade a wide range of options like having more ammo in your gun, longer boost, reduced recharge time, more HP and of course stronger weapons etc.

    Completely new to this game, or this type of game is the addition of customizing your own robots with different colors. The customization has three parts, main body, secondary body and the eyes. There are also many preset colors for you if you are too lazy to bother playing and testing with the colors yourself. This feature is a big PLUS as I always think being able to personalize your items, in this case, robots makes the game ten times more enjoyable because you can really call it your own.

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    Finally, you can also switch between first and third person view and I find it very helpful to be in first person when you are in the plane mode. It gives me the Ace Combat feeling actually. Pretty neat feature there! :)

    Graphics and audio
    Again, graphics are similar to its Gundam counterpart. I know I’ve been saying this for the past few PSP reviews but I think its true as you can’t really go any further on a PSP than it possibly can. All I can say is that its good enough to be enjoyable. This goes to audio as well, nothing new here, just your usual robot moving sound, machine/laser gun and missiles firing. And as long as the game uses actual music from the anime series, I’m happy. I would be even happier if they actually implemented songs with people actually singing like Gundam vs Gundam instead of just plain music.

    [correction] Its probably the first Macross series that doesn’t have songs, if you pick the Macross Frontier series, you will actually hear a song instead of just music on the very first level. So there are songs but not on every single level and I suspect only on a few levels.

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    Final verdict
    Another great game that I am sure Gundam/Macross or any robot fans will enjoy. While it didn’t try to reinvent the wheel, it did add a few new features to the game. The greatest feature being the ability to customize your robots with different colors. And again, tons of unlockables like robots, missions and character abilities. If you really want this game even if you don’t know Japanese, you can find it on yesasia and ebay as well.

    8/10

    macross ace frontier

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    This entry was posted on Friday, December 5th, 2008 at 7:59 pm

 

  1. #1 Chenkatun
    December 7th, 2008 at 8:27 am

    Lol =p, the game looks like GBA (Gundam Battle Universe), after seeing the screenshot with the “annoying” crate handling mission, it really is based on the gundam battle series engine isntead of Gundam vs series ;) . nice review though =]

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  2. #2 Chenkatun
    December 7th, 2008 at 8:29 am

    *isnstead = instead, typing error >.<

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