Monday, September 7, 2015

PC Game Review: Mobile Light Force (1994, 2003, 2015)

Mobile Light Force is a vertical shoot 'em up (AKA shmup) and is also an Americanized port of the Japanese arcade game, Gunbird (1994). This game is about a group of heroes that must stop an evil gang from obtaining all the pieces of a magical mirror that will grant the evil gang any wish they desire.  Our heroes will put a stop to the the gang by collecting all of the pieces before they do. Our gang of heroes includes: Marion, a blond haired witch that flies on a broomstick.  Jason Last, a very flashy looking guy that uses a jetpack to get around. MILF 2000, a giant robot that has a very interesting name.  John Suarez, a muscular old man that flies an aircraft that's powered by bike pedals. Lastly, we have a mystical cloud riding woman named Yuan-Nang. Can this rag tag group save the world? (Click on "Read More" to read the full review).

The story in this game was something that I had to look up on the arcade version (which I have played on an actual arcade machine) as this version of the game cuts out the story completely and leaves you confused to what is going on. This move did make me scratch my head as this version could've easily had the story put in, especially from a version of the game that came out in 2003. Do not expect any story to be added into this port in future patches as it is an unadulterated version of the... Well... Adulterated version of the game that came out on Playstation. The story getting cut out did bother me as I would've liked to know what on Earth is going down.

The characters in this game also have different names for this version of the game, for the most part I didn't even notice until I saw the name, "MILF 2000". Is this robot supposed to be the sexual fantasy of every single teenage boy? I must admit, it is a handsome fellow but I haven't fantasized about sticking my potato in it's exhaust pipe. I was also a bit bothered with the Americanized name and artwork, the cover and title screen features three women that look like something out of an episode of Charlies Angels (1976 - 1981) or VIP (1998 - 2002) instead of a crazy 90's arcade game. The three women also do not appear in the actual gameplay and so this leads to a lot more confusion. I wanna take a guess and say that the three women and the name of the game (Mobile Light Force) is supposed to be a joke as if you take the first letters of each word you get "MLF", say it real fast and it sounds like MILF. Combine that with the cover art and you've got the idea.

Gameplay is very standard as all you do is shoot to survive, survive to shoot. Your main weapon can be powered up simply by blowing up enemies and surroundings until you see a power-up that's represented by the letter P. Collect enough of the P item and you will go from being a peashooter, into a killing machine. You also get a special attack that will cause some massive damage as well, you only get a limited number of them and you can get more by gaining a bomb item at the start of every level. Your special attacks will also refill once you have lost a life.

Each character has their own unique attack patterns and special attacks and that's good as the variety adds freshness to each time you replay this game. The gameplay is very smooth, responsive, and is also incredibly fun and it got fun to the point to where the gameplay became incredibly strong and satisfying, just a shame that the story was cut out. Difficulty in this game isn't too bad but it can still get pretty hard but far from being impossible. This game also has an unlimited amount of credits and so that'll make it near impossible to not see this game to the end, especially for players that aren't very good at these types of games. This game has eight levels of difficulty as well, so you do have a lot of range to set how intense you want this game to be.

I do have a problem with the gameplay, my problem is that the first level of the game changes each time you start up the game, that lead to a massive amount of confusion and especially so with a lack of a story and so it became harder to follow. The other weird thing about the game is that the score meter doesn't reset to zero once you have lost all of your lives, this can lead to people cheating to get an incredible high score. This isn't much a problem as it is seeing something that is very unorthodox to this kind of game to the point where it baffled me. This game does have the same load screens and load times that you'd see in the PS1 version but they really aren't that bad, the worst you get is a split microsecond load time before you get into a boss fight. I also didn't like that the attract mode has been butchered to where you only see the credits of those who worked on the game and some little footage of gameplay, the rest of the attract mode is all load screens and that's frustrating for those who like to watch attract modes.

This game does not take long to beat as you can complete this game in under thirty minutes. The gameplay is addictive enough to where you will play this game over and over and so you'll be playing this game for much longer than thirty minutes. One weird thing to see in a port of a PS1 game on PC (Steam) is that this game has achievements and yet they don't/won't in the PS1 classics section on PSN unless it is part of an HD collection.  Speaking of achievements, if you are a fan of achievement hunting then you'll find this one to be very easy to get them all.. Heck, I even wrote an achievement guide for this game that you can read "right here" (I know that's a cheap plug, sue me).

Whoever made this port from back in the day (2003 porting and not the 2015 porting) must've been very incompetent when it came to making this version of Gunbird. Well, to be fair, this version did come out in 2003 and so they must not have thought that this game would sell, even so, they didn't need to make this version a complete joke. Speaking of porting, time to comment on how the 2015 porting of the game looks. It is a straight port of the PS1 game and it is ported very well as everything runs fine and I didn't see any weird bugs from porting this to PC. You can even change the definition to run up to 720p and the game does look a bit blurry at max definition but that's to be expected as this is not a game that was made for current HD systems.

This being a direct port of the PS1 version, you can expect all of the Playstation controller symbols to appear for when the game is talking about how to control this game. You'd expect this to be confusing but it is surprisingly not, the game configuration menu has a nifty control set-up section to where you can set it up to play on the standard keyboard, laptops, USB controllers, xbox controllers, and you can even plug in your PS3 controller in for a more authentic experience. The control set-up also tells you which keys control which buttons in a very simple and effective way to where you will not be confused trying to figure out how to play the game.

This port of a port isn't perfect though as it does have some weird problems. The first problem is that it has an option for 1080p, sure, that might sound like a neat feature but the reason why it is a problem is due to it crashing the game every time you boot-up the game with the 1080p setting on. The other problem is that the local multiplayer doesn't work despite this game having a multiplayer option, reason why is that this version only recognises one controller and not a second one and so you'll have to play this game solo. The biggest problem is that you can not play this game offline as you'll have to be connected online all the time in order to play this game.

Graphics in this game look very nice, they are very fun to look at as there is a lot of stuff going on in the backgrounds. The graphics are also very clear to where you will know what to attack, avoid, ETC, and that's good as this game can get chaotic. Loved the designs of everything in general as they all had a lot of character and some nice detailing to where they are unforgettable. Animation is very smooth but can get choppy when the split microsecond load times hit. Music is very cool and does go along with the game very nicely and it also sounds very nice to boot. Sound effects are also very cool as they were used very well and just add to the atmosphere of the game.

Overall, I am very mixed on this port of the game as while it is nice to see this game get re-released, it is very weird to see that it was this version that got re-released instead. Do I recommend getting this version of the game? This is one of those cases where I am so mixed that I do not know how to give a single yes or no answer to it. What I can do is give you a yes and an no answer to it. I can recommend this game for if you want to play a good shooter if you don't care for this being the altered version of the game. I can't recommend this game for gaming purists though, it has been way too altered to where it is a different game. Good game, wrong version.

Game: Mobile Light Force
System: PC
Developer: Psikyo
Publisher: Console Classics
Genre: Action, Shoot 'em Up
Price: $4.99 (Steam)
Recommended: No

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