Did I get your attention?
Roy: I recently asked fellow Monster Hunter and UNIQLO enthusiast, Ryan, to write about his thoughts on the E.X. Troopers demo. Check it out!
Remember Lost Planet 2? Lots of people in the West weren’t keen on it, but its nuanced combat and big bosses made it feel a lot like Monster Hunter With Guns. It turns out Capcom was intentional about that approach, and wanted to give the game a ‘party-like’ shooter feel, but decided didn’t it fit the setting. (There’s a nice article about this at Siliconera.)
Lost Planet spins on, the third game in the series handed off to a western developer. However! Capcom themselves developed their own new Lost Planet and quietly announced it for Japan only, with good reason: It is very, very Japanese:
What is this hot mess? A hot-blooded, catch-phrase spouting, pink-haired main protagonist, a school-life(ish) setting, and a timid priestess girl who probably is connected to the soul of the planet — E.X. Troopers is unashamedly equal parts sugar, electro-pop, and anime tropes. It’s not hard to imagine why there are no plans to bring it to other territories. It would be tough localization. For starters, the main character keeps declaring something like, “I’m gonna be the brightest star in the sky!” I’m no professional translator, but I challenge anyone to un-stupify that line in English.
The game itself, though is in-fact The Monster Hunter Party: A fast-paced multiplayer action experience that borrows many elements of its inspiration, but keeps the core game light and accessible. If you’re familiar with Lost Planet you’ll see a lot of familiar weapons, vehicles, and enemies make appearances. The main cast are all members of NEVEC, which was something of an antagonistic entity from the previous games. The NEVEC of E.X. Troopers, however, is reappropriated into an organization that simply serves as the backdrop of the lighthearted story. E.X Troopers doesn’t feel like the previous Lost Planet titles, it’s both visually and mechanically something new. If you’re a fan of the series you’ll recognize many of the enemy and weapon designs, but you might be disappointed that your favorite gear doesn’t feel like it used to.
Jet Shoot Radio?
Gameplay is mission-based single-player and multiplayer. At your disposal is a three-pronged arsenal: a main weapon, sub-weapon, and melee attack. You’ll use each of the three in good measure too: spamming the enemy with bullets will not get you far, as each weapon’s clip requires a liberal recharge time before reloading (which is done automatically), anywhere from three to five seconds. This where it gets neat, because you’ll want to change-up attacks often as not to become vulnerable. Looking for ways to keep your assault seamless and maintain momentum by balancing your three attacks and recharge times is a core tenet of the gameplay.
I’m really fond of the game’s visual design, which is what drew my initial interest. Cutscenes take the form of kinetic comics with full voice, speech bubbles, and cameras dipping in-and-out of panels. Maybe it’s just blue sky deprivation syndrome, but I’m happy to play a game with bright colors and a not-too-serious setting. If anime isn’t your thing, you might not care too much for the cast, but in my time with the demo none of the characters grated on me and I was interested to learn more about them. It’s especially refreshing to see a protagonist like Bren that is cheerful and actually enjoys piloting his giant robot (unlike: most male anime protagonists). Serious question: would you go emo if you were forced to pilot a giant robot? No. No you would not. You would think it is awesome.
This situation would not make me sad.
E.X. Troopers is curious in that it’s being released cross-platform for the 3DS and PS3. Graphically the PS3 version is the superior, but the fidelity of the controls are more telling of the game’s 3DS parentage. This doesn’t mean the game has bad controls, but turning and aiming can feel a little too sensitive at times. I don’t have access to a Japanese 3DS, but I imagine the game feels a little more at home there. One might think of the PS3 version as an HD Remaster without the banner (and with actual online multiplayer).
You can find the demo on the Japanese PSN Store and 3DS eShop. One single and two multi-player missions are included, which can be played online with others over PSN. Oh, and what’s up with the Rathalos armor in the first screenshot? Key Monster Hunter Staff assisted with the game’s production, and the armor is one of a few unlockable extras. The demo’s scope is limited, but I’m curious to see where the Monster Hunter influence is visible in the final version. There’s a cafe where you can eat items to boost stats before missions, upgradeable weapons, and some sort of elemental damage system.
E.X. Troopers simply has a genuine enthusiasm for itself. It feels like the creative product of a company making a game that they love instead of shoehorning a game into a nebulous demographic. If you have a Japanese PSN account, there’s free demo available now, and the full game is available for PS3 and Nintendo 3Ds. I’ll be back with a detailed review after I spend some quality time with the full release.
About the Author: Ryan is a friend of Kotowari and My Fair Hunter. He helped tremendously during the editing process of the Monster Hunter Beginner’s Guide and has a deep desire to dispel the mysticism around the series. In addition to playing games, Ryan also has a keen eye for design and is an avid student of Japanese.
Be sure to follow Ryan on Twitter!