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First Impressions: Overturn

Posted by Sean Aaron

Whilst many of us are used to WiiWare games consisting of puzzle games and the very odd platformer, we are starting to see some more ambitious games.

Overturn is one of these, a 3D arena-based robot fighting game which features not only 2-player split screen and a single player story (tournament) mode, but online play with up to four players -- truly impressive considering the game fits in only 200 blocks of memory in the Wii's internal storage.

There are a myriad of menus, but most of it is pretty easy to figure out for a non-Japanese speaker. You can set your name for solo and Wi-Fi play as well as choose your control configuration. You can either play with nunchuk and Wii Remote or both of those plus the Balance Board.

Story mode is what I spent the most time with. You have a choice of four robots initially each paired with a character who is represented by an anime cut-out drawing. You can display basic stats on your core body (head, torso and base) and then your arms which are used for fighting. Initially you have only two choices of arms, but in the course of winning tournaments you'll earn access to the same ones used by your defeated opponents. The other customisable feature is the colour of your OTM (OverTurn Mecha?): you can choose one colour for all changeable features or separately tint the base, torso/head and front and back of arms using RGB slider controls. It's a nice feature that can make an otherwise drab OTM a little fancier and distinct.

After tarting up your machine you can either do a single training battle against another robot (complete with configurable AI so you can get the hang of things without having to dodge fire) or jump right into a tournament. There are no points and no currency: you're playing for better weapons and personal satisfaction. Tournaments consist of a series of four bouts per grade. Each bout consists of an increasing number of one-on-one matches. The first is a single match; the second two, the third three matches and the fourth bout four consecutive matches against a different robot in each. Final matches in each tournament round are preceded by a little dialogue with another anime character cut-out using text bubbles.

Control is very much like Metroid Prime 3 with either the direction stick or the balance board used for movement and the view changing as your pointer moves to the edge of the screen. Even without a configurable dead zone it works pretty well. The balance board control is intuitive considering all the robots float around rather than walk on legs or roll on wheels, but honestly I'd prefer not to be standing the entire time I'm playing a game like this, so after my initial play I switched to just nunchuk and wiimote. A jerk of the nunchuk up causes you to jump into the air for a brief span of time so you can attack from above or dodge enemy fire. Z is your left arm weapon and B is the right. A+B can be held to charge up and fire a special weapon and C is used to recharge your stability metre. This metre goes down with each hit you take: when it runs out view switches to first person where you play a jigsaw minigame consisting of grabbing pieces of flashing background and putting them back into place within a few seconds. If you fail you'll fall back to earth and be vulnerable to attack until your OTM recovers, so it's worth taking the time to recharge that metre when necessary!

Sound effects are basic explosions and the music soundtrack is a nice nondescript techno. There are a bare handful of arenas which you encounter randomly: they're of good size and many offer cover of some kind or uneven surfaces. The action is fast-paced enough that you don't really have time to admire the scenery. Weapons are a range of different machine guns, mortars, laser cannons and energy swords. There's a general trade-off between weapon strength and fire/recharge rates. The robots have decent polygon counts and are nicely textured to create a pleasing look and feel for the game.

I tried to use the WiFi mode, but nobody was there; unlike other online games you can hang out without opponents and have the ability to do full customisation of your OTM as well as view leaderboards and register friends. Yes friend codes are supported, however random matches also possible with a choice of VS. or 1-4 player battle. In a nice touch pressing B brings up an entire menu of possible phrases to use whilst you're in the "lobby," unlike Tetris Party or Dr. Mario where you choose a few canned statements in advance of play and have to change them later. A nice feature of the leaderboards is that you can view the player's OTM as well as their initials and ranking -- very cool. Sadly I didn't get to see how I'd compare against another person; possibly the time zone was working against me, or like Alien Crush Returns, there's not that many people playing this game online, which is where local two-player split screen is welcome (if only the wife was more interested in fighting with giant robots than biting comments).

Of course the question you'll be asking is "will this leave Japan?" I wish I could answer that; not getting it upon release at the beginning of December was largely motivated by a hope that it would be localised. Studio Zan seems like a small outfit; the fact that all the menus and character text is in Japanese means there's a bit of localisation effort required, not to mention servers for online play. If a bigger outfit was behind it, I'd say yes, but I'm doubtful unless another publisher decides to do the job. Studio Zan should be proud regardless as they've done a game I really wouldn't have thought possible on WiiWare and done it well using less storage space than other developers have with less graphically-demanding games.

Update: UK based publisher Gamebridge will now be publishing this game outside of Japan. Happy days!

From the web

Game Screenshots

User Comments (56)



Yasume said:

Wow, thanks for all the info! This sure looks interesting. Let's hope it hits NA & EU.



Sean_Aaron said:

I was pleasantly surprised; it's only 800 points as well.

There's a mecha battle game coming in disc form from the publisher of such classics as Ninjabread Man called Battle Rage: The Robot Wars. It's unclear if this could be the first non-crap release from the Popcorn Games publisher. Also an arena battle game with customisable robots, though it lacks online play. I'm all for more robot fighting, so I hope that's good as well and that is definitely coming to North America and PAL territories.



AlexSays said:

I'm glad it's nice and all but it's NEVER leaving Japan.

Robots are a Japan thing. Not an American or European thing.



Dazza said:

Robots are a Japan thing. Not an American and European thing.

Quick someone tell Michael Bay before he makes another Transformers movie!

Thanks for the impressions Sean, I hope this hits US/EU eventually. You never know!



Bahamut_ZERO said:

Looks decent.

But what AlexSays, robots are a Japanese thing. What was the last Japan-only anime you saw without giant fighting robots?



Wiiloveit said:

Nice, if only we'd get something like this.
On a similar note: whatever happened to Robot Wars?



DarkLloyd said:


lol speak for your self i like robots like terminator for examples and other kinds like those ones from metal gear solid games rex for example



KDR_11k said:

Does it have jet boosters on the mechs that allow you to dash on the ground and in the air? I think it might be based on the Gundam arcade games.

And does painting your robot red make it go 3x as fast?



AlexSays said:

So you like big shiny robots that kill things?
Awesome, you fit the stereotype.

Japan loves anything robot. Robots that make sandwiches, robots that say things, they just love robots. They have monuments in honor of robots.

The only time Americans see robots is when they're in movies killing things. Robots aren't part of American culture. They're part of Japanese culture. This isn't too complicated unless you know nothing about other countries.

You saw a robot in a movie? That's great, I'm so happy for you.
Japanese people see robots on a daily basis.
This game was made for them, not us. We'll never see it and we don't deserve to do so. It's not our hobby and not something we love nearly as much as them.



Chunky_Droid said:

Man I could kill to have a robot make me sandwiches....

Nice impressions Sean, you're doing a good job



hal said:

@AlexSays: ummm.. robots are [fortunately, or not] as much a part of N.American culture as part of any other; not just killing.

lest we forget, Robots have been working in NA hospitals/medical district for the last decade or so.. UNIQLO will have them in NA stores also, so the relationship isn't that far-fetched lol

though, the general relationship in NA is kind of wary (probably rightly so), the idea that NA peoples are some how completely alien to a culture that they've mostly developed is kind of.. strange? lol

unless you call the 5 owners of NA media, 'the american' people, -- but, that would be crazy, no? lol
also, these robot-monuments, aren't they really monument to 'golem-mythos' of JP development history? + alot of those did kill things [save, Atom].



Toddr said:

@ AlexSays "The only time Americans see robots is when they're in movies killing things."

That's a stupid thing to say. This game is about robots killing each other, so according to your statement, this game is perfect for North America.



DarkLloyd said:


you may have the right to speak your mind but you dont decide what i am and im not sterotype im not all for robots that kills so watch what your saying and be nice man



AlexSays said:

I have no idea what you said, hal. Say that in a way that makes sense.
From what I gather you say robots are as big in America as anywhere because they're in hospitals. Hospitals have nothing to do with pop-culture, chief, so that has nothing to do with what I said.

Toddr, somehow I lost you. I said robots aren't big in America because the only time Americans care about them is when they're killing things in movies. Robot movies are huge but robot games not really. Japan loves robots for being robots. They love robot magazines, robot parties, robot underwear. Americans don't share that emphatic love and wouldn't see a robot game as appealing. That's why the game won't leave Japan. Nobody loves robots as much as them.

BlackFira, you're right I don't decide what you are. Your words do.



Toddr said:

I know what you mean, but this game is about robots killing robots, and according to what you said Americans like that sort of thing.



Sean_Aaron said:

@KDR_11k: No this has nothing to do with Gundam (though I believe there is a Gundam game just released for Xbox 360) and no there's no boosters, though since the other robot is trying to kick your ass rather than run away it's not a problem.

@chunky_droid: Cheers, look out for a Bubble Bobble preview next week!

@AlexSays: I agree that robots are much more a part of Japanese culture, however there have been a number of robot games in the States; in fact Armored Core 4 was recently released there for PS3 if I'm not mistaken. I think the odds against this game are more to do with the Japanese developer being small and this game not being noticed by Western publishers as it's a WiiWare title.



hal said:

*i'll try:
no, sir. the point is: the general relationship of NA peoples to 'robotics' is not only about violence + 'null' interaction; e.g. exposure in a delicate fields like military/civilian medical districts as well as, now, retail**.. it's not one-sided, it's varied.

*just because you've had trouble reading it, doesn't mean it makes no sense (i.e. french, italian, german, ect.)

**remember, vast majority of things developed for civilian use (Jeans, T-shirts, TVs, VGs,ect.) came from the Military, + NASA adaption.. so, in a way, they are all POP culture lol

another note: have you seen B.E.A.R.(yes, it's real lol)? anyone who's rescued by one of these things is bound to have been very deeply 'impressed'.. hence they have made a very deep impact, yet again, on XXI century culture. [typography/linguistics aren't one-sided either.]



AlexSays said:

Yeah but Toddr, this WiiWare game isn't as big as a movie. With a movie there's previews of the robots killing each other. With this game you'd be asking people to download a robot game for the fun of downloading a robot game. Most Americans downloading from WiiWare don't come to this site - sorry Dazza - so they won't know what the game is all about.

It's all very confusing, the best example I can think of is Chibi Robo. Nobody bought the game except people in Japan, so Nintendo decided to port the game to the Wii and release it again. All people knew was that the game had a robot, and that wasn't enough. They'd have to put on the Wii Shop Channel "ROBOTS KILL ROBOTS HERE" lol

And yeah Sean, Armored Core 4 was just released on the 360 and PS3, and has sold relatively well. But it's another game in a long-running franchise, so it has a solid fan base. I believe people are buying it because it's a great game and they know the franchise rather than their love for robots. The 360 and PS3 gamers that have researched that game don't make up the majority of people downloading WiiWare titles, either.



Sean_Aaron said:

Alex, you're reaching there.

I still say the best console-based robot game was Iron Soldier and it's sequel on the Atari Jaguar. You had giant robots and you could smash buildings and destroy enemies with upgradable weapons and all. Terrific game on a doomed system.



hal said:

@Sean Aaron: cool previews/blog, btw. maybe we should all just get JP Wiis! that would even out VC for sure.

always being extremely curious, must ask: is 'robots', that is, general robotic development/use, really that 'central' to JP culture; or, could it be the subjective/psychological relationship that may run parallel to it? (an e.g.)

much like auto-parts/factories relate 1900s to [roughly] present US music + other literature (e.g. chuck berry, wiliam s. burroughs, rich boy, iggy pop, ect.) [though, the difference being, cars are more 'in use'.]



Mik said:

Very nice little introduction, Sean Aaron, to what I hope will turn out into a lovely little game that could appeal to a wide array of gamers.



KDR_11k said:

Sean: It's just that most japanese third person arena shooters are based on that game design.

Bass: Same game design

The most complete description of the basic system that I can find is in the Higurashi Daybreak description.

Yeah, okay, Virtual On predates Gundam VS by a fair margin but it seems the Gundam VS series is used as the comparison usually.

Or Gotcha Force, if you've played that back on the GC...



Objection said:

The only robo game I've played is Custom Robo (GCN). How does that compare to this title? (Hopefully its better, as CR was only okay.)



BulbasaurusRex said:

Yes, first an FPS, now a fighting game! Now we just need a beat-'em-up. Please come to North America!

By the way, I personally think a lot of North Americans (myself included) and Europeans would download a game based on the description of it being a "robot fighting game." Robot culture in general may be a lot stronger in Japan, but fighting games have a strong worldwide appeal, and robots are generally thought of as cool and strong things with which to fight.



KnucklesSonic8 said:

Thanks for the impressions! I've been REALLY wanting this to come to NA since I heard about it. I still hope it comes. It's a must-buy for me.



Toddr said:

@AlexSays "Yeah but Toddr, this WiiWare game isn't as big as a movie."

America isn't only exposed to robots from movies, think about the Roomba, it's a robotic vacuum cleaner. Sure, it doesn't go around destroying everything, but it's still a robot that most americans know about that's not from movies.



AlexSays said:

Most Americans have no idea what Roomba is.

...I didn't even know about Roomba.



Toddr said:

@ AlexSays "I'm glad it's nice and all but it's NEVER leaving Japan."

You seem to be really against this game coming out in North America. How do you know this for sure?



longtimegamer said:

This actually reminds me of a tv show some years ago. It had people using remote control robots to battle. You'd have hazards in the arena too. Anyone remember that?



Toddr said:

Could it be Medabots? That's the only show I can think of that might be like that.



longtimegamer said:

@AlexSays - I actually bought Chibi Robo for my fiance. Personally I think robots are cool. I think lots of people think this too, not just japan.



Stratos said:

@#36 Battle Bots, right? There were at least two different shows. I watched them from time to time.

Also, Wall-E, R2-D2, C-3PO, 2001, A Space Odyssey, the Jetsons' robot, Transformers, Data of Star Trek fame...the pirates on the Disney ride... (now I'm stretching it...)
There are lots of robots in popular culture.



Ricardo91 said:

@Alexsays. I think the reason Chibi-Robo didn't sell well in the US was because it was a cutesy game about doing chores, something that doesn't really appeal to us GTA folk.

And also, while it is true robots aren't nearly as popular as they are in Japan, they're significant enough in American culture for this game to warrant a release here. I'd love to see this game come to America, as any game involving robots shooting/beating the crap out of each other is a winner in my book.



Sean_Aaron said:

Cheers hal (sorry if you don't dig my blog; I've added pictures though!). I clearly thought it was worth getting a Japanese Wii, though I'll note I got mine 2nd hand on eBay for a song (about £80 all-in). My main motivation was access to Shanghai and Mahjong games (and being able to properly play Mr. Driller Drill Land on GC), but WiiWare and VC availability has totally justified it. The 200 point discount for Megadrive games alone is worth it.

@KDR_11k: "Sean: It's just that most japanese third person arena shooters are based on that game design."

I see, I wasn't aware of that. I skipped out the last console generation, so the last I knew of Gundam was some import Playstation games that were basically not-too-great shooters a la Macross games of the time and not of much interest to me. I do remember seeing Virtual On in the arcades (I think), and this is a similar style.

I'll probably put up a full review on my blog in a few days after I get some more time with it. I was mistaken about there being grades of tournaments. The "D" that appeared after I finished each of the first four was my rating (I guess I suck!). I replayed the first two yesterday and turned the first one into an A and the second a C. I'm not sure what determines this. I suspect it's down to how much damage you take overall, but it's not like it gives you a results page after a tournament is over.



PiratePete said:

@ Sean Aaron: Battle Rage: The Robot Wars uses 3D glasses for its gameplay, which is cool. But, as you said, Data Design Interactive (shudder)

I don't know about USA, but UK had Robot Wars (TV show), with Sir Kill-a-lot among other robots.



RadioShadow said:

"But what AlexSays, robots are a Japanese thing. What was the last Japan-only anime you saw without giant fighting robots?"

Err... Sailor Moon. That didn't have giant robots... I think.



hal said:

@Sean Aaron: lol nooo, it's cool! [just don't like the word blog lol] (sry for the weirdness lol)

@RadioShadow: Sailor Moon wasn't 'japan-only' .



KDR_11k said:

A list would be pointless but there are plenty of animes with a regular modern day setting which obviously means no robots.



Sean_Aaron said:

@hal: Cheers, I actually suspected you weren't making a dig, but I'm used to getting slagged off for my dry verbosity (many Eurogamer regulars have been particularly helpful in pointing out my shortcomings .

Yeah, Robot Wars I remember seeing that on cable in the States and in the UK after I moved here. That would probably make a good full-featured disc game provided you had a parts/robot editor a la Blast Works where you could make anything you could think of and share stuff. Actually why hasn't someone already made this game?!?

I completed the basic tournaments yesterday and it ends with a still shot of the character standing next to his robot. There's no sense of scale in the game itself. Still not clear if the character is supposed to be riding inside them; the OTM is about as tall as a bull elephant -- if you care about that.

I'll try to get a full review written up today. WiFi still looks dead; I suspect this got a lot of action initially and people have moved on. Either that or nobody's playing it when I'm awake (oddly I have no problem getting a Yakuman Wii game going regardless of time of day -- guess online Mahjong is so popular in Japan there's always someone wanting to play).



XCWarrior said:

ROBOT WARS THE VIDEO GAME! SWEET! Would love it if you could make your own robots, but still looks like fun. We'll never see it I bet.



lockelocke said:

Um, if you're going to say that liking robots is a tendency limited to certain groups of people, I would say it's safe to throw us videogame nerds in the mix. So, how about that? The japanese and videogame nerds. That seems fair.
And to ramble further, saying that Americans won't widely accept a game about robots is like saying that the Japanese wouldn't accept a game about a Kurt Russel based white government op working on the behalf of America (Metal Gear, anyone?)



MetaMorphine said:

So happy they will release that game monday (3rd of august)!!!!
Good graphics, good game play with the Wii-mote, even with Wii-balance board. For those who like Virtual-On, go ahead!
It s so cool, especially the on-line mode!
I played the JAP version and really liked it. Also, 800 Wii points, it is more than reasonable price...



MetaMorphine said:

Studio Zan, the developer of the WiiWare™ game titled “Overturn” is happy to announce, the “Challenge the Overturn Developers Weekend.”

This weekend from September 3rd to the 6th, the developers of Overtu...rn will be online between 6PM and midnight LA time (Pacific Standard Time)!
If you find someone online named “StudioZan” (example attached) in one of the Overturn matches – then that’s one of the developers of the game!

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