Posted by Brad Long
WiiWare's first Mech-based fighting game enters the arena, but is it a champ or a chump?
WiiWare is very sparse when it comes to games that feature massive, hulking robots battling it out in an enclosed arena. Studio Zan therefore don't have to face much competition in the genre, so with that in mind let's delve into this game and see if they've taken the time to make this one worth owning.
Upon booting up the machine it’s obvious much care has been taken lavished on the game's presentation - it's absolutely top-notch. The menus are very slick, with a well-presented 3D animated background. All the modes are self-explanatory, with Story, Wi-Fi, VS Local and Options. Navigation is a breeze and it’s impossible to get lost.
The graphics are sharp and clear, if a little sparse in the arenas, but there’s definitely nothing distracting in the heat of battle. The different weapons added to the Mechs were all cosmetically different which is welcome. The arenas in which the fights take place are quite small but the close proximity battling this encourages is most definitely good fun, and all arenas have their own theme to them and a different amount of cover to hide behind, which helps to keep things fresh and interesting.
The sound however leaves a lot to be desired; the music is pretty generic and the spot effects are standard stuff. Oddly, when an opponent gets hit with a weapon (including shurikens, machine guns and rocket launchers), next to no sound is made. A “HIT” indicator does come up when an you successfully land an attack so it’s not like it’s hard to tell how well you’re doing, but a bit more audio accompaniment could have made all the difference there.
The game’s control default is the standard Wii Remote / Nunchuk combo, with optional Balance Board support (which just replaces the Nunchuk’s control stick). Beware though, as the balance board option is very hard to get used to, but thankfully with a bit of perseverance it can be mastered and actually boasts surprising accuracy. The game features an automatic calibration for the Balance Board so it supports your natural lean, so if someone had a natural stance slightly to the left, the game notices that.
If you don't own a Balance Board then don't fret as the standalone Wii Remote / Nunchuk combo is actually a shade more accurate. Aiming is done by IR pointer and controls similarly to Metroid Prime 3. Turning also works similarly, with the IR pointing to the side of the screen. Each arm’s weapon is mapped to Z and B, with C turning the mech to automatically face the opponent.
The Story Mode is there mostly to unlock weapons for use in Wi-Fi and VS Local mode. It starts off with you selecting from one of four OTMs (OverTurn Mech) and then giving it a unique moniker. A well drawn but generic Anime chick will then pop up and explain all that is needed to know about the game, and what can be done in the garage.
The garage allows customization for different weapons, and has a colour option to give the OTM an individual feel. This thankfully comes with an RGB slider that gives almost limitless color options. In addition to this, individual body parts and weapons can be changed, too.
Test mode is almost essential to strategy and planning. A dummy OTM is the opponent; it cannot shoot but can be told to remain motionless or constantly evade weapon fire to the best of its ability, and is great for aiming practice. Test mode is also a good way to get used to the new weaponry acquired along the way.
Once the first tournament begins, it starts of really easy but gets insanely difficult just after halfway through the story. Studio Zan have found a way to get around this though - if the AI wins three times in a row the game asks if you’d like to continue, but handicap your opponent to 75% health. If the AI is still too hard, it’ll ask to drag it down to 50%. We'll admit in the later stages this became a standard option!
However, the meat of the game has to be the multiplayer portion. The online play in this game is fantastic. Leaderboards are included for both friends and the country of origin. There are two main modes, VS (one-on-one) and Battle Royale (for up to four people). It appears that you can only play against random people within your own region, we found this to be a lag free and enjoyable experience.
Finding a random opponent for VS matches took less than 30 seconds, and finding three opponents for Battle Royale matches oddly took less time; this quick setup of matches definitely adds to the pick up and play mentality of this game. It’s also interesting to see what other people have done with their mechs, color and weapon-wise - some look absolutely fantastic. The game supports pre-made phrases which can be used while waiting for opponents and just before entering a match, much like Mario Kart, except OverTurn has 40 different options, including some impressive smileys!
Competitive Mech fans will be in heaven with this release. While the single-layer aspect of OverTurn is a little underwhelming and can be completed with relative ease, the impressive nature of the online multiplayer is practically worth the price of purchase alone. Studio Zan has done a wonderful job with its WiiWare debut and is a company worthy of future inspection.