宇宙戦艦ヤマト ● Genre: Simulation ● Release Date: 12/12/1992 ● Developer: HUMAN ● Publisher: HUMAN ● Media: Super CD-ROM ● System Specific: PC-ENGINE
■SF ANIMATION MASTERPIECE !
SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO for the NEC PC-ENGINE is a simulation game based on the cult classic TV animation series of the same name created by the legendary illustrator「LEIJI MATSUMOTO」.
SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO the game puts you in command of the legendary battleship and her crew during their unforgettable one-year journey to save Earth from an invading and seemingly unbeatable alien force.
The series 26 episodes are translated into 9 different game scenarios where your leadership skills will determine whether the YAMATO will manage to return to Earth triumphantly or become lost forever among the endless sea of stars...
■THE STORY OF SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMOTO
In the year 2199, the「GAMILAS」, a militarized alien race from a planet far outside our solar system, declared war on Earth.
The GAMILAS began bombarding Earth with radioactive planetary bombs. Although all of the world's nations untied to fight the alien invaders, all of Earth's Defense Forces throughout our solar system were defeated one after another...
The constant radioactive bombardment eventually rendered the Earth's surface uninhabitable. To survive, the people of the world had to move to underground cities, kilometers below the surface of the Earth. However... The deadly radioactivity is slowly infiltrating the underground cities, and if this continues, it is estimated that in only one year's time all life on Earth will become extinct. Meanwhile the last remnants of the Earth's Defense Forces make their last stand near planet Pluto, but are ultimately defeated...
When all seems to be lost, an unidentified space craft crashes on planet Mars. Outside the small ship, a beautiful young woman lies dead, and in her hand what appears to be an advanced type of data capsule is recovered.
After being analyzed, the capsule is revealed to be a message from Queen STARSHA of ISCANDAR, the twin and rival planet of GAMILAS. It seems Queen STARSHA has become aware of the GAMILAS threat, and is offering Earth the「COSMO-CLEANER-D」, a machine capable of cleansing the planet of its radiation damage.
Included inside the capsule are also the blueprints for the「WAVE MOTION ENGINE」a technologically-advanced, faster-than-light engine, necessary to reach planet ISCANDAR as it is located 148,000 light years away from Earth.
With finally a ray of hope ahead, what's left of the Earth Defence Force decided to convert the ruins of the ancient Japanese battleship Yamato, a symbol of bravery and sacrifice, into Earth's ultimate space battleship and humanity's last hope of survival. With only a one year limit to travel 296,000 light years of distance, the SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO sails for the stars...
Given the rather simplistic game packaging and the complete lack of any gameplay info on the back cover. It can be hard, if not impossible for someone interested in the game to figure out on their own just what type of simulation game is SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO, or if it's any complex or difficult to play.
Well, the good news is that game is actually very simple to play and has a very low learning curve (move and fire, that's all there is to it, really). Thus the game can be fully enjoyed even by players without a good notion of the Japanese language.
Of course when it comes to simulation games, no matter how simple, knowing at least a bit of Japanese never hurts. (^^;
● Player Controls :
Control Pad ... Moves cursor / Operates bridge controls Button I ... Accept command Button II ... Cancel command Run Button ... Skips storyline cut-scenes Select Button ... Not used
■WELCOME TO THE BRIDGE, CAPTAIN !
SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO is played from the point of view of the Captain's chair in the main bridge of the ship.
The main screen panel lets you check both yours and the enemy's position in the area, and you can also see any enemies directly in front of the ship through the bridge window.
The YAMATO itself is controlled through the bridge operators with each member fulfilling a specific role in handling the ship.
In this aspect, and in spite of the rather simplistic gameplay mechanics, SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO succeeded in giving you the novelty sensation that you're controlling the ship just like in the TV series.
■CREW MEMBER INFORMATION
The most important crew members under you command are DAISUKE SHIMA the helmsman, and SUSUMU KODAI the gunner. They are the only bridge operators with direct control over the YAMATO, so during battles expect to find yourself switching control back and forth between them as you attempt to outmaneuver and shoot down the enemy.
Another important crew member is the WMS operator KENJIROH OHTA who can detect the damage received from the enemy and if necessary order immediate repairments on any damaged part of the ship - a function that will be vital for your survival during certain scenarios.
For the rest of the crew we have Chief TOKUGAWA who is in charge of handling the main energy reactor of the ship. He can get it going so that you can use the WMS capabilities of the YAMATO once the energy gauge fills up.
Radar Operator YUKI MORI can analyze the enemy units you will be fighting against, and the Gunner Assistant YASUO NANBU will be in charge of scrambling the「BLACK TIGER」fighter squadrons (more about this in the next section).
Finally, the remaining bridge crew members are Science Officer SHIRO SANADA and Chief Communications Officer YOSHIKAZU AIHARA. They don't play any active role in handling the ship though and will only be providing you with info about your current mission objective as well as any mission updates.
Oh, and last but not least, there's ANALYZER the bridge robot. You can use him to change the current BGM theme.
■WEAPONS OF FATE
The armament of the YAMATO consists of 14 stand-alone weapons located throughout the body of the ship. Each weapon is capable of firing only at targets located in a specific range and direction. So basically the weapons on the bow and deck can only hit the enemies in front of the ship. The ones on the portside and startside can hit the enemies to the sides. And the ones on the stern can hit any enemies coming from behind.
The strongest weapon at your disposal : the「WAVE MOTION GUN」is a special case and can only be used during certain scenarios and only against specific targets.
In order to use this super weapon you will need to activate the main energy reactor and then wait for energy gauge to fill up. No weapons should be used during this process otherwise the energy gauge will drop down drastically.
Every weapon in the YAMATO for that matter can only be fired once at a time before you have to wait for it to reload. And generally the stronger the weapon, the longer the reload time will be.
It goes without saying that you should always try to position the ship in a manner that will let you fire all of your currently available weapons at the enemy while you wait for the rest to be reloaded.
■BLACK TIGER SQUADRONS, SCRAMBLE !
Most of the enemy units you will face in the game will be other battleships. However most of them can send squadrons of fighter planes to chase and annoy the hell out of you.
These fighters move too fast for you to be able to outmaneuver them. And thanks to their small size and high mobility, they can be very hard to hit with any of the YAMATO weapons beyond the pulse lasers.
Thankfully you too can scramble your own squadrons of BLACK TIGERS to deal with these annoyances.
Up to 3 BLACK TIGER squadrons can be dispatched to fend off the enemy, and they can prove to be particularly helpful on scenarios where you will need conserve some of the ship's energy to be able to use its wave motion capabilities.
■BEHIND THE CAMERA
Without a doubt the main selling point of the game during its original release was its much promoted cinematic aspect.
SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO features no more and no less than 1 hour and 10 minutes worth of story cutscenes, which I don't think I need to mention is quite remarkable for a late 1992 release.
Of course anyone familiar with the PC-Engine would know how rudimentary the animated cutscenes looked on the system, specially in comparison with some of the late MEGA-CD releases, and lets not even mention anything from the 32-bit generation and beyond.
But for the16-bit cinematic standards of 1992, I think they were pretty good, and best of all, they captured perfectly the beautiful artwork of LEIJI MATSUMOTO.
And even better are the new and improved voice overs that were recorded specially for this production. The opening and ending themes from the TV anime series are also present in the game and they add nicely to the immersing cinematic experience. It is only regrettable that the rest of the music in the game is hardware generated and not red book audio quality.
■TO THE STARS AND BACK AGAIN...
With only 9 scenarios to play, the adventure certainly wasn't as long as I was hoping it to be, specially because of how enjoyable it was from start to finish. However I'm still glad that the available scenarios were all very engaging and a lot fun to play.
What I liked the most is how the scenarios felt very different from each other, and how most of them place the YAMATO in some type of precarious situation that will be up to you to sort out.
These pre-set scenarios were actually very beneficial for the overall gameplay experience, and that is because you will soon discover that under normal circumstances the YAMATO is practically an invincible warship of death!
And this unfortunately brings us to the only relevant flaw in the game : it's just too damn easy !
As just mentioned, the YAMATO is an overpowered monster, period! Its shielding and firing range capabilities are vastly superior to those of any enemy battleship in the game. I actually find it hilarious how sometimes you'll be able to shoot down the enemy battleships from outside of their own capable firing range (haw-haw, suckers!).
But in the end what makes dealing with the enemy a total cakewalk is the completely unbalanced repair ability of the YAMATO, as even during the most heated of times when it will be practically impossible to avoid getting hit by the enemy, you can still repair any damaged part of the ship and get it back to working order almost immediately.
Moreover this ability has ZERO cost and its only disadvantage, if you'd dare call it that even, is that you won't be able to use any weapons or parts of the ship that are currently undergoing repairments.
It's certainly a good thing the scenario design somehow manages to balance this problem (for the most part anyway) by giving you more interesting stuff to do than just destroying enemy units. Not to mention that very often you'll be forced to work with a heavily damaged YAMATO right from the start. So even if things won't get harder, at least they won't be get boring either.
SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO is definitely an interesting PCE game to consider, specially for fans of the source material.
I do have to say though that I've never liked when programmers spend way too much time making non-interactive cutscenes that only aim to replicate what already exists out there and better.
I mean, do they actually expect players to want to sit and watch the exact storyline of an anime or manga series in video game form instead of just watching or reading such anime or manga?
I'm all up for original or alternative story content, but when its the same thing, why not watch or read the source material instead?
I understand and even enjoy it when its done in small doses for the purpose of setting up the game. But whenever they overdo it I can't help but think it's just a big waste of play time.