WarTech: Senko no Ronde Review - The Next Level

Game Profile

Xbox 360
Release date:
May 29, 2007
1 - 2

WarTech: Senko no Ronde

Welcome to the bullet hell you unleash yourself.

Review by Aaron Drewniak (Email)
June 25th 2007

As a fan of shmups, a devotee of fighting games, and proud owner of all three of G.Rev's previous releases, I'm uniquely suited to tackle their first US arrival, brought over by the daring people at Ubisoft. Unique is always something people have a hard time with in gaming. They need to classify. Is it a vertical shooter? Is it a 2D fighting game? Is it like Smash TV, Psychic Force, or Virtual On? Really, Senko none of those things, though it might pinch an idea or two from them. It's a top down, elegant battle between two advanced mecha, spewing bullets and morphing into monstrous boss forms all to bring the other down. In other words, a bullet ballet.

I don't quite know what the story is. Earth was lost in the usual apocalypse, humanity moved into the rest of the solar system, with some vague power struggles and a terrorist incident from six years past that seems to involve the major players in some way. It's unfortunate that the characters don't have personal introductions to establish them, instead of forcing you to dive into the game's encyclopedia to make any sense of their endings. Another problem is some of the dialogue takes place during battle when you have other things to worry about, made more difficult by being voiced in Japanese. Cut-scenes are simple still frames of the very moe character designs, where even the guys are rather feminine and cute. While not the thrust of the game, this seems a shame when there's a solid story lurking in the background.

To importers and other niche gamers, they'll be thrilled for Ubisoft to take such a risk in releasing a game that seemed certain to remain behind in Japan.

The battling is what you've come here for, and what sweet sweet battling it is. Senko no Ronde is a one on one fighting game first, and a shooter at a distance second. There are eight characters to choose from, each with their own personal mecha (or rounder as they're called), loaded down with a vast array of death-dealing armaments. What's truly rare in a fighting game is here these opponents are all superbly balanced. There's really no situation where one particular fighter has a unbeatable advantage of the other, and in fact if you are getting clobbered, it's still possible to turn the whole thing around and end up the winner, thanks mostly to it's B.O.S.S. system.

I don't remember what this cute acronym stands for. It doesn't really matter. What it means is at almost any time you can transform your rounder into a far more powerful form, unleashing a bullet storm from Hades to obliterate your foe, which might even partially refill your life gauge when its over. What makes this balanced is first of all you can't go BOSS when your enemy is in that mode, so he can beat you to the punch. Transforming into a boss makes you a much larger target, with enemy fire quickly cutting down your time in that mode, leaving you with a depleted energy gauge, which happens to power your shields. There's also an ultimate, more powerful BOSS form that can be triggered when you're life gauge is empty, which can crush the AI at times, but expect real live enemies to beat you to the punch. The second unfortunate thing is this system all breaks down against the more traditional bosses you'll face once in each story mode, which the overall game design is frustratingly unsuited for. There are five difficulty settings that scale the damage and overall aggressiveness the AI unleashes though, so you can adjust the single mode to suit your playing abilities.

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