Reviews: Virtual On
Force Memorial Box (X Box 360) - Part 1
Force for the Xbox360 was brought out in two versions: A Japan-exclusive Memorial Box and a more widely released standard version. Both have the game in region-free format, so it will run on any Xbox360. In this review I will have a look at the Memorial Box which I ordered in Japan. The Memorial Box is a sizeable box, about 30x20x7 cm in size, white with some black text informing us what it is. Very fancy and collectible. It includes the following: Virtual On Force for the Xbox360 with manual, model kits and action figure promotion leaflet, and promotional booklet for Border Break (same as standard edition, what follows is what sets the Box apart) in a white cardboard sleeve with black lettering, 6-disc Audio CD set in a cardboard sleeve, Memorial Book, Fetish Code card, and two superballs that look like Tangram. So let's have a closer look. The superballs are very bouncy and actually consist of a black half and a transparent plastic half, with Tangram's 'eye' sandwiched in between. One is red Tangram, the other blue Tangram. The Fetish Code card is a card with a special code that you can use to unlock the various breast sizes for Fei-Yen and Angelan, going from AA35 to G65. The card can also be bought outside of the Memorial Box. You'll need to create a Japanese Xbox360 account to enter the code (instructions can be found on the web, e.g. Oratan Forums), but the game itself and the actual add-on works with any Xbox Gold account. Now, being a fan of small breasts I was disappointed to find Angelan cannot have AA breas...wait, what am I writing? Ahem. The Memorial Book is a thick (+- 1 cm) 150-page book detailing the history of Virtual On, from Operation Moon Gate to Force and from 1995 to 2011. It has loads of color illustrations showing the various mechs in their different incarnations, multiple pictures showing posters and the like, pre-production lineart, and a lot of text (some reprinted from earlier Virtual On books, some new). Which unfortunately is in Japanese. Which I cannot read. The 6-disc Audio CD set contains much of the music released for Virtual On, but not all of it. It has one disc for OMG, which seems to contain the same music as the original VOOM soundtrack, and some more tracks, including one with all the voices...looks like I'm running out of room. To part 2!
Operation Moongate (PC version)
I recently managed to pick up the Japanese version (= US version except help files), after wanting it for a very long time. It's a fun game: Installation (8/10): Runs on Win95/98/Me (tested on 98SE). Doesn't force you to install an older version of Direct X, like many older games. The CD-ROM needs to stay in the drive while playing, not due to copy protection, but because it reads the music tracks off the CD. Bonus: the CD is in Redbook format (data/audio tracks) and plays the soundtrack in a standard CD player. Configuration and Options (9/10): Allows keyboard, joystick, gamepad, dual joystick, and Sega Twinstick use, for one or two players. Keyboard is fully configurable, including numeric keypad. LAN and network play (not tested). The length and number of matches can also be customized. Options are provided to change the color schemes of your mech and the enemies. Graphics (7/10) and Sound (9/10): The graphics are pixelated and the high resolution is also not very good. Strangely, a high-quality introduction movie is included with the game but not used, which makes me wonder if the graphics can be improved with some hidden option. The frame-rate is good. The soundtracks are very good and have a technopop feel to them. Very heavy on the bass at times (Jaguarandi's stage especially). Controls and Gameplay (9/10): The controls are excellent, even with the keyboard. Each mech has its own handling. For such an old game (1995) the mechs move very realistically and smooth. They have many, many different moves and attacks, both long-distance and close-range, yet each mech has its own characteristics. It's easy to find one that suits your tastes (I'm currently mainly using Viper II). Dual player mode is kinda crappy, unless you have a very large monitor. Each player gets a screen that's about 1/4 of the size of your monitor. These are staggered diagonally. One note: You may want to use a PS 2-style dual analog stick gamepad, as the play is too fast for my keyboard at times. Although the game is short (8 stages + 1 boss and 1 secret stage), the variability of the fights, 8 different mechs, and 4 difficulties more than make up for this. Usually fighting games bore me after a while, but this one doesn't. The speed of the game (90 seconds tops) makes it a very intensive experience.