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Video Game / Car Battler Joe

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Car Battler Joe is an obscure Game Boy Advance Action RPG developed by Ancient (also responsible for Beyond Oasis) and published in the U.S. by Natsume. It was also released on the Wii U Virtual Console in 2015.

The plot is fairly standard—you, Joe, must find your missing father by traveling the wastelands and dropping off cargo between towns, entering tournaments along the way.

What makes the game unique is the action-oriented battle system and the sheer amount of customization available—there are over 3 million part combinations. All cars have weapons attached, used with the GBA's shoulder buttons, and you can employ both those and traps to wreck your opponents' cars.

This game provides examples of:

  • Action RPG: An arcade driving game with character levels and customizable equipment.
  • Adjective Noun Fred: The game's title is Noun Adjective Joe, but close enough.
  • Ancestral Weapon: Joe's G-COM that weaponizes his car was a gift from his father.
  • Arc Villain: In the first quarter of the game the antagonists are the Dohmo gang led by Shirley. Oddly enough you never fight her and instead come across her bumbling second-in-command Casey.
  • Back for the Finale: The Dohmo gang just happens to dissolve offscreen midway through the plot. Shirley and Casey then appear from out of nowhere at the end of the game to help Joe.
  • Big Bad: Ryu Mossoud, the leader of the criminal Empire gang.
  • Big Good: Sho Kaido, the leader of the benevolent Red Guns gang.
  • Birthday Beginning: The game begins on Joe's sixteenth birthday.
  • But Thou Must!: At certain points you get to pick between two choices that actually have the same outcome even if there's different dialogue for both.
  • Collision Damage: Only in the first battle, though, as you're using a regular car.
  • Cool Car: Every car in the game.
  • Chainsaw Good: A couple weapons are saws of various types.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: When you defeat Ken for the final time, he goes on a self-reflective rant about his inferiority complex towards his brother Sho, his master Jim and now Joe. Ken then concludes he's been taking things too seriously and that it's better for him and Joe to be friendly rivals.
  • Disappeared Dad: Joe's father Jim is missing for most of the story. After rumors that he's a part of the Empire gang, you find he's really been brainwashed by them.
  • Easing into the Adventure
  • Fiery Redhead: Joe has red hair and is a hot-blooded protagonist.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • Playing without the instruction manual can be difficult as many items have short labels, and unless you're familiar with cars, some terms may be confusing.
    • The game lets you upgrade and degrade equipment, stating certain combinations work better or worse at certain levels. But even looking at your machines stats it's hard to judge whether a combination of levels is working well or not.
    • The story loses direction towards the end, and you'll have to Talk to Everyone on a wild goose chase until you get the Red Guns clan to show up and start the end-game of the story.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: This goes for Joe and Pal.
  • Heroic Mime: Pal speaks for Joe, though the boy does get a single line at the very end of the story.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight:
    • When you fight Jim he has a perpetual shield on. When you get low on health, Sho arrives to destroy the shield and hand you a recovery item.
    • Same thing happens on the second phase of the final boss. Survive for a while until every other supporting character crashes their cars into the Big Bad.
  • In the Blood: "You're pretty good at this, kid! Must be your father's genes..."
  • Just a Kid: Joe is often looked down upon for being young, and proves himself over the course of the game.
  • Justified Tutorial: Joe's never driven a weaponized car before, so the tutorial teaches him how to. Thankfully, they're also skippable.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Joe is as good at driving and battling as his father.
  • Mecha Game: Cars are the mechas of choice in this game and are outfitted with weapons, shields, and other accessories.
  • The Rival: Ken Kaido, who has ties to both Joe's father and the Red Guns gang. He is something of an Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy in regards to car battling.
  • Robot Buddy: The aptly-named Pal is Joe's robot friend and companion.
  • Save Point: Various Link Points, which also double as an in-game library.
  • Serious Business: Justified since cars are used to get around.
  • Spiritual Trans-Pacific Equivalent: To the Apple II game "Autoduel" (the video game version of the RPG "Car Wars").
  • Vehicular Combat: All disputes and duels in the game are fought through car battling.
  • Weaponized Car: Every car in the game can be used as a weapon.