Black Rock Shooter: The Game (PSN) Review
Spawned from the mind of talented artist Ryohei "Huke" Fuke, the popular Black Rock Shooter franchise gets its very own cleverly named video game Black Rock Shooter: The Game. Though the game originally came out for the PSP in Japan in August of 2011, players in North America and Europe can now download the game from the Playstation Network thanks to the efforts NIS America.
The story starts off in 2032, where aliens invade the Earth and by 2051 there are only twelve humans left. You play as a young girl known as Black Rock Shooter who is a cloned combat android given the task of helping the last remaining humans survive. Naturally, there is more to the aliens and Black Rock Shooter than meets the eye.
Black Rock Shooter: The Game plays through a mission style format where you select a stage and play through small missions. Unfortunately, most of these missions consist of mainly going from Point A to Point B on the map. There are several instances where you do get to control a motorcycle and slash enemies in half, but those missions are few and far between. Similar to any role-playing game, you usually traverse through mission levels from a third-person view as Black Rock Shooter and run into enemies to battle them. There are treasure chests to find as well as areas that require you to press the X button to perform an action like jumping and breaking open crates. Many of the missions take place in various locations such as New York, Moscow and Fuji Jukai that are filled with ruined buildings and rubble.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Black Rock Shooter: The Game is its battle system. Battles are seen from a third-person, over-the shoulder perspective. Black Rock Shooter’s feet are pinned to the ground and the only movement she can do aside from shooting is dodging from side to side via the circle button. She can also fire regular shots from her cannon or do special moves by pressing the R trigger and another button. Different special moves can be unlocked by leveling up or completing challenges, but only four of those special attacks can be equipped at any given time. Players can utilize the joystick to aim Black Rock Shooter’s iconic cannon at the enemy. Any attacks or dodges fill up a meter that indicates the cannon’s energy. When the bar is full, the cannon “overheats” and you are unable to move or fire, making you very vulnerable to damage. The battle system for Black Rock Shooter was easily the most enjoyable aspect of the game for me. Different battles called for different moves to be equipped and I had to pay special attention to attack sequences so I would not get hit. There were several instances where I would restart a level a couple of times until I got the stage boss’ attack sequence down. Timing of defensive moves was important in such battles as Szzu’s and CKRY’s at the end of the third stage. The real-time play made the battles feel fast-paced and I was never in battle for too long of a time which made the game a perfect distraction from my other daily duties.
Unfortunately, the story for the game does not fair as well as its battle system. While Black Rock Shooter has garnered a lot of fans over the years, the various representations of Black Rock Shooter have not really been consistent with each other. This is also the case with Black Rock Shooter: The Game. You are presented with a new version of Black Rock Shooter in the form of a combat android created to help mankind battle off the aliens that have invaded and nearly wiped humans out. The characters seem to be thrown into the game and there is not much character development, save for Black Rock Shooter who starts to have some human characteristics such as smiling. Black Rock Shooter: The Game’s environment and setting could have been a bit more creative. Everything seemed generic. One plus side to the game is that NIS America kept the Japanese voice acting which I enjoyed immensely. Several veteran voice actors/actresses were involved in the project including Maaya Sakamoto and Miyuki Sawashiro. The translations were also fairly accurate and the dialogue seemed to flow rather well.
Gameplay for Black Rock Shooter: The Game clocks in between thirteen to fifteen hours, which is somewhat on the short side. There are still things to do after the game is finished such as visiting past stages to unlock gallery items and additional abilities for Black Rock Shooter. I really wished that they would display what level you are at when you select the stages, as I found myself often backtracking to figure out if I met the minimum level recommendations for each stage. Additional options to skip cutscenes would have been appreciated. There were some scenes I could skip; but there were even more where I could not.
Black Rock Shooter: The Game is a decent RPG game with a very solid battle system, but severely falls behind in the story development department. Those of you who want a game that can be played in short bursts and enjoy a little strategy, this game is for you. Any interested individuals with $20 dollars to spare can pick up their own copy of Black Rock Shooter: The Game for your PSP or Vita from the PlayStation Network Store.
What I liked:
-fast paced, interesting battle system
-the veteran Japanese voice cast
What I didn’t like:
-lack of intriguing story
-inability to skip all cut scenes
- I REALLY wished they had brought over the very pretty limited edition with the White Rock Shooter figma.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the distributor.