Hands-on: Frame Gride

From Software is taking its mech experience to the Dreamcast with Frame Gride. Here's a hands-on impression.

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From Software, the creator of the Armored Core, Kin's Field, and Echo Night series, has released its first Dreamcast title, Frame Gride (rhymes with "glide"). Frame Gride is a mech-combat game, similar to Armored Core, except that there are no objective-based missions. At its core (no pun intended) Frame Gride is most closely related to Sega's own mech-combat arcade game Virtual-On. Frame Gride distances itself from Sega's title by adding loads of customization options, the very same options that gave the Armored Core series its fanatical following.

From the outset, you are put through a series of questions (in Japanese, unfortunately), the answers of which will determine the giant robot you start with. You are also given two "skeletons" to work with at the beginning, but you won't be able to do anything with them just yet. After getting used to the controls in the training center (shoulder buttons strafe, A-jumps, B-sword slash, X-shield and Y-gunfire), you'll find that beyond their simple functions, proximity to your enemy also results in different attacks. Holding down both shoulder buttons and pressing the sword slash and gunfire buttons will offer more powerful long-range attacks. The analog pad changes views, much in the way the exterior camera does in Ace Combat 3. This lets you look left and right, which can be necessary since your enemy swarms around you. The D-pad is used for the actual mech movement, which works fine.

To put it in as few words as possible, Frame Gride is beautiful to look at in both graphic quality and original design. More medieval than Armored Core, the mech design resembles the manga classic, the Five Star Stories. The multitude of customization options combined with the tight gameplay make this game a winner. Internet play makes this game an even more compelling purchase, although an American release would be a more practical purchase since trying to play kids in Japan would be a costly endeavor. Latency problems would also be an issue, most likely. Needless to say, however, From Software certainly didn't skimp on its first Sega/Dreamcast title. The fact that it's of such high quality is incredible. Keep your eyes peeled for a full-blown review coming soon.

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