Gotcha Force Hands-On Impressions

We go hands-on with Capcom's upcoming GameCube party game.


Capcom had a short demo of its upcoming GameCube action game Gotcha Force on display at the Nintendo Gamers' Summit. The game features a multitude of unique robots that battle it out with other, presumably evil, robots in arenas based on mundane, domestic, real-world locales. Though you control only one of these robots at a time, your squad members will fight on their own, unless the robot you're currently controlling is destroyed, at which point you switch control to a different robot.

The robots themselves differ drastically in appearance and abilities. The squad we took control of included three different robots. The first was a versatile red humanoid robot with a charged dash attack, a ranged blaster attack, and jets that would allow for incredibly extended jumps. The second member of our squad was a winged robot that could launch ranged attacks from above, while the third robot was a little green tank that had limited mobility but had the ability to launch a few different types of high-powered salvos.

Though the robots' abilities differ drastically, their basic controls are fundamentally the same. You automatically lock on to the nearest enemy, though the shoulder buttons can be used to toggle between different enemies. The A button lets you jump, the B button lets you perform your basic attack (which will change dynamically from a ranged attack to a melee-style attack depending on your distance from your enemy), and the X button lets you unleash a special, more-powerful attack. Though there were never more than four or five characters in the arena at once, the pacing in Gotcha Force was extremely fast. The robots move quickly, and when there are a bunch of them together, they launch attacks in rapid succession. Also, whenever a robot uses a special attack, the camera makes several dizzying cuts around the attack.

The visual style of Gotcha Force is unusual; it draws some inspiration both from Toho's classic giant monster movies as well as from the giant robots that populate Japanese anime cartoons, though they generally have a playful, cartoonlike look to them. The game seems to value speed over highly detailed scenery or special effects; the arenas don't seem to be packed with a huge number of polygons, though the robots themselves appeared to be nicely detailed so that each has a bit of its own personality.

The game's combat, though extremely fast-paced, seems pretty simple, though perhaps not as satisfying as we would have liked. The fact that the game has only a single attack button and that the game automatically acquires targets for you makes the gameplay seem a bit too automatic at times; in some cases, all we needed to do was hammer the attack button while the game automatically determined whether our attacks would be ranged or melee. The game isn't scheduled for a US release until early 2004, so hopefully Capcom will improve on these issues before then.

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