TGS 2005: Code Age Brawls Hands-On

We got a chance to play the Japanese version of Code Age Brawls, the mobile game in Square Enix's newest "polymorphic" franchise.

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TGS 2005: At E3 2005, Square Enix announced its newest vision, "polymorphic" content--multiple game releases from a single franchise on different platforms at the same time. Aside from the current Final Fantasy VII polymorphic exploration, Square announced several new titles that would be getting the same treatment. One was "Code Age," a futuristic RPG that would be released on mobile phones under the name Code Age Brawls. We finally got a chance to play this highly anticipated title at the Tokyo Game Show. The game does not, as of yet, have an American release date, but it should make its way to the US at about the same time as the other Code Age games.

The crux of Brawls' gameplay centers on colored badges, which you collect and use to fight other characters in rock, paper, scissors-esque gameplay. The more you fight and win, the more and better badges you get to use. In each fight, you have five chances to play a badge. You're not required to, though, and strategically, there's something to be said for not placing badges down from time to time. After both players have made their selections, the fight begins, and the badges are pitted against each other. In the version we played, yellow was the most powerful badge, then red, blue, purple, and finally, grey. The two badges--one from each character--are revealed, and then the appropriate damage is dealt. If both players play the same color, then they both get the opportunity to attack one another, which is done automatically, and does not seem, as of yet, to be customizable. Damage is accrued based on the level difference between the characters. If uneven badges are played, the winner is the only one who gets the opportunity to attack. If no badges are played by either character, nothing happens, and it's on to the next turn. After the five turns are taken, the game returns to the selection screen and badges are either won or lost from your inventory, based on how the last game went. Because you can lose your badges, it's often wise to use lower badges and no badges strategically, instead of simply using all of your best badges all the time.

There is a fair amount of story revealed in the gameplay between the fight sequences, although it's not entirely clear yet what the story and mythos are. The characters are clearly futuristic, but all of those we encountered were humanoid. We also noticed that in the demo version, each of the fights was entered automatically from a central location, in what seemed to be a dojo of some sort; but there was no actual exploration--merely fighting. It's clear that the game will be rich in terms of plot and strategy, but it's not yet certain how much of the gameplay will go beyond that, or if there will be open environments to wander around. All of that will have to be revealed as we explore more of Code Age Brawls in the future. From our brief experience with it so far, we like how Code Age Brawls is coming along, and we look forward to seeing more of it, and other polymorphic content, in the future.

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