TGS 2005: Front Mission 2089 Hands-On

We played with giant robots on tiny cell phones at the Tokyo Game Show 2005.


TOKYO--The main lesson we've learned from the mobile games at the Tokyo Game Show this year is that mechs are cool. Though there seems to be quite a bit in the way of giant robots from the usual suspects, one of the games that stuck out the most is Front Mission 2089, Square Enix's foray into the mobile mech genre. Unlike most mech games (but like most of the entrants in the Front Mission franchise), 2089 is a strategy-based mech game. So, while you will customize your characters and mech in a manner similar to other mech games, the combat is more tactical than your usual third-person shooter.

There seems to be an involved storyline attached to Front Mission 2089, which is revealed through still cutscenes with moving character portraits. After picking which mech to use, you enter an enclosed arena with enemy mechs on it. The level we played on was simply a square grid, with no alternate terrain of any kind, although we can imagine that will change as the levels progress. On every turn, you have the ability to move and/or attack other mechs, but the goal is to get within range of them one at a time. Once you've selected which mech to attack, you can choose from a list of moves. The two open at the start were "Grave" and "Zenith Punch," which produced very different animations but did approximately the same amount of damage. When it's your turn, you can check on the status of any pilot or mech. In the earlier levels, this is a wasted ability, but as you're dealing with more and more opponents and types of attacks, it's something that comes in very handy. Since the game is turn-based, you will have to wait for your opponent to move, although combat always goes fairly quickly. Also, when it's the enemy's turn to attack, you've got the opportunity to select which weapon you want to counter with or to decide whether to simply defend yourself.

The graphics are fairly good. They're certainly much more detailed during the fighting sequences than they are during the isometric views of the playing field between the turns. The controls are also surprisingly intuitive and fluid for this type of game, on this type of system. Altogether, we're excited to see more of the adaptation of this game in the mobile format, but it's not currently scheduled for a release in North America. We hope that will change in the near future, and we'll get more information on this game as it becomes available.

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