Get your cel-shaded third-person shooter on!
Capcom’s spin-off title of the Lost Planet series for the Nintendo 3DS was in playable form at this year’s Tokyo Game Show. The title, which is a “beginner’s shooter,” was available to play in three-player co-op on the show floor. Being at the booth all by my lonesome, I teamed up with a stranger and one of the Capcom staff on hand to go through the experience.
The first thing I noticed while playing the demo was the remarkable visuals. The cel-shaded anime aesthetic fit the game perfectly and ran silky smooth on the 3DS. Even compared to the home console version, which ran in the booth nearby, it was easy to tell that this game looked great on the 3DS screen. The 3D effect also enhanced the visuals by providing a great sense of depth. After getting the lobby set up, we got to choose our characters and weapon loadouts. There are a total of five different characters to choose from, each with a unique look and different initial loadouts. After getting everything set up, we were able to delve into the demo. On the show floor there were two different demo stages: one easy, and one difficult. Thankfully, I had enough time to try both during my play session.
The controls in EX Troopers fit what the game's third-person shooter design. Players control their characters with the Circle pad and can shoot their primary weapon with the Y button. Primary weapons typically consisted of machine guns or weapons with pretty consistent fire power. The X button serves as your sub-weapon (you can choose between the likes of shotguns or explosive launchers). A is used for melee combat (a roundhouse kick, for the character I was using). B combined with the Circle pad lets players do a quick step. If you hold B and forward, you can boost forward with a rocket attached to your character's back. The D-pad moves the camera, L can center the camera, and R is used to lock on to enemies.
I went in to the demo with some kind of assault rifle and a grenade launcher. I first went through the easy stage with my group. As I mentioned above, I got to play demo with two other players in local play. The first demo stage was set in a cave and seemed to focus on throwing a number of insect-like creatures at us, which were relatively easy to bring down. With three players in the mix, things can get pretty crazy, but luckily friendly fire damage was off so I didn’t have worry about blowing away my partners or getting zapped myself.
The game does a good job of letting you know where to go next. After you clear out an area, a red arrow points the way to where you go next. There was one time where that led us to a cliff face where the A button appeared on the screen. After pressing A, my character was able to scale up the side with rope to proceed. After fighting swarms of bees and destroying pods they spawned from, the first demo ended, leaving me impressed by the ease of controls and the whole smooth experience.
The second demo was more challenging and a lot more varied in terms of enemies. The setting is a little different, too, as it had us moving around corridors and making our way outside. Humanoid characters were trying to blast us into oblivion in tandem with flying bees attacking and their hatching pods sprouting up all over the place. At the end of the stage, there were a couple different large, four-legged and extremely powerful creatures we all had to work together to bring down.
This was a good chance to use a special charge attack, activated by a blue button on the touch screen. After charging it, a blue aura would appear around the player. If the other two players rushed to the aura, they could unleash a mega attack that would deal considerable damage to the enemy. Also, there were times when you could use the rope on the creature with the A button to pull the big guy down the to ground. Each of these enemies had a weak point on their tails, which they were constantly guarding or trying to keep you from. If your character ran completely out of health, the other players could come and revive you by pressing the A button multiple times by your downed body. If you couldn’t be revived, you could just simply use one of three continues and press on. In the end, the second demo proved more difficult than the first, as my teammates and I ran out of continues and were all killed before we could revive each other.
I left the demo for EX Troopers impressed by the gorgeous visuals and great controls, but disappointed that 3DS owners in the West won’t have a chance to play this game. It’s a solid experience and I can’t wait to get when it releases this November in Japan.