While I've long supposed the "Planet IF
" aggregator to concentrate on "interactive fiction" games, specifically typing in commands to move around the game's described-in-text world, handle objects, and solve puzzles, in the past few months I've noticed enough references to start really catching my attention to "choose your own adventure"-type games, where you're presented with a list of choices every so often, trading fine control for the potential of greater scope. If my early years spent playing adventure games amounted in some part to never quite figuring out the puzzles, the Choose Your Own Adventure books in my school library just seemed to intimidate me; I guess I took the whole "'you' could die
at any turn" possibility too seriously. Now, though, I was getting a little more curious about the current computerized variety; having recently played a few "visual novels
," more illustrated variants of this kind of game, may have played a role there. Remembering that one phrase being used to describe them was "choice-based games," I tried searching for that phrase. The results at the top of the page weren't general discussion, though, but links to a single game company
. I followed one of them all the same, though, and it just so happened their latest game
, visible on the front page, caught my attention in a specific way.
Even if the title "Mecha Ace" did make me think in part that the company must have run through a good many other genres
already, the game did exist; I went ahead and bought it for my iPad. Starting it up, I was intrigued to see a good part of its first choices seemed to be shaping your own character, picking strengths and weaknesses (although you don't get to name yourself until later on, most of the offered choices instantly recognizable for someone familiar with the specific genre); the rest of the game seemed as much "playing to those strengths" as "guessing at the obscure best choice early on." That on my very first try I got to a conclusion that didn't involve personal death or complete failure was at once encouraging and somehow suggestive the game had one major storyline built in instead of several diverging off in different directions; however, the accomplishments that showed up in Game Center did make me think there'd be chances to replay it and try out different strategies. (I'd played things "cautiously but honourably" to start with.)
Beyond the mechanics of the game, I was interested in its own take on the genre. The world described in the game's text did seem definitely inspired by Gundam, although "interstellar" in scope instead of Gundam's "we won't casually invoke interstellar travel and have you suspend that
bit of disbelief straight off." There did seem a few nods to Battletech, too, and in general I did have the impression the game was trying to avoid the familiar "youthful, inexperienced pilots" of mecha anime without making too big a deal of how it was avoiding it. In any case, it didn't seem to be proclaiming "mental control
" to be an indistinct yet essential add-on to the control sticks. While there may be a bit of "so how can the next game top this?"
to my thoughts, I suppose I can always take another look at the catalogue.