Triggerheart Exelica Review

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Publisher: Warashi Inc.
Developer: Warashi Inc.

Platform: Xbox 360
Reviewed on Xbox 360

The most powerful weapon humanity has created is the "Triggerheart." Triggerhearts are weapon systems that happen to look like young, anime-style girls. Never mind that they show a lot of leg... they can level city blocks with an array of cybernetic weaponry! Two of those Triggerhearts (Triggerheart Exelica and Triggerheart Crueltear) are all that stand between an invasion by the Ver'mith and humanity's extinction.

Kyle Ackerman

At first glance, Triggerheart Exelica seems like the kind of old-school, vertical-scrolling shooter you found everywhere in coin-op arcades. I used to scrutinize these kinds of games carefully before dropping that one quarter I'd found into the slot and spending my one credit on a brief sortie in which tens of thousands of shots would be fired at myriad enemies following mysterious, predetermined patterns.

In truth, Triggerheart Exelica is that kind of game, even if it only recently reached Japanese arcades. The Xbox Live Arcade version of Triggerheart Exelica simulates that arcade experience, with only a small section in the middle of the screen actually hosting important play, tons of enemies and even more shots to be dodged. You can pick from one of two types of Triggerhearts (traditionalists can think "ship" instead of "devastatingly powerful anime-style cybernetic girl") that have different patterns of shots. Both have smart bombs that do a lot of damage to everything on the screen and lift you high above the field of play to dodge all fire.

But if you think of Triggerheart Exelica as that kind of game, you'll die. A lot. There's just too much firepower, and even fully powered up, your shots don't do enough damage. Triggerheart Exelica is entirely about using the "anchor," and I wish the game had better helped me understand that from the very beginning. Your Triggerheart can latch onto enemies on the screen, spin them around to destroy other enemies and block incoming fire, and even hurl that object to destroy waves of other foes. The bigger the thing you grab, the longer it takes and the more damage it can do. Once you understand the anchor function, and learn how to properly grab, spin and throw objects, Triggerheart Exelica becomes an entirely different type of vertical scrolling shooter.

You can't avoid shooting. There are times when waves of weaker enemies need to be eliminated by conventional fire. But there are also times when the screen is literally packed full of enemies and fire. If you don't use the anchor to send some enemies flying into others there will be nowhere to fly. The key to playing Triggerheart Exelica is understanding the art of anchoring, something that's fun to explore and master. Anchoring is even the key to the game's final boss battle.

The game's major flaw is its brevity. There aren't a lot of levels in Triggerheart Exelica. Five stages and a few bosses are all you get. Also, because the two Triggerhearts you can choose to play as both rely so heavily on anchoring, the difference between their shot patters (one spreads, the other focuses more firepower in a straight line) isn't as important as it might seem. The difficulty of bosses depends on your score, so the better you are doing, the harder the boss will become, making bosses more interesting on later plays. But they are still extremely challenging for casual players the very first time around. The real play value in Triggerheart Exelica is in constantly replaying the available levels to hone your score and perfect your performance. Which means the game's real audience is a very self-selecting group of gamers.

If you dearly love playing a few levels over and over to rise on the online leaderboards or to complete the game without losing a single life, Triggerheart Exelica offers the kind of challenge you are looking for. More casual players will be frustrated by the difficulty and dearth of new and exciting levels to experience. Fundamentally, the game is an interesting vertical scrolling shooter, but offers too little play for the price compared with other Xbox Live Arcade Offerings.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on March 6, 2008 9:05 AM.

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