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Frame Gride
Platform:  Dreamcast
# of Players:  1 or 2
Developer:  From Software
Publisher:  From Software
Features:  Puru Puru Pack, VMS
Ratings:  Early Childhood
Memory Req.:  
If you are a fan of Japanamation you know that there are three things that the genre is obsessed with, young looking girls, little monsters, and big-ass robots. That is, big-ass robots with jets and swords and huge rocket launching things. All of these things have been capitalized on in the video game world 10 times over and so you would think that there is really nothing new under the sun. In walks Frame Gride, a game that set a new precedence for robot co

From Software, the people who brought you the three Armored Core games on the Playstation, comes a new kind of fighting game. Frame Gride combines the strategic movement and attacking of Armored Core with the one on one fighting excitement of Virtual On.

The story line revolves around 9 different tribes that were split up into 9 different lands. Each land has its own royal family and a chosen warrior selected to protect the land. Each representative is governed by one of 4 elements, fire, water, wind, and stone. These elements have a circular nature that can be used to your advantage. For example, wind beats fire, fire beats water etc. If you know the element that your enemy favors, you can equip you suit to have an advantage.

This brings us to the suits themselves. At the beginning of each game you will be asked a series of questions about your person and your personality. Answer wisely because the answers you give will shape your destiny. And your destiny molds the type of suit and weapons in which you will be outfitted. If you are the type of person that would ride into battle on a large strong horse then you will be fitted with massive legs. However if you would rather ride a quick white steed you will find your lower region equipped for maneuverability. It is a nice process that reminds me of one of those personality tests they give you in high school to find out what kind of career you would have only instead of a dumb chart they give you a cool metal suit and a sword. You can then change the color of your suit and you are

The fighting engine is where this game really shines. It is always clear and easy to control even when you are backed up into a corner. For all of the different commands that the game demands, it uses the controller very intuitively unlike some other fighter games that. Even I could get a handle on the complex control and I have a terrible time figuring out what does what. The four top buttons shoot, block, jump, and attack and the shoulder buttons strafe. There are also button combinations for more advanced devastating attacks, but other than that there is not much else to learn. The real fun in the game comes from moving and fighting strategically.

Battle ain't a beautiful thing, but its a work of art in this game!

Whereas the control may seem to be a little simplified, the game moves so fast and the enemies are so good that a serious knowledge of the different fighting techniques is required. You have to know when to go in for the slice and when to back up and use your guns. You have to plant mines and lead the enemies into them as well as fighting your enemy and his legions all at the same time. You must also learn how to use each environment to your advantage. The best element of the game is the AI of the enemies. Each opponent has drastically different fighting styles that require different offensive strategies. Unlike most fighting games that are all about learning a few special moves and just doing them over and over again, this game requires the player to learn fighting technique and then modify it to suit every opponent. Some bastards will hit hard and run away, while others will swarm around you taking pop shots. Thankfully after each battle, win or lose, you are able to go to the garage and modify your suit in order to attempt to give yourself an advantage. That is, if you have any spare parts.

Frame Gride is a welcome addition into the small but diverse Dreamcast family. It provides a kind of 3-D action that is absent from everything else on the system while keeping true to the RPG elements that make its predecessors (Armored Core, Xenogears) so much fun. However, don't think of this as one of those sit back and relax term-based kind of strategy games. Let your guard down for a second and you will be swamped with a barrage of destructive power from a relentless enemy. After playing this game for a while you will really begin to know the meaning of the phrase, "I gotta get my ass outta here!"

Chris Shade

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