What most Game Boy games lack is
longevity. Most are pretty entertaining for a couple of hours. After that, most games fall
into two categories: Games youve beaten and games you will never, ever want to beat.
Brevity is sometimes the major culprit, but just as often a game suffers because of
mundane, clumsy, or just plain incomprehensible gameplay. The fact of the matter is that
most GBC titles become reduced to repetitive motion endurance tests under hardcore gaming
To some extent, thats understandable. After all, we can only do so
much with the GBC, and repetition in some ways allows a game to be longer. And if we
extrapolate just what we think of as repetition, it could be said that a vast number of
games are just repeated motifs games like Quake, NFL 2K1, the Sims and Mario Kart
come to mind. Games that usually dont suffer from highly repetitive gameplay (and
dont get me wrong, some repetitive games are a whole lot of fun) often rely on a
narrative to pull them along Im thinking of titles like Oddworld and Grim
happy medium that is not explored often enough on the GBC is the Role Playing Game. RPGs
are perfectly suited to the platform for a number of reasons: They dont have to rely
on graphics; they maximize the effect of repetitive elements such as fighting and
exploring; they tell a story to distract from the repetition and provide a constant
forward momentum. When done properly, such as in the Pokemon games, these titles become
phenomenons. And although we love our CG-sprinkled next-gen RPGs, the fact of the matter
is that a good story in a good RPG can carry incredibly primitive graphics.
Such is the case with Metal Walker. Capcoms latest for GBC is a pretty standard
RPG that borrows some successful conventions from the Pokemon titles, mixes in a really
innovative combat system, and ties it all together with a storyline that, while still not
great literature, succeeds at not annoying the gamer to death (or boredom). Add to that
the inherent goodness of a long-lasting game, easy to start and stop, on a portable
platform, and youve got a really fun title.
Metal Walker you assume the role of Tetto, a boy looking for his father. In the
not-too-far future, you work with your father on Rusted Land to find Core Units, a
powerful metal/energy that allows you to use and build cool robot servants. While mining
for Core Units, you and your father are attacked by evil Metal Busters looking for Core
Units themselves. You become separated, and, accompanied by your robot pal, Meta Ball, you
begin the search for your dad, counselled that hell appear near the Core Units. Of
course, as things go along you find out about a history of sketchy research, ghosts in
machines, the ultimate robot, Metal Walker, and meet various baddies in need of a good
Like I said, its not an original story, but it does follow the conventions of the
RPG narrative pretty closely. And in line with the RPG tradition, you spend most of your
time randomly encountering monsters, moving from location to location, using the
facilities at various refuel/restock shops, and increase your experience. It feels very
much like almost any other RPG in those regards.
makes this game fun is Meta Ball. He follows you around like a little Pikachu, but kicks
much more butt. As you progress you encounter enemies, and Meta Ball fights for you. The
fighting system is pretty interesting a lot like marbles. Enemies and Meta Ball
show up in an arena, and most arenas have an exit. Items you have are randomly thrown into
the arena when it is your turn to move. On your turn, an arrow shows up over Meta Ball.
You rotate the arrow to point the direction you want to move, then press A. That brings up
a power bar that fills and empties, as in a golf game or on your Virtua Tennis serve, and
you try to press A again when its full. Meta Ball then shoots off in the direction
youve aimed, bouncing off the walls, objects, and enemies as he goes. You damage
enemies by running into them.
These battles vary widely in difficulty according to the strength of the enemy. It is
crucial to become skillful at shooting Meta Ball around the arena so as to make optimum
use of the power-up items and hit as many enemies as possible, while leaving yourself in
the best possible position. Its a bit like pool, too, in that respect. Overall,
quite a bit of strategy can be used to ensure victory.
Add to the innovative combat an ever-evolving Meta Ball and youve got some good
gameplay. As you collect Core Units, you can evolve Meta Ball into quite a few different
robots everything from a tank to a sexy female mecha are possible. These different
incarnations give the robot different stats and abilities, so youll find yourself
actually using this function fairly often.
In addition to the evolution of Meta Ball (suspiciously Pokemon-esque), the game is
enhanced by the variety of items you can earn. To get items you must aquire the data for
the item shop to build them. You do that by purchasing analyzers, which are then thrown
into the battle arena. You must bounce an opposing robot into the analyzer during battle,
and you will acquire the "scan data" to make their particular item. This is
another element that seems derivative of Pokemon gameplay, but nonetheless increases the
play value of Metal Walker.
Overall, Metal Walker is a must-play title for GBC RPG fans. The combat system alone is
worth the cash without a doubt the most original and fun system out there. Add to
it the various "collection" and "evolution" elements, and youve
got a really solid game. Metal Walker offers meaty gameplay and long-lasting entertainment