As some of you may have guessed from what I’ve said during podcasts and my Zone of the Enders 2 review, I love mecha and robots. Even as a child, I got straight up giddy over seeing a new premiere for something in the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise and I’ve been a dedicated follower of the Super Robot Wars series for years. Naturally, seeing a title like Strike Suit Zero on Kickstarter with its notable collaborations with mecha designer Junji Okubo of Steel Battalion and Infinite Space fameand Japanese pop singer KOKIA, my interest was piqued.
Unlike other indie titles that have high aspirations and ultimately fall short, Strike Suit Zero’s visuals reaches for the stars and is a sight to behold. Space is beautifully imagined here, with stars, planets, and nebulas that provide beautiful backdrops to the constant stream of interstellar dogfights and explosions. The actual ship and mecha designs, however, are a bit hit-or-miss. While the Strike Suit itself is a beautifully designed, no frills mecha, it’s accompanied by some planes that look comparatively bland and out of place. Every mission where I had to choose something other than the Strike Suit felt like a punishment. Regardless, hardcore followers of mecha anime will notice countless homages, ranging from the zig-zagging missiles that call to mind the Macross series and ships’ launch strips that are prominent in the Gundam series.
Though the Strike Suit may be what pulls in most gamers from trailers and the Kickstarter campaign, most of the game takes place in outside of the mecha and in various spacecrafts instead. That may seem like a disappointment, especially in the first three missions where players will have no access to the mecha, but the Apex and other planes that give players a chance to engage in dogfights were definitely an unexpected joy. Unlike other contemporary air combat titles like the Ace Combat series, which practically feeds victories to players with evasive maneuvers and aerobatic movements available at the touch of a button, Strike Suit Zero makes players work for it.
After causing enough destruction, players will fill up their flux meter and can transform into the powerful Strike Suit, which can decimate enemies in mere seconds with a couple of shots and fire off homing missiles at either large crowds or concentrate them on one single target, almost guaranteeing their destruction. It certainly justifies the work that players will have to put into the levels in order to build up the flux to transform. Interestingly, the controls changes completely in order to match the humanoid form of the mecha, mirroring the likely difficulties that an actual pilot would have. It takes some adaptation on players’ part to transition to both forms and play them well, but that’s what makes it all the more rewarding.
Enjoyable as the game’s dogfights and battles may be, they are ultimately marred by the game’s sometimes ridiculous mission durations and objectives. On average, missions took anywhere from half an hour to an hour to complete, ensuring that I was exhausted by the end and made the next mission a questionable decision. On top of that, an abundance of escort missions put players on constant babysitting duty, sometimes for almost 10 – 20 minutes of monotonous shooting. When the objectives weren’t monotonous and boring, they asked the player to do absurdly difficult tasks, such as taking out a set of plasma guns while flak turrets are firing at them. The easy answer would be to take out the flak turrets first, but that usually meant ally ships, which players have to protect, would get either dangerously low or outright destroyed. Aside from design issues, the title has some technical problems at the moment that could surely be patched out, including a forgetful controller setup that conveniently defaults back to its original settings and occasional freezing and crashes that erased all mission progress.
Strike Suit Zero has incredible potential. The excitement the dogfights deliver and skill it requires is unparalleled on the market today and is sure to deliver the best space combat experience players can find. However, its shortcomings are simply too large to be ignored and hold the game back from being the dream space combat game that every child has dreamed of since the 70s. The $19.99 price tag may be a bit steep considering these problems, but any fan of classic mecha anime should definitely jump on this in the hopes of a Strike Suit One.
- Beautiful designs that mecha fans will appreciate
- Unparalleled space combat
- Hard to pick up, but extremely rewarding
- Ridiculously difficult and tedious at times
- Occasional crashing that erases all mission progress
Available on: PC; Publisher: Born Ready Games; Developer: Born Ready Games; Players: 1; Released: January 23, 2012; ESRB: NA; MSRP: $19.99; Official Site
Note: A promotional code was provided to Denkiphile for review purposes by the publisher.