Hardcore Mecha was just one of those games that I took notice of initially because of it’s very on-the nose title. Initially I wasn’t that attracted to it because I’m not a fan of SD-style robots. But the trailer it showed told me that it wasn’t trying to make any easy outs. The creators of this game understand the appeal of the aesthetic and the roots of the genre. The buy in wasn’t high at all on Steam, so I decided to buy it and try it on a whim. It’s a real bargain for what it gave.
Production 4.2 / 5
The style of making oversized heads really doesn’t appeal to me when it comes to mecha. It’s honestly difficult to tell what the point would be if the robot doesn’t have an expressive face. However for this game they went out of the way to detail the entire body enough to make many parts discernable. There weren’t any obvious shortcuts that made like black areas for joints, so they animated in a heavier and more deliberate way.
Hardcore Mecha doesn’t really reinvent how Japanese games tell their stories, you have the visual-novel format for longer conversations, then they have cutscenes that blend perfectly with gameplay, sprites that are well-defined and don’t blur up when the camera closes up. And even voice-overs for about half the game. Yep, the game just kept pulling surprises for me and kept me happy. It does more than what your usual Japanese game does for story telling and cutscenes.
Mechanics 4 / 5
Advised to be played on controller, it needs at least 8 buttons for several functions aside from movement. And yes, it takes a bit of a while to get used to, in fact there’s some level of frustration that goes with the confusion the first hour or so. But it starts making sense after, and the response and freedom it grants is pretty rewarding once you know what you’re doing.
There’s also an upgrade system that’s locked by your pilot level and you’ll have to buy with earned credits. However if you’re the type that’s trying to collect secrets or gain high ratings per stage you’ll probably have no real problem farming for everything.
Content 4.5 / 5
Hardcore Mecha sports a pretty impressive campaign mode, it’s literally what got me coming back for more. While the plot isn’t really anything new, it’s still well-executed. You have an impending war, and a bunch of colorful characters to get to know. Between that is every imaginable mecha trope I can think of, fighting countless grunts to skilled warriors, to impossibly large robots. Fighting on the ground, underwater, even with the low-gravity situation of space. Fighting without your mech, sneaking into a base, chasing or escaping from enemies, taking down ships, combiners, transformers, funnels, and even powers that escape the grasp of science. It’s really hard to think of anything else to ask in a robot action game.
Though while it does a good job of showing you the several mecha that are available to play, you only actually play one mecha unless you’re doing multiplayer, which I think is a missed opportunity to teach about how to play several mechs.
Features 3 / 5
The game features a multiplayer mode, which sounds pretty great but I wasn’t really able to enjoy because I couldn’t find a match and if I did, I can’t get a good connection going with players in that game.
Oh, did I mention Kageyama, the guy who sings every epic Super Robot Wars (SRW) theme as well as your iconic Dragon Ball ‘Cha-La Head-Cha-La’ song, also has a song for this game? Yep, it really got me pumped to keep playing. A nice bonus were the fairly subtle jabs on several mecha anime tropes, specially Gundam, throughout the game.
While many are likely to have the same complaints as I did for multiplayer, I honestly believe this game is worth for the abundant passion it shows for the genre through its campaign. It’s well-executed albeit a bit hammy at times. Binging this game you’ll probably finish the campaign in a day but if you’re as big a fan of mecha as I am, that’d be a very fun day.
Hardcore Mecha combines all of its parts and packs a punch of 3.93 / 5
Available on PC.