Platform: PlayStation 2
Review Date: 11/17/03
Web Site: www.taito.co.jp
Tokyo is being ravaged by a relentless swarm of alien insects, and it's up to Ryoko (Mitsuho Ohtani) and her band of four adorable female combat cyborgs to, uh, kill the alien invaders. That's all I could make of it, at least. This game is a super cheezy video shooter a la "Firefox" or "Sewer Shark" (1992), where computer animated targets appear on top of live action video, and you have to shoot them with your cursor. Of course, moving your gunsight with the DualShock controller is very, very difficult, and the unforgiving precision shooting required by the game is nearly impossible to achieve. It's rather baffling why this isn't a light gun game, except that there are third person action sequences mixed in with the first person shooting stages. Or so I'm led to believe - I haven't actually gotten to any of those yet.
As a shooter, it's difficult, tedious, and boring, and the only real payoff is watching the cut scenes, where our cute little warriors get to drive around in their bubblegum pink jeep and show off their shooting skills. There's even some tense emotional friction thrown in, and a bit more of a storyline than I'd care to follow (especially since it's all in Japanese). It's all very low budget and tongue in cheek, and is yet another example of the Japanese taking a ludicrous premise and somehow making it credible by treating it with dead seriousness. The Japanese are the undisputed masters of this approach, and the no-nonsense performances of the actresses make it work. Unfortunately, as enjoyable as it is to watch the girls do their thing, there's no way to skip past the cut scenes, which can get extremely annoying when you have to replay a certain level over and over. There's also no way to quit the game other than dying, which is very aggravating when you need to go back and clear a previous level.
As an added incentive, bonus videos are unlocked for meeting certain scoring criteria. These are candid clips of the actresses doing what they do every day - shopping, laughing, cooking, goofing around, bowling, and of course, eating. (I don't know why the Japanese are so obsessed with watching people eat) However, even though I've unlocked several of these movies, the controls to actually play them are disabled, which is very frustrating indeed. Just what do you have to do? Can you only view them after you've beaten the game? It's unclear, and having them there in the game stats screen mocking me makes me want to cry. Sadly, unless I find an infinite health/ammo cheat, I'm never going to finish "Combat Queen" to see how the drama plays out.