Gaming

Front Mission 1st: Remake (2022) Review (Switch eShop)

Shot on Nintendo Switch (pinned)

As the saying goes, war never changes, but this is only partly true of war. front mission A series in which players control a group of Wanzer pilots in an attempt to outwit the opposing side. The first game in the series has gone through many remakes and releases, and the last one, Front Mission 1st: Remake, was released on the Nintendo Switch. It brings all the drama and fantasy storytelling that has become the hallmark of the series, as well as a modern look and sound to current audiences.

The plot of Front Mission 1st: Remake follows a conflict between two coalitions of nations. The OCU, representing the countries of South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Australia, and the US Navy, representing the continents of North and South America, are engaged in an ongoing Cold War. Everyone wants to take control of Huffman Island and have sent their Wanzer forces to tip the balance of power on the island in their favor.

The original release of Front Mission for the SNES back in 1995 allowed players to play as OCU Captain Royd as he tries to track down the man who killed his fiancée during a mission known as the “Larkus Incident”. In 2003 the game was re-released as Front mission 1st, offering players the opportunity to play through the campaign from a USN perspective. Both of these campaigns, with their intertwined but separate stories and intriguing plot twists, are available here.

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Shot on Nintendo Switch (pinned)

Front Mission 1st: Remake succeeds when characters and drama take center stage. It takes time to develop a plot, especially in an OCU campaign, but when it does, it’s hard to tear yourself away from the story. There are all the betrayals and friendships you would expect from a war story set in a world different from ours, but at times eerily similar. Fans of these stories will find plenty of poignant moments to sink their teeth into, although the fact that the plot is presented with a collection of talking heads and text boxes makes the game look more dated than the updated visuals would suggest.

Between dialogue scenes are missions that must be completed in order for players to progress through the story. Wanzers – the highly customizable mechs that are at the heart of the conflict in the Front Mission series – can move around the map and must contend with different terrain while attempting to get into position to attack incoming enemies. They can use a variety of weapons, either wielded or carried on their shoulders, to damage enemies and defend themselves. Equipping your squad with the right mix of melee and ranged attacks, as well as the right combination of items and special abilities, is the key to making sure your squad survives.

As interesting as the plot of Front Mission 1st: Remake is, much of that joy is sucked out of the actual combat parts of the game. Particularly in the early levels, both players and their enemies are frighteningly inaccurate with their weapons, resulting not in epic battles but in clumsy slaps against each other. Even when you manage to position yourself brilliantly, you will find that your units cannot deliver the killing blow in conflicts that drag on and on.

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Shot on Nintendo Switch (handheld/without dock)

This problem is exacerbated by the fact that characters have separate health bars for the body, right and left arms, and legs. Depleting body health will destroy a wanzer, removing either the right or left hand will disable the weapon held in that hand, and destroying the legs will slow them down. This can be an interesting concept, except that most weapons target a random body part, so there are times when an opponent will limp with a single hit point in their body while the player’s pilot inexplicably targets their undamaged legs. Over-reliance on randomness is more annoying than anything else and slows down what should be simple conflict.

While story missions take up most of the gameplay, players can also dip into the Arena to earn extra cash by betting on the outcome of their fights. There is an opportunity to earn money to buy much-needed equipment and weapons, but this aspect is no more fun and exciting than the main campaign. It removes the movement aspect of combat, relying almost entirely on you being better equipped than your opponent to win and hoping random dice rolls won’t cause you to fall.

This is especially annoying because the graphical upgrade here is significant. The cars look impressive and small details like working windshield wipers bring them to life despite their stylized look. The attention to detail is especially noticeable when playing in pinned mode, where many details stand out beautifully on the screen. Wanzers move smoothly and seem like they should be powerful fighting machines, but they miss so often that we can’t help but wonder if they’re still in testing phase. All the visual improvements in the world couldn’t save what had become a tedious job.

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Shot on Nintendo Switch (pinned)

You can play the game without graphical updates, but you will also miss out on many of the quality of life improvements that the newest version offers. The original soundtrack, which has already pushed the SNES sound card to its limits, has been updated for modern consoles, and the ability to rotate the camera around the battlefield is the game’s most welcome improvement. The only thing missing is an update to the character portraits to make them more dynamic and vibrant.

Front Mission 1st: Remake is best perceived as a great war story with rare combat missions. Heavily randomized mechanics are not enhanced by impressively improved graphics and audio. If you’re desperate to play the mech game, we suggest lowering the difficulty so you can play through two campaigns without feeling stifled by gameplay.

Conclusion

If you’re not a big fan of the original or the TRPG genre in general, you can probably safely skip this game or just lower the combat difficulty to enjoy the story. Despite the strengths of the setting and characters, the gameplay becomes more frustrating than engaging and will not hold the attention of most players after the first few hours. It’s a shame, because there’s beauty in being able to tell the same story from two opposing points of view, but it’s hidden behind poorly implemented mechanics. Unfortunately, modern visuals and sound cannot save the gameplay, which feels too random to be enjoyable.




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