Game Reviews

Mecha Showdown

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| Mecha Showdown
Mecha Showdown
| Mecha Showdown

Kaiju are all the rage, and that's no bad thing. Massive monsters destroying cities is always entertaining, and throwing equally massive machines at them can only make things more awesome.

At least, that's what common logic suggests, but it somehow doesn't explain why Pacific Rim was such a lame duck.

Or, for that matter, Mecha Showdown, which borrows from a similar concept and mutates it into a turn-based combat game where fighting is depressingly absent.

Comrade combat

It's hard to tell whether the developer is being kitsch and whimsical in Mecha Showdown's story, or whether it's simply trite.

It all kicks off in Russia, and the game actually takes a moment to explain to you that's where Moscow is located, that it's the country's capital, and that everyone who lives there calls each other 'comrade'.

Either way, you'll quickly move on from the reams of skippable text and into the action. You're in command of one of many different mech warriors, which are sponsored by various different countries from around the world.

These megalithic machines are being sent up against invading aliens, which have appeared throughout the planet’s major cities.

These monsters, both alien and manmade, battle it out one on one, with a tragic lack of collateral damage going on during the fights.

And that's a shame. Not only because such rampant destruction is guiltily entertaining, but because the 3D cityscapes look quite stunning.

The recreation of the Houses of Parliament in London (that's the capital of The Greatest Britishes, by the way comrade) is especially detailed and beautiful. A shame it's left standing, unscathed, after the bouts.

The combat is turn-based, and as is becoming regrettably more frequent in such tournament fighting titles, you don't actually take control of the awesome-looking mechs.

Spin on this

Fighting is handled by just three taps of the screen. Both you and the alien you're up against have three slots for a combat technique; attack, block and smash. These all have a strength and a weakness, so blocks defeat attacks, for example, and a smash breaks through a block.

Icons for each option cycle, fruit machine style, at the bottom of the screen, and a tap selects the one that's revolving past you at the moment.

Just before the bout you're given a flash of your opponent's upcoming moves, so you can aim to counter strategically.

Actually hitting the option you want is tricky, but not impossible, and once all three have been selected the fighting takes place automatically. And then you keep doing this until one of you is dead.

Mecha mash-up

More powerful finishing moves can be charged by building up your energy meter through successful attacks and counters, and these are impossible for your opponent to block.

It's a nice touch that gives you a little something else to do in the otherwise lacklustre, and almost nonexistent combat.

All the while you're earning small amounts of ore, which is the game's in-house currency, and is used to upgrade your mech at visits to the mechanic.

Additional game modes, including survival and arcade, make a sincere effort to keep things fresh, but ultimately you're still just tapping the screen in sequences of three.

Ores aren't easy to come by in any quantity, so if you want to stock up on items like extra energy or a whole new mech, it's going to cost you.

Some of these items, like the new robots, require you to play a fruit machine mini-game (costing 500 ores per spin), so you could easily deplete your reserves without even getting the item you're trying to buy. It's a rigged game (at first, anyway) so it often reimburses some of your coins, at least.

But it's indicative of the rest of Mecha Showdown. It's a game that looks incredible but is a passive and unengaging experience that's only purpose is to sell you IAPs that you don't really want.

Mecha Showdown

Although it's bursting with artistic detail, Mecha Showdown substitutes robot-on-alien combat for a superficial and ultra-basic slot machine simulator