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Jahanzeb Khan
24 Aug, 2009

WarTech: Senko No Ronde Review

360 Review | Remember this one?
Today we go deep into the back catalogue (well, maybe not too deep) and review an interesting and niche Xbox 360 title. This game almost completely slipped under the radar when it came out two years ago, though strangely enough it can still be found in retail. We now see whether this game is one of those ‘cult classics’ or a game that was deservingly overlooked.

Wartech: Senko no Ronde is a port of the popular Naomi-based arcade game in Japan and is an interesting hybrid of arcade fighters and scrolling shooters (or ‘shmups’). To put it in simpler terms, if someone decided to put Virtual-On, Zone of the Enders and a few shmups inside a blender, then the end result would be Wartech: Senko no Ronde.

The game features eight playable robots called ‘Rounders’, piloted by very unusual and overly androgynous characters. Each Rounder comes with its own unique characteristics, attack styles and B.O.S.S transformation. Like any fighting game, each Rounder has a different play style and they also have their very own special moves that require specific button inputs. The game progresses like any arcade fighter. You fight a Rounder in each stage until you reach the final boss. The game ends with two major boss fights, where both are quite challenging and creative.

Best game here that no one played? okay maybe not that good.

Best game here that no one played? okay maybe not that good.
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The game basically involves one-on-one battles between two Rounders and these battles take place in a small and empty 2-D plane. When at a distance, Rounders attack with their opponent with projectiles such as lasers, missiles, plasma shots etc. but up close they attack them with melee combos. One can also block/deflect/counter attacks and freely boost around within the plane. At this point the system reminds us of Zone of the Enders and Virtual-On, as they featured a similar battle system.

There is more to it however, as the game features special ‘B.O.S.S’ transformations. This basically transforms a rounder into a giant screen filling battle ship that is capable of unleashing a massive barrage of projectile attacks. These B.O.S.S transformations are essentially similar to the monstrous bosses you can find in shmup games and this also brings in the chaotic ‘bullet hell’ element. B.O.S.S transformations are limited by the transformation icons and they come with their own health bar, thus it is possible to destroy your opponent’s B.O.S.S transformation.

At the outset, it may seem as if the game is simple button bashing action, but there is actually some strategy involved. The charge meter plays an important role since it gets consumed whenever gamers block attacks, deflect attacks, use B.O.S.S transformations and unleash character specific special attacks. So one has to plan the attacks carefully, but the meter does fill up quickly especially when gamers use an “Overdrive”, this however causes the health/amour gauge to deplete.

Epic B.O.S.S battle.

Epic B.O.S.S battle.
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Boosting plays an important role and the system borrows heavily from Virtual-On. Gamers can even fire their weapon while boosting and even cancel a boost .The projectile attacks are also limited by ammo, and once a Rounder run out of ammo, it takes a few seconds to reload so it does not serve to just blindly shoot in the dark.

The game uses several camera angles mainly because it has so many different play styles. It is isometric most of the time, but when you get up close to your opponent for a melee combo attack, then its full 3-D. During boss encounters and B.O.S.S transformations it uses a top to down camera angle.

Wartech: Senko no Ronde overall plays reasonably well, It is easy to pick up and play but has enough depth and technique for those who are willing to give time to it. The controls work well for the most part but there are a few hiccups when it comes to performing close range combos. The ‘bullet hell’ element adds that dimension of constant dodging, which requires the studying of projectile and bullet patterns.The battles are fun and entertaining but like any other game in this unique genre, Wartech is meant to be played with human opponents. Offline multiplayer works well as both players share the same screen but there is a robust online mode available, if you can find anyone still playing.

Hyper extreme battle mode!

Hyper extreme battle mode!
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In terms of bonus content, Wartech feels like a lazy bare bones port. When it comes to single player modes there really isn’t much to keep gamers busy. There are two different story modes which are identical apart from the endings, and these are in the form of animation stills along with some text and voiceover. The game also has a score attack mode and a standard versus and training modes. The ‘Extras’ mode features high resolution artwork, an in-game encyclopedia and 3D Rounder models to spin around, but these extras in the end are just novelty. The game could have used a deeper single player mode, animated cut scenes and some Xbox 360 exclusive boss battles and characters. The lack of content alone makes it difficult to recommend this game to anyone other than the hardcore fan of such niche video games.

Graphically, this game looks like it was made for the Sega Dreamcast, which is no surprise given that it was built on Sega’s Naomi arcade board. The graphics of the Xbox 360 version are a significant improvement over the arcade original, but are still very simplistic. The 2-D particle effects seem to come straight out of a shmup game and the backdrops are quite bland. The Rounder models however are very colourful, vibrant and creative and they showcase some decent design and sci-fi anime flair. The soundtrack is a decent a mix of trance-techno that fits the sci-fi setting of this game quite well. The Japanese voiceover is simply superb which one can appreciate given that there is a constant flow of conversation among the characters during a match.

All in all, Wartech is a fast and fun game that requires a lot of quick reflexes and strategy. It is rare to find games like this in our video game market, so it is certainly worth checking out for its unique play mechanics. If you are a fan of Sega’s Virtual-On series and can tolerate bare bone ports of arcade games, then this game is for you. With like minded players Wartech can be a worthwhile purchase, but if you are planning to play this game by yourself then you may want to think twice.
The Score
Wartech: Senko no Ronde is a hard game to recommend to everyone due to its sheer lack of content but fans of this rare and dying genre should definitely check it out.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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3 Comments
4 years ago
I picked this up last year for $20 and have been telling myself that I will play it soon. It does look quite interesting.
4 years ago
It should never have been a full-priced retail 360 release. XBLA was the appropriate platform for it.
4 years ago
wow, WTF how bout reviewing some recent games?
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  7/06/2007 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $119.95 AU
Publisher:
  UBI Soft
Genre:
  Fighting
Year Made:
  2007
Players:
  2

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