Triggerheart Exelica is now available on both the Xbox Live Arcade and the Dreamcast (yes, I did say DreamcastâŚ) but you could be readily forgiven for being in the dark about this particular title. Not only because itâs strikingly average, but also because itâs so short youâre likely to play through the game before realising your purchase has finished downloading. Blink and youâll miss Triggerheart. Although, upon reflection, that may be the better option.
A good old-fashioned vertical scroller, Triggerheart tells the story of two âTriggerheartsâ, Exelica and Crueltear, as they try to defend Earth from the invading Verâmith. While addictively fun games have indeed been built on shakier plot foundations (Pyro Sand anyone?), Triggerheart may have benefited more from having almost no story. With introductory promises of your hybrid girl/machine âTriggerheartsâ needing to fight a truly epic battle to save the cheerleader world, the resulting game is something of a let down.
At only five levels in length, Triggerheart can be played through on easy difficulty in the space of a few decent yawns. Over before Iâd even understood what was going on, I returned and immediately played on hard, which induced growls of frustration. Sure, endless continues do make it easier but with an shoot âem up game like this, the purpose isnât merely to complete it, but to complete it well. The good old High Score temptation is present, although casual gamers should start out on the regular difficulty setting or risk a huge disappointment.
Appearing to be just an old-school, button-mashing, messy vertical scroller, Triggerheart uses some surprisingly complex game tactics which can be coaxed out with a little trial and error. The standard âattackâ button allows your chosen Triggerheart to fire out in front and the collectable âbombsâ allow you to clear most of the enemies in the immediate vicinity. The unusual (and admittedly overlooked, at first) âanchorâ function is where the fun really starts. As the name suggests, the anchor ability lets you hook onto most enemies and then use the caught entity as a shield or throw it to inflict more damage. At normal and hard difficulties, the use of the anchor becomes vital, and transforms the game into something a little more interesting. The other notable gameplay feature here is the Variable Boss Attack System that has been quietly inserted. In layman terms, the game adjusts its difficulty in the middle of a boss fight, depending on your in-game performance. Snazzy!
Visually, Triggerheart can be a bit of a nightmare. At times, the screen becomes so frustratingly busy youâre often not sure if itâs your Triggerheart youâre looking at, or one of a million projectiles being spewed across the screen. HD or no, the animation is both bland and cluttered, leaving you wanting more and also much much less on screen at any given time. Admittedly it is an arcade game, but when you play an arcade game with a 360 controller in your hand, itâs easy to expect great things, at least graphically.
The sound is enthusiastic andâŚ...enthusiastic. In fact, the sound came across as so very enthusiastic, cheesy and dated, I kept expecting D.J. Tanner to burst through the door and present me with a family-based moral dilemma. The small amount of dialogue, although obviously translated, is thankfully Engrish free.
In the end, Triggerheart fell down as a game that didnât grip me or leave me with the desire to appreciate more fully, so there was very little personal enjoyment. I wonât deny the fact that there will be a niche market of arcade gamers excited to see Triggerheart Exelica. It makes up some ground with sheer enthusiasm and hidden gameplay tactics, so shouldnât be discounted as a playable game, but it almost certainly wonât be appealing enough for the fickle masses of the current gaming generation. Currently retailing for 800 MS Points, Triggerheart isnât going to break the bank, but be mindful that youâll likely get what you pay for.