Triggerheart Exelica

Triggerheart Exelica is now available on both the Xbox Live Arcade and the Dreamcast (yes, I did say Dreamcast…) but you could be readily forgiven for being in the dark about this particular title. Not only because it’s strikingly average, but also because it’s so short you’re likely to play through the game before realising your purchase has finished downloading. Blink and you’ll miss Triggerheart. Although, upon reflection, that may be the better option.

A good old-fashioned vertical scroller, Triggerheart tells the story of two “Triggerhearts”, Exelica and Crueltear, as they try to defend Earth from the invading Ver’mith. 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 “Triggerhearts” needing to fight a truly epic battle to save the cheerleader world, the resulting game is something of a let down.

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At only five levels in length, Triggerheart can be played through on easy difficulty in the space of a few decent yawns. Over before I’d 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 ‘em up game like this, the purpose isn’t 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 “attack” button allows your chosen Triggerheart to fire out in front and the collectable “bombs” allow you to clear most of the enemies in the immediate vicinity. The unusual (and admittedly overlooked, at first) “anchor” 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 you’re often not sure if it’s your Triggerheart you’re 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, it’s easy to expect great things, at least graphically.

The sound is enthusiastic and…...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 didn’t grip me or leave me with the desire to appreciate more fully, so there was very little personal enjoyment. I won’t 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 shouldn’t be discounted as a playable game, but it almost certainly won’t be appealing enough for the fickle masses of the current gaming generation. Currently retailing for 800 MS Points, Triggerheart isn’t going to break the bank, but be mindful that you’ll likely get what you pay for.

"All your Triggerheart are belong to us."
- Triggerheart Exelica (XBLA)
Follow Own it? Rating: G   Difficulty: Medium   Learning Curve: 15 Min


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Comments Comments (1)

Posted by Donutta
On Tuesday 29 Jul 2008 12:14 AM
"[I]t almost certainly won’t be appealing enough for the fickle masses of the current gaming generation."

Yeah, that would be right. Damn kids today, This game was right up my alley though. Guess I'm just a dinosaur.