When many gamers saw the first PlayStation 2 commercials touting the future fantasy-like exploits of the PS9, they lost it. It was the final straw. Those over-exaggerated commercials represented the culmination of hype and bravado that Sony had been brandishing for months prior to the release of the system as if it could do no wrong. But that arrogance soon shifted to humility after Sony failed to make good on its promises and public opinion started to turn on them faster than Kelly turned on Sue. The proof would be in the pudding, and unfortunately, the pudding was mostly made up of forgettable shovelware like Gungriffon Blaze; a giant robot game that is not only lacking in innovation, but also fundamental principles that have guided winning titles since the days of the 8-bit NES system.
There are so many things wrong with Gungriffon Blaze, I barely know where I should begin. It's like a laundry list of how not to make a next-generation title.
For conveniences sake, let me start with the graphics. Gungriffon Blaze looks so unremarkable that I questioned why it was even developed for the PlayStation 2 and not on an older console. There aren't any significant new special effects on display, which is usually the norm for first-generation titles. Explosions and weapons animations are industrially mundane. 3D models of robots, vehicles and landscapes aren't particularly detailed or interesting in any manner, and on the whole, everything looks and animates unconvincingly. That of course is the first cardinal sin when it comes to making a good giant robot game. In order for the outrageous premise of hulking mechanical foot soldiers to work, players must need to believe that it's possible, and when a game looks as chintzy as this one, it's hard to suspend your own taste, let alone belief.
Spotting glaring holes in the gameplay was equally as obvious as the pitiful graphics. When not bothered by the grammatical errors and the poor type spacing in the text, I was befuddled by a control scheme that just didn't seem to want to cooperate, despite making sense on paper. Chalk it up to poor execution.
The controls were far from the only thing lacking, either. Unbelievably, there are only five scarce missions to the entire game, and the game makes minimal effort to tie the missions together in some form, story arc or continuity. Add to the fact that each mission can be replayed at higher difficulty levels only makes this a pill tougher to swallow. Not only is the advanced difficulty level gesture a poor substitute for lacking content, but it's also an insult to any consumer's intelligence.
Amazingly, the worst is still yet to come. The problem that plagues Gungriffon Blaze the most is that it never makes up its mind as to what kind of giant robot game it wants to be. On one hand, it tries to be an fast-paced action title with power-ups littering the landscape. On the other hand, it wants to be a serious simulator, with complex controls and mission objectives. The game never quite finds a good balance between the two styles, and the confusion is evident everywhere. The gameplay is too tough to be a fun action game, and there aren't enough standard-issue sim features -- like customizations, radars and tracking devices -- to deal with the complex and realistic elements. Gungriffon Blaze is sort of like the other Voltron made up of 15 vehicles; a confusing amalgamation.
File Gungriffon Blaze under "What were they thinking?" Game Arts is company that has been producing quality titles that date back to '80s, but Gungriffon Blaze is a horrible misstep for them. It's an embarrassment to their brand and another reminder that the PlayStation 2 isn't the end all of video game consoles that everyone was anticipating.