Wednesday, 5 March 2014

BCV: Battle Construction Vehicles (PS2)

BCV: Battle Construction Vehicles title screen
Today's B game is... BCV: Battle Construction Vehicles! AKA. Kensetsu Juuki Kenka Batoru: Buchigire Kongou!! Man I wish I could've made this title screen animated, it'd look so pretty with the cherry blossom blowing in the breeze.

This was one of the PlayStation 2's earliest games, out in Japan before the console had even launched in North America or Europe, though it took three whole years before it got an English release. Sadly the game never did make it over to the US, but it did make it over onto my shelf somehow; which is weird because I definitely didn't buy it. It just sort of appeared there one day out of nowhere. I'm hoping that if I play it for a bit and discover its dark secrets it might disappear again and become someone else's problem.

I do know that it was developed by Artdink, makers of A-Train, No One Can Stop Mr Domino, and a whole bunch of anime tie-in games. Though it's been published by Midas, which is kind of a big warning sign to me as... well it seems harsh to say that everything they touch turns to shit, but I haven't had a lot of luck with their games so far.

Before the game starts there's an video that shows off the characters, intercut with various cel shaded bulldozers and diggers knocking each other around on a construction site.

The overexcited redhead from the title screen is a bulldozer driver called Hayato Kongo, though you wouldn't have guessed from his accent. I can't pinpoint it exactly, but I'd put him closer to London than Tokyo.

"I was born in a construction vehicle. No one can match my control! - Hayato Kongo," he assures me.

He's soon joined by a whole group of construction vehicle fighters who introduce themselves one by one, each with slightly less to say than the last, until the final guy basically just grunts and yells his name.

My favourites are the ones with the longer names like 'Tamanojo Matsubayama' and 'Kyoko Tachibana', because of how awesome it is hearing an obviously English voice actor come out with it and try to make it sound natural. Not that shouting out your name isn't going to sound goofy wherever you're from.

After the prelude, the intro video itself begins, showing Hayato running in terror up a dark staircase, and then bursting out onto a roof. He leans against a wall to catch his breath and waits, listening to hear if his pursuer is following him up here.

Yep, someone just went and drove a construction crane up the staircase and onto the rooftop to get him. It smashes the crane arm into the wall next to him, giving Hayato a chance to jump up onto it and have a chat with the driver.

It turns out that the old man is only chasing him because he wants him to succeed his father as the  head of the Kongo Construction Company. All the construction work has been taken over by rival company Shurabe Corp. since his father's death, but with him in charge they may have a chance to recover.

"Shut it gramps" is basically his response, though he eventually agrees to come down to the office and have a proper conversation about it.

Then after the proper conversation is over, he wishes the man well and goes off to find his own destiny, as he really does has zero interest in driving heavy vehicles for a living.

Danoura doesn't take it all that well and now Hayato has crane problems again.

Holy shit, that face! It's a real shame that the voices stopped when the message boxes started, as I would've liked to hear the actor try to read his lines in a way that matches that expression.

Danoura has Hayato trapped, but he's trapped in a warehouse full of heavy machinery. He runs for a bulldozer and starts it up while giving a speech on how he hates a crazy, balding, toothless, bespectacled, dumb and rampaging old pensioner more than a dip in raw sewage.

I'm definitely getting the impression that it may be on.

Right, this seems to be the gameplay then. Hayato and Danoura have taken it outside to the yard and now I'm driving the bulldozer myself, trying to wreck the other guy's crane. It's basically a fighting game except with heavy machinery, a battle between construction vehicles you could say. The trouble I'm having with that though, is that I'm driving a bulldozer, and the thing doesn't exactly dance around the arena like a martial artist.

I figure though that my best chance of causing some damage is to dodge to the side of the crane arm and ram right into him with my blade.

Oh crap, what does this mean? What do I do? I'm hammering the X button but it doesn't seem to be doing anything. Triangle isn't helping either. They just keep yelling at each other as the screen fills up with beams of light.

"C'MON!"
"YOU BUMBLER."
"C'MON!"
"YOU BUMBLER."
"C'MON!"
"YOU BUMBLER."
"C'MON!"
"YOU BUMBLER."
"C'MON!"
"YOU BUMBLER."
"C'MON!"
"YOU BUMBLER."

Whatever that was I'm guessing that Danoura was the winner, as it went and repaired the entire 1% of damage I'd managed to inflict on him.

So I've decided to take another approach: slamming into his back wheels instead. I don't mean to give you the impression that anything about this process has been fast though. Now I'm basically just keeping him pinned against the wall and tapping triangle to repeat my main attack.

Though hang on, what does a yellow dotted circle mean? Should I be backing out of it? Does this thing even have a reverse gear, because pulling back doesn't seem to be doing much.

Ah, getting caught in the yellow dotted circle means that my bulldozer is dragged off to the Kendo dimension, where a ghostly figure grabs the crane like a sword and smacks me with it a few times.

"Crane sword blade!" Danoura helpfully explains. It seems I have a lot to learn about construction work.

And so Hayato is left sitting in the smoking ruin of his bulldozer, presumably cursed to spend the rest of his days running the Kongo Construction Company.

I couldn't bear to leave him like that though, so I chose to continue and this time I pushed that bastard's crane into a corner while tapping that attack button even harder! 34 seconds later it was all over, I had won.

Because of his awesome victory, Hayato is now cursed to spend the rest of his days running the Kongo Construction Company! His days of violent construction have begun.

Oh and by the way, there's no one else working here as they all quit when his father died, so now Hayato and Danoura have to recruit a new team. Danoura's first suggestion is Tamanojo Matsubayama, known as the Machinery Prince (hey I know him from the intro), but Hayato thinks it's more sensible to go after the Machinery King instead. Why Danoura struggles to explain the nickname, Hayato interrupts to find out if he has a shot at meeting the Machinery Queen.

Eventually Danoura manages to drag him over to see Tamanojo in action, and Hayato decides to offer him a job on the spot.

Well actually he kind of just walks up and claims him as an employee, then demands to know his birthday, address and work permit number. Tamanojo wisely chooses to ignore the strange lunatic, leading to an enraged Hayato firing Danoura on the spot for suggesting him.

So yeah basically this escalates into another construction vehicle fight.

You might be wondering how a construction vehicle is able to block attacks and it's really quite simple: I hit the X button and girders spring out of the ground to defend me. Or him in this case.

I'm still playing as Hayato, though I seem to be driving Danoura's crane this time. There's no way to pick trucks or characters in single player by the way, it's Hayato all the time.

Danoura made claims earlier than Tamanojo could make machinery float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, which was kind of backed up I guess by the way giant translucent butterflies flew out of his vehicle while we spied on him at work. But right now it's mostly just crawling around like a digger at a construction site.

Oh, well there you go. He just stung me like an exploding bee. I guess that's what I get for doubting him.

But hang on, how come they keep getting to do special attacks on me? When do I get my own dotted circle to get them pinned within?


SOON.


Aha, there you go. "Grand slam homer!" Hayato calls it, which is as good a name as any I guess for a move where you summon up a baseball stadium and hit a home run on the enemy with your crane arm.

It seems that the special moves charge up while we're hitting each other, so we can only fire them off once or twice during a fight. That reminds me, battles only last the one round in this and I have apparently infinite continues, so there's always a chance I can pull off a lucky win.

Another victory, another interlude. This time it's a sketch about Hayato finding out that one of his dad's former employees has learned that the company is back in business and is coming back to work with 'Uncy Danoura'. Oh and they're called Beth.

They keep going with this set up for a while, but...

... they kinda gave away who Beth is in the video at the start, so I already know the punchline.

Weirdly I don't have to fight Beth here as he joins the team without any drama. So the chapter just ends after the cutscene and I'm given another chance to save.

Okay cool, I'm finally going up against Shurabe Construction this time, competing with them for a contract. Of course there's only one way that such a thing can be settled...

...blackmail.

Actually this is just evidence that the 'fair' bidding process that got Shurabe this job wasn't quite so fair. It's enough leverage to get us a construction vehicle battle against our rival company: winner takes the contract.

"I guess I'll have to fight you!"

I was curious about whether they'd only drawn the one picture for hot blooded Hayato that they keep reusing, but a thorough investigation has revealed that it's not quite that limited.

Hayato just doesn't have a whole lot of emotions I guess. The man is always either impossibly smug, or he's yelling something.

I still don't think I know how to play this game, though I can manage to pull off a proper attack every now and again. There's three attack buttons: front, left and right, and they're either really unresponsive or I'm supposed to be holding them down to charge my attacks up. I've had the most luck so far with just driving up to the other vehicle and tapping front attack over and over until I've won.

By the way I didn't have to play around with the camera to get this shot, it does this on its own. The controls are vehicle relative though, so it's not a huge issue... until I end up driving right into a wall I couldn't see and getting stuck. Though I at least get to have a good look at all that beautiful battle damage I've inflicted on the enemy bulldozer.

This is my digger special attack then, a puddle and some lightning? Disappointing. Though effective, as I finished off the Shurabe Force Captain in just 20 seconds with it.

I am really not enjoying the gameplay in this at all, maybe there's some hidden depth to it I'm not seeing but it's so slow that it doesn't really encourage exploring the levels or trying new things out. Though if all the fights are going to be over with as fast as this was then I'm happy enough to keep going just to watch the cutscenes.


LATER.


Hang on Hayato, what are you doing? I know you need new employees, but gambling everything you own on a single fight seems a little bit... entirely in character.

Alright fine, lets get this over with then. This guy's the last person I've yet to recruit from that group shot at the start of the game, so I must be getting near some kind of conclusion by now.

Crap, he's driving around in a steam roller, which means a frontal attack hurts me more than it does him!

I'm trying to steer this ship around to hit him from the side, but he's got the same idea so we're just slowly circling each other. It's a fairly big yard with some junk lying around, so I guess I could try luring him into it, but I'm just as likely to end up getting stuck myself driving this thing. 

I'll need to figure out something to break this stalemate soon though, or else that timer's going to tick down to zero and Hayato will lose everything.

Uh, hang on, what's happening? Did he just... has he got a naked guy throwing javelins at my bulldozer?

He sunk my bulldozer! That utter bastard.

Oh well I'd love to give him a rematch, but... oops I just selected not to continue. I was kind of hoping for a cutscene where Hayato loses everything and is thrown out onto the street (which is basically what he wanted from the start anyway) but all I got was a game over message.

I should probably mention that the game also has a versus mode, which shouldn't come as a massive shock to to anyone. What is surprising though is that I have to unlock each of the characters in single player before I can use them. I can understand leaving a few off the roster for people to earn, but this seems a bit excessive.

Seeing as this is the only chance I get to play as someone other than Hayato, I'm going to choose Shurabe driver Aya Jumonji over on the right. She drives a green bulldozer, which I don't think I can change, but hey green's different! I haven't been green before.


BUT THEN.


Man, I don't even know what he just used on me. Traffic controllers? Whatever it was it worked. Damn you Hayato Kongo!


CONCLUSION

BCV: Battle Construction Vehicles feels like a game based on an anime series that was never made, but that isn't really a bad thing. I found the cutscenes to be genuinely funny for the most part and the British dub actually works to the game's benefit. The real problem with the game is all those bits in between where you have to smack two construction vehicles together.

I'm not so great at fighting games and vehicle deathmatch games ain't my thing, so I'm perhaps not the ideal person to be passing judgement on it, but so far I'm not finding the fun here. Switching up to hard mode seems to speed it up and make the driving more bearable, and it might be a laugh in two player, but I can't wait to never play this again.


Leave a comment if you feel like it. Opinions are welcome.

5 comments:

  1. I love how the options in the main menu look like the subtitle of the game is "Story VS Options." That is a story I'd like to see.

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  2. Gameplay sounds like Rise of the Robots but in 3D.

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    Replies
    1. Less flying kicks.

      Also this is more of a bad idea produced with a degree of competence and skill, while Rise of the Robots is a good idea apparently put together by monkeys. Though repeatedly hammering buttons like a idiot worked against the early opponents in BCV, some required me to negotiate the level and use obstacles against them, and there's quite a bit of room for players to chase each other around. Rise of the Robots on the other hand... well the version I played of it could basically be finished by resting something on the controller.

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  3. So, if it just ended up being an anime movie about people fighting construction vehicles...no room for complaints. I always wondered about this game, and I'd still pay $3 for it on half.com, but...ehh...
    So much promise.
    So much potential.
    Wasted.

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  4. That was really funny Ray, thanks!

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