Title: Black Rock Shooter The Game
System(s): PSP (Also playable on Vita)
Release Date: April 23, 2013
Publisher (Developer): NIS America (Imageepoch)
ESRB Rating: “Teen” for Mild Language, Suggestive Themes and Violence
I was wondering how to begin this review. After all, Black Rock Shooter The Game is based on a character inspired by huke, a member of Supercell. The character Black Rock Shooter varies slightly in each incarnation, be it anime, manga or games, so it’s hard to pin her down.
So I figured, let’s start this off with the first incarnation of Black Rock Shooter, which appeared in the Supercell Vocaloid song “Black Rock Shooter,” and go from there.
One girl(?) can save the world.
We’re going extinct.
In 2032, aliens invaded Earth. We were overpowered and didn’t stand a chance. Within 19 short years, the entire human population is down to 12 people. Well, not just 12 people. 12 people and two living weapons. One is a failed prototype by the name of Nana.
The other is Black Rock Shooter.
Black Rock Shooter is awoken from statis in San Francisco as the game begins. With her massive Rock Cannon, she immediately wipes out all aliens in the vicinity, giving the remaining humans hope that their race and planet could survive.
She has her work cut out for her, as the remaining aliens are led by The Seven Apostles. These seven aliens are all that remains of a group of 15 that arrived years ago and are determined to carry out their mission to destroy Earth.
All I care about is running, gunning and Black Rock Shooter
Black Rock Shooter The Game is a pretty unique experience. It’s an RPG, but instead of expected turn-based battles, Black Rock Shooter grabs her gun and shifts to a third person shooter. Enemies come towards her, and the analog stick moves the Rock Cannon’s reticule to hover over each opponent and take them out. Strategy is even involved, as Black Rock Shooter can overheat if you fire too often or dodge too much. While it seems like something that would be a better fit for a handheld with a touch screen, I found the battles to be a lot of fun. It required more thought than I expected and I enjoyed the approach, as it really fit with both the character and in-game world. I especially enjoyed missions involving her motorcycle. Yes – she takes part in shoot-outs while riding as well, and they work just as well as standard battles.
When Black Rock Shooter isn’t taking part in these shoot-outs, which I think are the best part of the game, she’s often running around the field, trying to find more battles or mission points of interest. Each mission is taken from a main menu and, while they can be repeated to grind for more experience and help Black Rock Shooter level up, new ones must be taken to find out more about Black Rock Shooter and the aliens invading Earth. Since the battles are so unusual, I found said grinding to actually be a more enjoyable experience than usual, especially since that’s the only way to improve Black Rock Shooter. Her Rock Cannon remains the same, and leveling up bestows more health and abilities that make her more formidable.
Which brings me to a Black Rock Shooter The Game downside. Black Rock Shooter, Nana Grey and the aliens are the most interesting characters in the game. Most of the other survivors are bland stereotypes, with no personalities or any redeeming dialogue. It’s clear that the girls and the villains are the stars, and I only cared about them. Of course, that made it even sadder, as Black Rock Shooter The Game doesn’t give NIS America the opportunity to shine. I always enjoy the company’s localizations and this game is very straightforward. It’s clear they didn’t have a fantastic script to work with, though the story does get quite interesting as it explores Black Rock Shooter, Nana and the aliens origins.
Aside from the disappointing supporting cast, my only other complaint is the visuals. I can tell Imageepoch was trying to go for something very surreal, steampunk and beautiful. It never pans out. You can get the idea of what the developer was going for, but it never looks as beautiful, sharp and crisp as you want. This is especially true if you play Black Rock Shooter The Game on the Vita. When I downloaded and went through a few levels on my PSP, it looked a bit better, but the visual failings really stand out on the Vita.
Unconventional, but fun.
I’m glad Black Rock Shooter The Game is one of the last PSP games. It isn’t the prettiest adventure out there, but it does a great job of showcasing what the system was about. It’s an intriguing RPG with a story that gets quite interesting once a player invests a few hours, not to mention a battle system that borrows from other genres to liven up the adventure and bring Black Rock Shooter to life. Those looking to salute the system should pick up this adventure and remember the good times we’ve had with the PSP.