P.N.03 – First impressions

I’m a few missions into P.N.03 now, so time for some first impressions.

It’s one of those games, you know? One of those ones that has you go through mission after mission, defeating enemy after enemy that looks exactly like the last one (I just killed one of these, didn’t I?) with seemingly no real story; maybe some minor dialogue that you kind of skim over to push the plot along. These kinds of games tend to be Japanese and often low-budget. Capcom has done a few (Lost Planet comes to mind), and this one is about as average as they get.

Not that I’m not enjoying myself. The music is catchy, and the gameplay isn’t terrible by any means. A little bit stiff at first, but once you get into the groove, it is surprisingly smooth. Even though you can’t move while attacking, a con mentioned by many critics, the animations blend together fairly well (though not as well as they could, or even should for a game like this) to make the slaying of these machines feel like a dance.

The game feels a little like Resident Evil 4, with the “tank” style movement and not being able to move while shooting, in addition to the 3rd person camera. I think a Devil May Cry style move-and-attack system would have worked much better for this game, to allow for more fluidity. The different suits are interesting, and how they each have two different “energy drives”. The energy drives are your primary power, and they use energy from your energy bar (hence the name). The drives are also where the sexy dancing comes in, although it’s quickly over, and eventually you’re left with no energy until you find more, which can be an annoyance.

Each mission contains a series of rooms. You must go through as many rooms as you can until the end of the mission (basically the last room, but it is possible to miss rooms), defeating enemies along the way. You gain points for defeating enemies, and kills can be chained together to rack up combos. After each room, you get a results screen that shows the room number, number of enemies destroyed, clear time, max combo, and bonus points for that room (you get an extra bonus if Vanessa doesn’t take any damage).  Points can be spent to buy new suits with new energy drives, more continues, or increased powers for your suit (such as health, damage, etc.).

The room results screen.

An example of a room where you can shop and save your game.

It is interesting that Shinji Mikami himself said he wasn’t very pleased with the way this game turned out. I think the game could have sold a bit better if it hadn’t been overshadowed by the other big Capcom games of that year, such as Viewtiful Joe and… Dino Crisis 3. Well, maybe not so much the latter. Yeah, forget I mentioned it. But there were other hits that year, such as Midnight Club II, Burnout 2, Silent Hill 3, Max Payne 2, SSX3, and Tony Hawk’s Underground. It was a big year for sequels, but the first Call of Duty was also hitting the scene in ’03. This was a transitional period, similar to what we’re having right now in the industry (Gears of War 3, Halo 4, another Tomb Raider and Modern Warfare 3, just to name a few). Companies were releasing sequels to tide people over until new ideas came along (remember, this was still before the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii were even announced).

One of the best games of all time came out in 2003, too. And it wasn’t a sequel.

Doing a sequel or two to a popular game obviously works, because every game on the top 10 bestsellers list in 2003 was from an old IP (that’s “intellectual property”. Hard to find that written out on the ‘net). Unfortunately, people take to sequels faster and more enthusiastically than brand new franchises. Even Halo didn’t really start selling until ’02, when people started realizing it was actually a good game. It’s more than that, though. A game has to become mainstream to make it into the top 10. Grand Theft Auto, Pokémon, Halo, Madden, Mario; these are franchises your grandparents are likely to have heard of, more so than Bloody Roar or Broken Sword.

Another great story-based game. This is the cover from the third game in the series.

Anyway, P.N.03 was just one of those games that fell by the wayside. I don’t know enough about the advertising of it to know if it was marketed correctly and all that, but I think reviews attesting to its mediocrity probably had something to do with low sales and cult status. Nevertheless, it’s entertaining so far. It’s just varied enough for me to keep going, and plus… Vanessa’s hot.


Check out all the steamy pictures here. Nah, they’re not really steamy. I just said that so you would click. Although, now that has me wondering if there’s a shower scene in this game…


~ by The Retro Gamer on June 11, 2011.

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