Metal Walker

Metal Walker is a Gameboy Color RPG.  It came out in 1999 in Japan, and in 2001 in the US.  It reminds me a lot of Pokemon.  The gameplay of the game, much like Pokemon, encourages a “collect all enemies” viewpoint, and has a fairly high encounter rate.

This early cutscene features the father on the right, and the hero on the left. The father is yelling that the "Metal Busters are coming!"

As a game goes, the plot is pretty simple.  On a ruined island, people search for interesting scraps of metal left behind after a failed attempt to study cores (basically, they allow machines to ‘evolve’.)  Your hero is the son of a famous scientist, and was separated from him when you were attacked by dangerous robots.  Now, you have to find cores, to try to find your father, and explore the land.

This is the cutscene for scanning an enemy in Metal Walker.

To attack, you have the “meta-ball’.  This little round robot basically acts like a pool ball.  Bump a wall to ricochet off at an angle, bump an enemy for damage, bump an item for healing, and so on.  When enemies bump an analyzer, you can learn their unique attack and take it to a shop to buy it.  Battles give you scrap metal, which in turn can be used for items.

More of the scanning animation in Metal Walker. Each type of item seems to have a unique sprite.

The difficulty curve is a bit sharp in the game.  Since you pick your angle and “strength” of push on each movement, you can overshoot or undershoot an item.  If a monster gets your healing item, or a bomb off before you can heal, you will die.  Analyzing an enemy requires tricking it to go into your analyzer.  If the enemy isn’t inclined to do that, you can spend a long time fussing with the AI.  You can’t heal outside of battle, so the game encourages a slower and more cautious pace.

The rival like character in Metal Walker tells the hero he can thank her for staying in this house tonight.

A rival character, much like your rival in Pokemon, is in the game.  She seems to be intended to be kind of humorously rude.  The translation feels a bit rough, probably due to space issues.  People talk about arrows instead of directions a lot and there’s occasional clunky and awkward lines of dialogue.

The cramped text boxes in Metal Walker leaves the conversations awkward at points.

All in all, the game is trying something new.  Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t do this new stuff perfectly, but the game is ambitious.  Graphically, it’s decent for a Gameboy Color game.  Musically, it’s nothing interesting, but it does have a unique feel to the game.   I think just writing it off as a Pokemon clone ignores the ways that it changes the formula.


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