As someone who loved the Mechwarrior franchise growing up, the thought of getting back in the mech pilots seat was appealing. Good news for us all then that RocketPunch Games brings us Hardcore Mecha, a 2D side-scrolling action packed mech shooter.
You play as Tarethur and his mech thunderbolt who are part of a mercenary group for hire. Your team are brought in on a rescue mission as extra support to save a lieutenant who has been kidnapped. From here the campaign takes you on a wild ride where you will battle over mercenaries, uncover conspiracies and unlock powerful weapons and abilities.
Along the way, you will embark on missions deep underwater, in space and across a number of urban environments. What is clear early on though is these environments are polished, they all work perfectly for their own reasons. Underwater levels slow you down just enough to make you feel like you are trapped in the water. The difference speeds between being in your mech and on foot change how you approach the level. All together the levels, despite the simplicity of side-scrolling, are fantastic and you feel you have plenty of freedom.
During and between levels you are treated to the typical fancy animations and cutscenes you would expect from a Japanese style mech game. Characters are artistically put together, with the story mainly being told through picture frame style cut scenes. However, you are treated to over the top animations for bosses and ultimate moves. The only shame is some of the bosses only have a short appearance. The game has a real Metal Slug feeling to it which works well.
Gameplay wise is pretty much getting your mech from the start of the mission to the end with a boss battle here and there. You do spend some time on foot and in a few other machines later on but most of your time is mech-based. There are plenty of mech developments you can unlock as you collect coins from destroying enemies. As you expect these will improve your armour, weapons and boost. You unlock supporting abilities such as a gun turret to drop, auto-repair or mines to name a few. Add in all the heavy weapons available to discover across the levels and you find plenty of reason to replay levels.
Once you complete a playthrough of the campaign you will unlock a simulation mode which is pretty much a wave survival game. Add in the training missions and the multiplayer element to the game and you find yourself with plenty of content to engage with. A campaign play will take about 6 to 8 hours if you are just completing levels and not looking for any hidden rooms. However, with a trophy for getting the best rank possible on each mission, I am sure I will be going back to master my mech piloting.
Now having all this gear on your mech does come with one drawback. It felt like I needed an extra set of fingers to master using all of them to the best of their ability. I would often forget I had another heavy weapon available as I tried to select mines instead of repair from my support items and most likely end up boosting across the screen instead. This could just be my lack of controller skills but defiantly something that would annoy me from time to time, even more so when I would die as I couldn’t self-repair quick enough.
Hardcore Mecha is a polished, well put together and enjoyable 2D side scrolling action platformer. It offers enjoyable and varied gameplay where using your mech effectively is like watching an ice skater perform their routine. Time your shoots perfectly as you shield boost into the next enemy while dropping a mine for the enemy behind you brings such joy. I didn’t come across any glitches, performance drops or issues in my playthrough. You could argue that the game is short but how do measure how long a game should be nowadays? Perhaps my wanting for a longer game reflects how enjoyable it was. If I would change anything in this game then it would be to do with the characters. There are plenty in the game and you have some interaction with them all but you only ever play as Tarethur which seems a waste. Some levels you have your partners with you but you can’t switch to them. However, with that said this game is certainly worth picking up and playing.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*