Phantom Crash & S.L.A.I.

Year: 2002
Genre: Action
Developer: Genki Co. Ltd
Publisher: Phantagram Interactive
Platform: Xbox

When someone thinks about Japanese mech combat games for consoles, at least those that don’t happen to involve Gundam in some fashion, the name that probably springs first to mind is FromSoftware‘s Armored Core series. That’s not to say there aren’t others, of course, but Armored Core has been a bit of a mainstay from its introduction in 1997 up until 2013’s Verdict Day. Genki, a company formed by two former Sega AM2 staff in 1990, created a pair of seventh generation console mech games that definitely take inspiration from Armored Core, especially 1999’s Master of Arena.

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Steambot Chronicles

Year: 2006
Genre: Adventure
Developer: Irem Software Engineering
Publisher: Atlus USA, 505 Games
Platform: PlayStation 2

Freedom in video games is an interesting concept. Intriguing, often expansive worlds and environments are made for games and quite often you want to just run around and explore. However, there is a big divide between how ‘Eastern’ (generally Japanese) and ‘Western’ (generally American) games show freedom. That is to say, Eastern games are generally very linear, with the designers wanting you to play a specific way and follow what they’ve scripted out – such as Final Fantasy XIII, which doesn’t have any sidequests until fairly late in the game. Western games have a tendency to be very ‘open’ and let you do what you want – The Elder Scrolls and Grand Theft Auto series being prime examples of this.

Steambot Chronicles, interestingly enough, decides to ride the line between the two in a steam-powered mech.

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