Vist Genki!

Format: PlayStation
From: Sony
Year of Release: 1997
Onscreen Language: English/Japanese

Ghost in the Shell


A very early PlayStation release. You play an un-named rookie fighting alongside Major Kusanagi and her unit against an unknown terrorist threat.

The action is viewed from within your Fuchikoma a really cool mecha tank that is blessed/cursed with the ability to climb walls. The Fuchikoma may not look too tough on the surface but has some serious firepower available. You can take out targets individually with the Vulcan Cannon, in groups by using the lock-on missiles or for maximum damage try launching one of your limited supply of grenades.

There are twelve stages in all to blast around in your mecha with locations ranging from high-speed highway chases to intense sea battles and from the top of a tall skyscraper to the depths of a gloomy sewer. Each stage requires you to perform mission objectives set out in the plot but, what with this being an action game, they rarely involve more than obtaining codes by destroying enemy robots or shutting down force shields by blasting control stations.

The presentation is first class especially considering the game's early release. The game opens with a full motion cell/CG animation of the later stages and the stages themselves are often proceeded by chunks of story animated exclusively for this video game.

The voice acting is perfect and even goes as far as to use the vocal cast from the Manga Video release of the Ghost in the Shell movie lending it a real air of authenticity. All viewed cut scenes can be watched anytime you like from the options menu.

While the presentation is top notch and the graphics, sound and music are all very impressive the game is sadly let down on two fronts. One is repetition and the second is control.

With the concept of using both analog sticks at once still way off in the future (at this point many PlayStation players didn't even own the brand new Dual Shock controller) all of the Fuchikoma's movements are relayed by the left thumbstick; forward, back and rotate left/right. This works fine until you need to manoeuvre with an haste in which case you will find yourself vulnerable and wide open to attack as you slowly turn on the spot. This problem is slightly compensated for by the use of L1 & R1 for strafing left and right but this still doesn't make changing the direction you're facing any less annoying. Couple this with your mecha's insistence on climbing up any vertical surface it touches and you're in for some frustrating shoot-outs. Sony kindly provide you with a training section which is essential for learning the basic movement and control quirks but still doesn't overcome these irritating problems.

It's a shame that these control niggles spoil the game, even more so now than on it's release, as the plot is pretty intriguing and the final boss battle on the dizzying heights of a skyscraper, still in construction, make for some pulse racing, cinematic highlights.

Definitely worth a look by GitS fans old and new but be prepared to swear and curse when control of the Fuchikoma starts getting between you and the action!

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