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 Post subject: Triggerheart Exelica (XBOX360 / XBOX One Compatible)
PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2016 9:12 am 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
Posts: 352
Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
*Imitating Chris Latta's Starscream voice* "I was BETRAYED!, Crueltear and the Constructicons lack courage!, It was NOT MY FAULT!!"
*In Frank Welker's Megatron Voice* "You are an idiot, Starscream. If it wasn't for Crueltear, the Constructicons would be blown to pieces by the Autobots."

"¿Crueltear?, ¡DECEPTICONS!"
, After hearing the word "Crueltear" anyone could think The Transformers, most exactly on the Decepticons, while such a name sounds like it came from Hasbro, it was from the japanese videogame company Warashi who gave the shmup community the word Crueltear as the name for one of the characters from its last shmup.
Yeah, i'm talking Triggerheart Exelica, which was released on the XBOX Live Arcade on 2008, and 8 years later it sees the light on the XBOX One as one of the Backwards Compatible titles like Ikaruga.

Unlike the Dreamcast and the PlayStation 2 "Enhanced" versions, the XBOX360/XBOX One version of Triggerheart Exelica has a curious way to start up. Once the XBOX Live Arcade and Warashi logos are gone and you've passed the ESRB Notice/Now Loading screen, you'll be on the Main Menu. Along with the option of "Play Game" you can also check the Leaderboards, your Achievements and of course check the "Help & Options" menu where you can adjust the controls, sound and game settings. You can also check the story of the game explaining how the Triggerhearts arrived to Earth and a brief description of the main characters.

Picking "Play Game" sends you to the Title Screen. The game starts as soon as you press the A button or returns to the menu by pressing B. Once you start the game you'll notice the lack of both Story Mode or Arrange Mode and it sends you directly to the "Select your Triggerheart" screen. For anyone who played both Dreamcast and PlayStation 2 versions will think "What a letdown", but if you remember how unrewarding the Arrange Mode ending was and how obnoxious were those In-game interruptions on Story Mode, you'll be fine, trust me.

The Dreamcast hit shooter is back and better!

The game itself is a re-structured version of the "Arcade Mode" which now includes new features, starting up with the "Item Bonus" which is now based on the Arrange Mode (Example: If you had 3,000 x19.1 in Arcade, it becames 30191 in Arrange Mode), and a multi-ending route based on the Story Mode. To achieve the True Ending you have to unlock the battle encounters with Faintear Imitate on stages 1 and 3, and surviving the game without continuing. Otherwise you'll get the Normal Ending.
There's new achievements to be unlocked like clearing the game in a specific difficulty, playing without using bombs and surviving without continues as well, these achievements add "Gamerscore" points to your XBOX 360 Account (and your XBOX One if you have the game there).

Anyone who is familiarized with the gameplay of Triggerheart Exelica will know how the thing is. The main feature of this game is the "Anchor Unit", which captures your enemies so the player can use them as their shield, or toss them away. To throw your enemies you have to spin, either left or right (this can be done manually or activating the "Auto Rotate" to make the game spin your character for you), depending on how fast your Triggerheart rotates, the faster and further your captured enemy will be thrown before exploding. Basically this is one of those few games that plays using some of the laws of physics (Moment of Inertia and Centrifugal Force). As shields, they can absorb some bullets before exploding, each bullet becomes a "Bonus Item". This items have a few points value once they appear, to make them grow in size and value you have to press and hold the fire button until they get the larger size possible before going offscreen, once you let the button go, all the scattered Bonus Items will be absorbed by your Triggerheart unit. However, the Anchor Unit has its limitations, of you try to capture a land-based enemy or a boss, it will be on a "Lock-On" mode which slows your Triggerheart down, giving you a boost in manuevering through bullet curtains. Gathering the largest amount of "Item Bonus" is the key of the V.B.A.S. (Variable stage Boss Attack System) which increases the number of forms in a boss battle in a very similar style of Compile's ALC (Automatic Level of difficulty Control function) "Power Play" feature of Zanac A.I., the V.B.A.S. also activates the battles with Faintear Imitate in stages 1 and 3, like i said before, unlocking all this battles are the key to reach the "True Ending" of this game.

There's two available characters in this game; the TH60 Exelica, who combines Spread Shot with slow speed, thus resulting in a "Beginner Type" character for those who are new in this game, and her sister unit Crueltear. The TH32 is the "Average/Expert Type" as she uses a Straight shot and fast speed. Both Triggerhearts have the same type of bomb which clears the screen of bullets and damages the enemy, along with bringing a brief time of invincibility for the player.

Losing Item Bonus is the least thing you want to happen during gameplay. If you get hit or killed, you'll lose all your Item Bonus (10,000 to 0 must hurt), so you have to know when is the right moment to toss a captured enemy or drop one of your bombs. There's an instance in the game where the player can destroy a specific part of a boss to get bonus items, Stage 3. The first "form" of the boss has destructible wings that can be destroyed in 3 parts (Example: 1-2-3-CENTER-3-2-1), an expert player capable enough of manuever through the bullets and destroying the wings within the time limit (comprised by a counting down bonus score) can obtain a good amount of Bonus Items.

Graphically, the XBOX Live Arcade is the strongest of the three console versions, as the HD and graphic engine of the XBOX360 heavily improves what we've saw on the Arcade and Dreamcast version. By redesigning the stages and characters, the overall details and the vibrant colors, the game included 5 new wallpapers to cover the black space on the sides of the screen. The game has now a complete vertical screen mode in both vertical and horizontal angles.

UPDATE I (October 2019): Playing this game in the XBOX One brings an additional point in favor: Shorter loading times. Now the game runs faster than the XB360 making the game's level-transitioning more arcade like.

While we're all familiar with Exelica and Crueltear, something that the game doesn't specify is what are the Triggerhearts exactly? We known they're humanoid weapons systems, but they don't specify how human they are. If they're organic, mechanical or a mix of both. The now defunct Warashi site gave hints about that as they mentioned Triggerhearts are built with high-grade materials and there's quality control in C.H.I.L.D.A.'s development teams, along with the use of implanted personalities in the "Triggerheart System". That reminds me a lot of the 1996 anime Saber Marionette J.
While Mecha Shoujo/Mecha Musume is very common in Japan, the game has a reminiscence of the 1986's cartoon Centurions: Power Xtreme as we have these girls using Extension Equipments that share some resemblance to the Centurions Assault Weapon Systems making Exelica, Crueltear and Faintear (both Original and Imitate) look like the "spiritual successors" of Max Ray, Jake Rockwell and Ace McCloud.
An observation like this would make the game deserve the nickname of "Centurions without the license", but i think the best nickname for Triggerheart Exelica will be "Saber Marionette with Spaceships", pretty much like Blazing Star is commonly known among Neo-Geo fans as "Metal Slug with Spaceships".

The music and sound became another point in favor, by rearranging the "midi-like" music with a more high quality sound giving us the definitive and perfected version of the Arcade soundtrack. The voice acting is the same of the original game, but with new dialogues, some of them picked from the Story Mode while the rest is made specially for this game. Curiously the off-voice that says "Triggerheart Exelica" on the title screen is missing, some might think it's unnecessary since the logo is translated, which is kinda odd because the japanese logos in the Arcade, Dreamcast and PS2 Enhanced versions have the english written name below the "トリガーハート エグゼリカ" katakana.

UPDATE II (October 2019): Now that i have the game, i've discovered that the game includes the arranged music AND the original Arcade/Dreamcast soundtrack. Picking the original soundtrack brings the midi-like music of the original game, but combined with the new graphics of the XB360 port, makes the game look like a more complete port of the arcade game, think about it as playing the game the way it was really intended to be played. Also, there's a new voice sample for the System Voice that says "Let's Go" everytime the player adjusts the voice volume.

Apparently, someone forgot that "Nee-san" means sister.

While the game has some great features and points in favor, there's two things that some fans dislike.

Anyone who played the Story Mode will know that Exelica calls Crueltear "Sister" (姉とし = Nee-san), on the english subtitles, she calls her by her name instead.

Translation errors are quite common in the dialogues. A good example is when Crueltear is captured by Ver'mith Ennda at the end of the "Normal Ending Route" of Exelica, she screams "Yamete!!" (やめて = Stop!!), but is wrongly translated as "No! Let her go!". Also, before the first battle with Faintear Imitate in Stage 1, Crueltear says "A-anata wa?" (Is that you?), but its translated as "Y-You!?"

The scene of controversy among Triggerheart fans: ¿Is this Close-up some sort of Censorship?

But the most criticized and controversial thing among Triggerheart fans was the Normal Ending for Crueltear, which was "Censored" on this version, if you've played this game before on the Arcade, Dreamcast or PS2 her ending goes like this: As she's falling backward (the hand-drawn cinematic) her entire body is displayed and you can clearly see her crotch. Yeah, she has a swimsuit/leotard-like outfit (Triggerheart Spec Suit to be exact), but there's barely any coverage since her armor was removed for unexplained reasons. In the XBLA port, the image starts out more zoomed in on her face and never pans out enough to show her entire body. Also, the Stage 3 result screen illustration of the Arcade and Dreamcast versions was changed for no discernible reason.

That kind of censorship makes me ask this question "Was Warashi pulling a "4Kids" on this game?" and if it wasn't Warashi, who was it? "Parental Concerns" are out of the question since this game is not known by many people back then. So, i could blame Microsoft on a possible "Family Friendly" thing but that would be VERY CONTRADICTORIOUS if we consider the fact that they didn't complained about other (and more revealing) videogame girls such as Cortana (Halo series, mostly the Halo 4 version), Diol Twee (Otomedius), Tracer (Overwatch), Miranda Lawson (Mass Effect 3) and any of the Dead or Alive girls, not to mention they kept the "Character Touching" in Otomedius Excellent uncensored and unedited in the US version.

If any of them had a problem with the skimpy-clothed girls, it'd be more convenient to change the characters with something different. ¿Remember Probotector?, those european versions of Contra where humans were replaced with robots?, or even like Sapo Xule: S.O.S. Lagoa Poluida (Brazilian Astro Warrior). They could do the same with Triggerheart Exelica, remove the girls, replace them with original designs or with Gundams, Macross Valkyries or even Transformers instead of doing this unnecessary censorship, and at the same time had an original variation or even a licensed title based on another game.


- The XBLA port is the only one where the "Triggerheart Exelica" title screen voiceover is absent.
- It is the last console port where Yuko Ishibashi voiced Faintear Imitate.
- It is also the only port where an ending is censored.
- The acronym for C.H.I.L.D.A. was never mentioned, the reason of this was because the director Hirune never mentioned that during the development of the game.
- Warashi's english site mispelled C.H.I.L.D.A. as "Tilde Fleet".
- C.H.I.L.D.A.'s decision of creating the Triggerhearts as female units was because they've discovered the female body have higher anti-impact capabilities than the male body.
- The game's new "structure" was reassigned as the Arcade Mode in Triggerheart Exelica Enhanced.
- The game's overall speed was slightly reduced in the Enhanced version.
- The arranged music was also repurposed as the background music in the PS2 Enhanced port.
- The PS2 Enhanced port decensors Crueltear's Normal Ending, but keeps the Stage 3 result illustration of the XBLA version.
- This game is the last time where we can hear Crueltear with an adult tone of voice because it re-uses the voice samples of the Arcade and Dreamcast ports. The reason of this was because Kozue Shimizu re-worked the character's voice in the drama CD Triggerheart Exelica Parallel Anchor, and using it later for Triggerheart Exelica Enhanced.
- The game's "Wallpapers" were also used in Triggerheart Exelica Enhanced, however, Faintear's wallpaper was renamed as "Imitate" since the original Faintear was included in the PS2.
- The background wallpaper of Crueltear used in the XBOX Store and the pre-start up when the game is selected in the XB1 is from the Enhanced version. (Apparently, someone at Microsoft is a fan of the TH32).

Overall, we have a well made home console version of an arcade game with very small flaws that will keep fans satisfied. But, the final question is "Do i recommend it?", Well, ¿Have you played the Arcade Mode on the PS2 Enhanced version?, then you have played the XBLA version already, i can only recommend it to hardcore (or should i say "Heartcore") Triggerheart fans, otherwise stay on the PS2, you'll have the same Anchor-fun action without needing an XBOX Live connection along with a playable Triggerheart Faintear as an extra and an animated opening as well.

UPDATE: I discovered why Crueltear has such an unusual name for a girl.
The Triggerheart concept designer "GRA" (real name Kazuhiko Kakoi) originally created Crueltear as an unmanned weapon known as the Anchor Unit Test Frame Crueltear, a robot built to test the function and capabilities of the Anchor Unit.
However a staff member suggested him a change in the character design, resulting in the Triggerheart Unit TH32. However, GRA liked the name, so he didn't considered a name change, as a result, the name "Crueltear" was given to the Triggerheart.

If the Test Frame wasn't changed, it'd be the only character of the Triggerheart Exelica universe who was capable of firing without a gunner ship and using an Anchor Unit without a Triggerheart to control them.

It is also known as "Crueltear Anchor Frame".

The Test Frame makes an appearance in the Material Anchor manual of the Dremcast Version and the Archive Anchor guide-artbook as well.

Great design, but it won't probably work for a Mecha-Shoujo game.

This concludes my review of the XBLA version of Triggerheart Exelica. Here's a little bonus.
10 years ago, i became a Triggerheart fan because of this pic.
Fan of Transformers, Shmups and Anime-styled Girls. You're teamed up with the right pilot!
Bringing you shmup reviews with humorous criticism.

STG Wikias: Thunder Force Wiki - Wikiheart Exelica - Ginga Force Wiki

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