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 Post subject: Formation Z / Aeroboto (Arcade and Famicom)
PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2018 9:32 pm 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
Posts: 213
Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
Part Run N' Gun, Part Shmup, All Boredom. Transformability can't be this boring.

It was the mid-80's. The Transformers and its rival Challenge of the Gobots were making a revolution in the concept of toys and cartoons due to the premise of robots capable of transform into other things like cars, jets and even dinosaurs. In 1985, Robotech was hitting the scene bringing Macross, Southern Cross and Mospeada as a whole series.
Videogames were also a scenery where things were more than meets the eye, and one of the many games that involve robots and transformations was Formation Z, known in the american arcades as Aeroboto.

The game puts the player in control of the Aero-Soldier HAS-15 "Ixpel", a walking robot equipped with a Pulse Laser rifle. According to the back of the Famicom package, the story takes place in the year 2701, where you have to fight something or someone named Zanac (Any similarities with a Compile shooter is coincidence) and the Ixpel is the only one who can stop the invasion of the Earth.

As soon as you begin, you'll start the game as a walking robot in a self-scrolling Run N' Gun where you can only aim diagonally-up and diagonally down in a 45° angle. You can fire multiple shots by pressing the fire button. Holding it will activate the Charged Shot, learning this is essential since there's enemies immune to the normal shots like the Tanks and the bosses in the flight stages. Not to mention the Charge Shot makes your robot/ship recoil with each shot, so you have to make sure there's nothing behind you.
Since the game lacks the hability to crouch, you can only destroy the ground-based enemies by aiming down and hoping for the beam/Charge Shot to hit them. But you can jump and skip that enemy if you don't want to destroy it.

As a game that involves transformation, things change once you transform the Ixpel into a jet by pressing and holding the jump button. This is where the game resembles a shooting game.

Switching from robot to jet mode it doesn't just change the gameplay, it makes the screen go faster and allows a much larger range of movement. However there's two things to keep in mind when you transform Ixpel.
1.- Touching the ground or the sea results on Instant Death. Unlike Defender, you're prone to a ground collision by hitting the ground.
2.- Keep an eye on your Fuel Indicator on the bottom right part of the screen, you'll be consuming your Fuel.

If the Jet mode consumes fuel, you might be asking "¿How do i replenish it?", there's some "balloon-like" objects in the ground which act as your fuel items. It might be confusing at first since they don't have something that indicates they're items and most of the times you'll be avoiding them thinking they're another small enemy trying to kill you.
My strategy to save fuel is to remain in robot mode as long as you begin to see the sea covering most of the "ground" background. By the way, the only instances where can forget your worries about the fuel is during boss battles.

The battle takes place on Earth and in space, before proceeding to the space phase, you have to dock with the Booster, if you don't you'll be facing the boss again until you can dock successfully, docking as soon as possible is another bonus giving feature as the bonus points are your timer there. There's no ending in this game as it was one of those many arcade games with an endless loop that only ends after losing your last life.
There's the option of playing a two-player mode with a friend. However, the format back then only allowed an alternate Super Mario Bros.-like option of "Player 2 starts after player 1 loses a life".

The graphics part of the game is perhaps the best part of the game, as you start walking your way to the sea you can see how the grass and mountains make way to the beach and open sea and back to the mainland as you arrive to Egypt.

As for the sound, there's not too much to talk about as the game is absent of music and only your shots and explosions are the only things you're gonna hear throughout your mission. There's also "text writing" sound when the game tells you about the game's objective and when you get Game Over. Overall, that's all what i can say about the sound department of Aeroboto.

Aeroboto was ported in the Famicom as Formation Z. If the arcade version was quite boring, the console version is "Less than Meets the Eye". If the original Aeroboto was already a simple game, the Famicom version removes things. To be more exact, the "Bonus Docking" prior to the space stage was removed, resulting in a toned-down game.
Graphically, it looks dull even for NES standards, with quite dirty color palletes on the the scenery and some of the enemies. The sound on the other side is quite accurate to the arcade, Jaleco made a small improvement by adding a title screen tune to the console version. Honestly, if the game was ported to the Master System we would had an even more arcade-accurate game than the Famicom version due to the SMS use of brighter colors.

- The name "Aeroboto" sounds like the katakana pronounciation of "Aerobot".
- The colors of the Aeroboto/Ixpel in the arcade title screen are reminiscent of the RX-78 Gundam from Mobile Suit Gundam while the original Formation Z artwork depicts the Ixpel with a colorscheme similar to the Legioss Armo-Fighter AFC-01H from Genesis Climber Mospeada (VF-6 Veritech Alpha Fighter in Robotech).
- The space boss looks like the Big Core from the Gradius series.
- The Famicom version of Formation Z is what we can call "bootleg fodder" as its frequently seen in the lists of pirated Famiclone "XXXXXXXX-in-1" multicarts, along with Contra, 1942, Choujiku Yousai Macross and Super Mario Bros.
- Formation Z was also ported on the MSX by Dexter Soft.

Overall, Aeroboto/Formation Z is a boring shooter where the premise of transformation doesn't help just like in Choujiku Yousai Macross (which i'll make a review one of these days), it just hangs to a popular trend/fad regardless of the overall quality.

Roll out, everyone. There's nothing else to see here.
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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