Copper alloy madness

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Remembering the days of fist-on-fist combat is much too difficult. The past has been erased by a more techno-enhanced fighting genre, with games incorporating various modes of gameplay and thousands of complicated combos, eliminating the days of basic street brawls forever.

Enter Tech Romancer, a metallic-clad Dreamcast fighter inspired directly by the futuristic Japanese animes Robotech and Neon Genesis Evangelion. Here, heavy robot armor is substituted for the fragile human body, allowing the player to inflict plenty of high-tech damage without regard for an opponent’s sensitive skin. Appropriately, rounds of gameplay last much longer due to the heavy doses of protection soldered onto these mechanoids.

To add to the attraction, the Capcom team supplies an astounding 3-D environment for contention purposes, complete with destructible landscaping such as apartment buildings and city monuments. Playing Romancer enough will even lead to hidden power-ups and these additives: upgradable weapons, enhancements for agility and even repairable shielding. Continue exercising your melee-hungry urges until the very end for even more bonuses, such as the original Tech Romancer short film anime, along with minigames that can be downloaded to the Dreamcast VMU (the portable memory unit that attaches to the system’s controller).

Most important of all are the party capabilities of Romancer. Two players can skirmish for hours, choosing from 10 unique robot shells. Then, if friendly competition becomes a burden, three other modes should supply enough variety for at least a few months of durability. "Story Mode" relives each mech’s fight-to-the-end plot line; in "Hero Challenge Mode," you can battle through 12 rival robots without intrusive cinematics; and finally, working out in "Dr. Tatsumi’s Techno-Dome" will enable hidden features to be unlocked.

Indulging in Tech Romancer is probably the best course of action when seeking diversified fighting entertainment – and a much better choice than the plethora of nukeworthy games plaguing store shelves. So engaging in this iron-plated romp is still a better idea than playing matador with rush-hour traffic.

Jon M. Gibson writes about video games for the Metro Times. E-mail letters@metrotimes.com.

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