IGPX: Immortal Grand Prix
Immortal Grand Prix seemed like a game I’d enjoy. I’ve never seen or heard of the anime, but I could definitely see myself getting familiar with teams of robots beating the hell out of each other. The idea of these robots fighting while also doing a little bit of racing is also quite appealing. Ditto for the squad-based tactics. What wasn’t appealing about IGPX is how boring and repetitive the game becomes since there’s just so little to do after only a few races.
IGPX is a racing game, but for the majority of the “race” your position doesn’t matter whatsoever. This time is spent beating up opponents with your team of three robots. There’s a forward, a midfielder, and a defender that can all be switched to on the fly and a few moves, from fancy grapples to simple punches, to utilize. However, just using these few moves will get your racing team nowhere. Teamwork is what really matters. To do the most damage, moves that require other teammates are necessary. Grabbing an enemy robot and setting him up for another hit is a good way to deal some pain. Another interesting move is grabbing your own teammate and launching him into the opposing team.
Teamwork also comes into play when deciding which strategies to use. Hitting the d-pad activates one out of four orders, including avoiding the enemy or beating up the weakest opponent. The teamwork is welcome considering most of the combat devolves into button-mashing. Not that this really matters because the poor camera angles usually turn all the matches into X pounding contests. Thank god these dramatic angles can be turned off, but that still doesn’t stop the combat from quickly growing boring. As interesting as the team tactics are, it’s still usually just effective to mash until the end of the race. While some of the opposing teams are a little different, it’s hard not to get bored by the constant brawling.
After a few laps of fighting, whatever robots have survived begin to race in the brief final stretch. The positions are finally displayed, and tapping the square button activates a huge boost in speed depending on how much health is left. Since the racing is so brief it feels anticlimactic to all the fighting that led up to it. While the races always end up being close, the whole system just feels broken despite its originality. Another problem is just how bland the courses are. Obstacles are few and far between, so there’s hardly any incentive to bother steering unless it’s to engage other robots. This sometimes makes the final stretch more about luck than talent.
Race after race of all this tends to get boring and the main mode does nothing to remedy this. There’s no story, so there’s little to do aside from completing dozens of races. You can upgrade your robots and unlock new things for the two-player mode, but that’s hardly a reason to play through the repetitive races. Aside from the main mode, there’s only the two-player mode, and that’s a joke. I would have loved to see some co-op considering the team-oriented style of the game, but all we get here is standard versus. The worst part of this is that there is no split-screen here. Instead, the camera stays fixed in one limited position and doesn’t change. This means there are times when absolutely no characters can be seen on screen. Even more broken is the final stretch where nobody has any idea what is going on. A simple split-screen would have fixed all of these problems.
Of course, fans can probably look over all these problems and have a grand ol’ time with their favorite anime in videogame format. I’m not able to do that. I see a repetitive game without enough options to justify even a rental, let alone a pricey purchase. Robots deserve much better treatment than this game provides, particularly those rare racing robots.