Ghost in the Shell
It might not be on the cutting edge anymore, but the dark action-packed Ghost In The Shell movie is still regarded as a classic in the field of anime. Being so successful and coming from Japan, it’s a wonder that there hasn’t been a videogame version before now, but here it is, officially licenced and with the blessings of the movie’s team.
However, the game doesn’t follow the original story all that closely. The film is about a virtual life form created to endlessly police the Internet of 2029 which becomes self aware and demands a physical body. The game is about controlling a little six-legged combat tank against a terrorist organisation that is causing a lot of trouble around the Tokyo Bay Area. Not an obvious connection really, but there are enough familiar elements mentioned in the cut scenes or mission briefings to keep the anime’s fans happy.
Using a motion scanner, you have to scuttle freely around 12 stages with the aim of destroying the terrorists’ latest despicable plans and ultimately making it to the leader. Large, spidery droids have been posted all over each location to slow you down, as have helicopters and many humanoid robots with powerful machine guns, but luckily your tank is extremely agile. You can jump to Six-Million-Dollar- Man-heights without any difficulty, walk on sheer vertical walls or even ceilings, and tucked away in the two front legs are double rapid-fire guns which make an excellent noise as their stream of bullets rain across the sheet metal body of your brainless enemies. You also get a couple of handy pulse grenades and infinite tracking missiles that activate – R-Type-style – by holding and releasing the fire button at the right time.
The tremendous feeling of agility you get from Ghost In The Shell and the slick weapons is where the fun comes from. But it’s a tough game and playing for more scenes of new footage will not be compelling enough for a country in which anime is a cult industry and not a national fixation. With graphics that haven’t moved on since the same team coded Jumping Flash, GITS (an unfortunate acronym) must be recommended to manga maniacs only.