The review of Front Mission 1st: Remake tells us about the return of a classic series, modernized with many mechs, but with very little courage.
Before we dive into the review of Front Mission 1st: Remake for Nintendo Switchlet’s spend a few words on the Japanese enthusiasts who, in 1995, were lucky enough to buy a copy of the original for their Super Nintendo.
Imagine them in the middle of winter, the game came out in February, closed in their splendid houses by Doraemon’s Nobita, in front of such a game. Well, don’t you feel envy? If you don’t hear anything, it means that you know very little about Front Mission, maybe you are stuck at the recent Front Mission Left Alife of 2019, when the developer Llinx had the audacity to transform a strategic with flakes into the most foul-mouthed action game, moreover with disastrous results. You are justified, fear not, because the series has always been poorly managed and distributed outside of Japan without ever sufficient conviction. But trust us if we tell you that a game like the first Front Mission in those years must have been a real bomb, one of those cartridges that makes your eyes roll in disbelief.
A suffered love
After all, the description dangerously resembles what we experienced, this time in August 2000 and on a PlayStation, when we loaded Front Mission 3 for the first time, the chapter that introduced the series to European gamers. But true love struck on PlayStation 2 and Front Mission 4, even if we were forced to go looking for it in the United States because it was never officially distributed in our parts. Thinking about it, it was really a struggle to try to follow this series, a bit like what happened with Sega’s Yakuza before they really started believing in it. This led to a rapid fall in love on the part of the public towards Front Mission, the same syndrome that seems to have affected Square Enix itself a few years later, which began to mistreat the series as never before.
Yet a turn-based strategy game with giant Japanese-style mechs seems like a perfect union, to say the least, and damn it if it is! Fortunately, the genre is experiencing a dizzying renaissance, both on PC and sensationally on Nintendo Switch, and this has prompted the Japanese giant to give Front Mission a new chance, this time starting all over again from the beginning with the remakes of the first and of the second game originally released on the SNES. We don’t have a release date for the second yet, while the first has been in our hands for a few days already.
The work was entrusted to the Poles of Forever Entertainment, a group that has already worked with Square Enix on Fear Effect Sedna and a myriad of smaller games. If you are thinking that relying on a software house without a great pedigree was a mistake, you will have to think again. This tried-and-true working group really seems to have given its all, and sensationally without even a lot of support in terms of budget. There new design that covers the 1995 game is surprisingly good, detailed, and with a color palette very close to the original one, therefore also respectful of the look that has always distinguished Front Mission.
Even the music have been renewed, trying never to distort too much the excellent pieces of the illustrious progenitor. Here, Front Mission 1st has this problem not only in the soundtrack: it is certainly a remake, at least from an audiovisual point of view, but either because it was not given permission or because Forever Entertainment was afraid of distorting the original too much, it ends for not doing enough. It is a remake that would not like to be, or that perhaps would like to be completely, and that in this chosen middle ground is not entirely at ease.
Gameplay and level design are mostly those of 1995 and as you can guess it’s ok up to a certain point. Luckily the original game was ahead of its time, as a result it already possessed many features you wouldn’t expect from a SNES game such as deep mech customization, and five energy bars dedicated to different robot parts. Information that, however, does not lead to greater strategic depth: by weakening the legs of a mech it will move more slowly, but we will not be able to aim at it voluntarily, just hope it happens at the right time. But Front Mission was also famous for its difficultyand this aspect does not seem to have been retouched as it would have been appropriate to do, because that of such an old game can be really unnerving, unfair.
And in Front Mission 1st, after the first missions things tend to go in this direction. Fortunately, the game offers many levels of difficulty, including one specifically designed to enjoy the story that remains fascinating despite its development, after about 25 years, different ingenuities emerge and a feeling of already seen that partially dampens its charm. However, the greatness of the original project continues to emerge strongly through always remarkable settings, battles in the arenas and characters capable of always leaving their mark.
Tested version Nintendo Switch
Front Mission 1st is a remake that renews the ’95 game mainly from a graphic point of view. For the moment it may be enough, provided that you are not afraid to face unnerving peaks of difficulty present in the original as well, and that you know how to close your eyes in front of a gameplay superficiality not designed to help players, like the modern one, but to get around the limits imposed by the time. Of course it would be nice if after this appetizer Square Enix got to work on a real sequel, all graphics and strategy…
- Really very good new graphics
- There are always few such strategic ones
- Class plot and good twists
- The gameplay remained pretty much the same as it was in 1995
- Unjustified difficulty spikes
- Couldn’t we have done more?
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