Black Rock Shooter has been very popular in its home country, and as with most popular anime over there, has also found its footing in the Western market with the anime getting an English release, and most of the manga and the movie already being read by more Western people than Japanese. It seems a little late to release the 2011 PSP game based on the same series in 2013, but it has been released to be compatible with the Vita, so if you don’t mind the PSP’s graphics then you can now play the game of your favourite anime from 2011 on your Vita.
The story in Black Rock is set in the not too distant future of 2050, where a war with aliens has caused the human populous to drop down to only a few dozen. With no end in sight a super weapon was designed and built from a teenage girl, waking up at the last moment to save the day and give you someone to play as. Design choices aside, if you are someone who is unfamiliar with Eastern game/anime design females in particular, don’t play this game, or any Eastern game, because you will more than likely get offended by the clearly under-age female wearing what seems to be a 2 piece bikini and jacket, that or scream how sexist the way females are portrayed, so it’s easier for you if you turn away now and stop playing games you find offensive. Your main weapon is an overly large cannon of sorts that can rip apart the aliens much easier than conventional weaponry. Of course it follows the story-line of the anime well, though for fans who were hoping for a game that represented the over the top battles, this game may come as a bit of a disappointment.
Gameplay wise there is nothing wrong, this game is essentially an RPG with a bit of a different battle mechanic. You have a map, and you need to get from point A to B, at the end there is a boss, and between you and it are different enemies waiting for you to fight. You walk into one and you start your fight. This is where things start to change, the game turns into a 3rd person shooter, but you’re stuck in place, only able to move if you dodge left and right, as the enemies slowly advance towards you, or if they are ranged units, they will fire at you every so often. It seems like they are taking turns, but this just lets you gun them down and dodge fairly easily, with different bosses having different moves you need to dodge. Firing and dodging builds up your head meter, the higher it is, your weapon will fire in shorter bursts, once you overheat, you can no longer dodge or fire until you have cooled down. It gives a slight twist on the usual RPG battles systems found today. Finishing a battle will earn you XP to level up and random assortment of items, usual healing items, levelling up awards you with higher stats, and higher health. In this game you need to earn your skills in a different way, usually by destroying a set number of a certain enemy, again giving a different take on the RPG genre, it works, with more powerful skills being unlocked only when destroying a few of the more rarer types in the game, your basic skills such as dodge and charge shot will be handed to you, but to get the rest you will need to search a little.
Graphically, the game is very pretty when you compare it to other PSP titles. Of course with the Vita coming out just over a year ago, playing it on the larger 5” screen really hits the games aesthetic where it hurts, with jaggy models all over the place and the Vitas Bilinear filter option barely doing much to help this. Of course if you still have your old PSP or even PSP GO, the game looks much better, especially on the GO, due to its slightly smaller screen, which just helps the overall effect and removes most of those horrible jagged edges.
Even though this game was released in 2011, it doesn’t stop the game being fun. Even on my Vita, you don’t notice the jaggies after a bit, and you can enjoy the game, though the only problem on the Vita is that the analogue sticks are extremely sensitive, annoyingly so at times. If you’re a fan of the show, the game is cheap on the PSN store and will not hurt your wallet with expensive Vita memory cards either at around 1gb. But if you’re an owner of an original PSP or the GO the game will be a better fit than on the Vita system.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.