Do You Remember Minmei? No? I Envy You

Macross: Scramble(d) Valkyrie

     Much has been made of the zaniness of this game. It walks a line between Zero Wing ("Someone set up us the bomb!") and that one crappy NES game where the WINNER IS STRONG BADS. Let's just get one thing straight. This game rocks. Despite anything I say from here on out, the game is freaking awesome. The sound, explosions, transforming three-pixel Valkyrie... This is actually more visually interesting than some off episodes of Robotech. However, it does lack the cuteness and 30-weapon toting sweetness of The Guardian Legend.

     The epic story takes you through a disjointed version of the TV series, which gives it an authentic feel while disorienting you entirely. You sit back and note the three variants of Female Power Armor (Queadlunn-Rau, I think... I haven't touched those Palladium books in ages) rendered in breathtaking detail, and they even have the right weapons (instead of the usual random bullet out of the head, chest or groin most shooters opt for,) then also note that not once in Macross history has Max Jenius dueled with a gigantic sand flea in the rings of Saturn.

     And, now, onto the real joy: The typos. It's always a treat when Japanese programmers turn the project over to their second graders while they swing out for some sake, karaoke and natto. So, the great opening sequence informs us that "IT'S THE SONG AND THE WAR" but "THE STORY IS NOT YET FINISHED." Oh no! I thought for sure the Earth was saved!!

(brief anime history note: In a late episode of Macross [or an early episode of Robotech], a fleet of Zentran/ Meltran [Yeah... Zentraedi] battleships surrounded the planet and bombarded it with their Fission cannons until everything on the surface was toast. Afterwards, we blew them up. Way to save the world, guys.)


     ...yeah? The what?


     Yes.... that's right. They got the title itself wrong. Oh well. Scrambled is what we got, so Scrambled is what we work with. Stop by the CONFIGLATION menu to set your speakers to stereo; they don't default that way.

     You get the choice of Hikaru (Rick), Max (Max, twit), and Millia (Miriya), although why you'd pick anyone other than Max is beyond me. His Soldier/Battroid mode weapon is a homing gun that, powered up unleashes insane flashing deathballs all over the place. His gerwalk form weapon is a weird chain of fireballs that I used more for defense than offense, and the fighter gun is just a basic forward shot. Hikaru boasts the same forward guns, hard-to-aim air mines and ICBM sized missiles that come from nowhere and are in infinite supply. Miriya, however, you'd have to be a Meltran ace to play as because all her weapon are forward-facing guns of various types.

     The first level gives you a taste of the sort of madness to expect over the next six levels. You're zooming along, then a Zentran ship defolds and explodes almost instantly, having performed an illegal hyperspace operation. Generic R-Type drones fly at you for a while, then the genuine enemies appear, shoot at you, then die. At the level's end you fight some kind of armed geode.

     The sad thing is, to the very end, only one boss was an actual enemy from the series. The rest were the tyical grossout R-type creatures shootemup fans know and love. Wait, one was a robot. One always is. The final challenge comes from an upside down Hitler-baby in a glass ball, which turns into a naked lizard man when you blast it. This is clearly a message, because this final final boss fights like a DBZ character. Huh? You're playing as a heavily-armed Super Valkyrie, against a floating dragon throwing ki blasts.

     Ah, anyway. You beat it more easily than any boss since level one, and the ending movie plays. It's so beautifully tragic it chokes me up just thinking about it.




     *snif... Beautiful. The Naked Lizard Man died for your sins, people! Stand up! Let the Lizard flow through you! PUH-RAAAIZE THE LIAZRD!


     At this point I sit down and scratch my head, wondering if the ROM skipped or something. Then I remember what game I'm playing. Should have expected a random ejaculation of that kind.

     So, the credits roll as your ship floats in one place not making any effort to move towards the Macross, and we're left with a newfound sense of being and the knowledge that this game was produced by...


     Oh yeah, and between levels, the words "We sot a new machine, for the fighting. Now the time to scramble Valkyrie again" are displayed, along with a random Macrossy image regardless of where in the storyline you are. (ROY FOCKER?! You were dead)

Macross Arcade

Macross the arcade version differs from most of the Macross-inspired shooters in that it's top-down. It's been a while since I played it, but I'm pretty sure it had you collect items in order to transform.

The arcade game was a little less off-the-wall than the SNES side-scroller. The graphics are nice, and it definitely has a Macrossy feel about it. Of course, Kirby's Dream Land almost had more to do with Macross than certain segments of the feature here...

As with M:SV, the stages loosely follow the condensed story as seen in Do You Remember Love?, a cinematic release that was made a year or so after the TV series ended in an attempt to crush however-many episodes of character development and action into a less-than two hour space. Strangely, DYRL is usually considered to be the 'official' telling of the events in canon with the rest of the Macross saga.

It's also worth noting that instead of text, the cutscenes were given voiceovers. (This feature apparently has yet to be emulated in MAME, for the record.)

Macross II: The Legend and the Arcade Game

One of the underlying themes of the Macross II OAV series was the complacency and showmanship the military had grown into as a result of unopposed technological superiority. I think that about justifies the bizarre gaming mechanic the programmers of Macross II stuck in this game in the form of having to score some ridiculous amount of points to advance to the next stage.

Basically, this is a side-scrolling version of the prior arcade game- you need items to transform, bombs are extremely precious, only this time you are given infinite lives and an enemy in the form of the clock. You can actually complete a level without reaching the boss, let alone defeating it! You just shoot, shoot, shoot until your score ticker says you're alright. This is fairly easy to do in the first stage of each of the three paths (Beginner, Intermediate, Expert) but becomes exponentially rougher with each level. I have never completed a whole path, thanks to a battle with a cruiser in Path 1 that seriously lasts longer than your time allotted.

One of the more amusingly stupid bits of the game and show was the Culture Park. It's a UN sanctioned preserve for national monuments. I'm serious, this is like a ten-mile park with segments of the Great Wall of China in it, the Colosseum of Rome, I think they even had a duplicate Lourve there. Of course looking back on it, it was probably just a cheap set-piece for the invasion scenes, but it really takes away from the impact of seeing aliens marching on national monuments when you realize they've only landed in Yosemite... In the game, in order to meet the required score in level 2, however, you HAVE to destroy a number of roman pillars, not to mention the exploding Great Wall in the first stage.

I had a soft spot for the generally unpopular Macross II at one point; I played the Palladium Robotech role-playing game, liked the mechanical designs of the newer Valkyries (this being long before I saw Plus) and well... Macross II: The Movie was the first anime tape I ever bought.