One of the more cool and neat games to come out more recently in the Japanese arcade scene is Starwing Paradox from Square Enix. As with many of Squares arcade titles, it’s big and flashy. And does take up a lot of space in an area where space is often at a premium.
In Akihabara for example, one of the, if not the game center capital of the world, Starwing could be found in only a few locations. The only Sega location with it is Sega Gigo located on the south end of Akihabara, the area which used to be reserved for Gundam: Senjou no Kizuna has been replaced by a heck of a lot of Starwing Paradox, outside of Gigo, Tokyo Leisurland over by Kentucky Fried Chicken also carries a few machines. The cost model is different as well, the first play is 200 yen, the first continue is also 200 yen, but the third continue drops down to 100 yen. After that the game is over and you can either start again, or swap out if it is busy.
As mentioned, the game is crisp, colorful and a lot of fun. The character displayed on the main screen is fully animated and voiced and there are several to choose from. The one pictured above was celebrating her “Birthday” and there were special bonuses related.
But onto the game itself, Starwing does have a relatively sharp learning curve due to the control mechanics and mech customization parts you can unlock. The controls themselves consist of a left and right joystick, as well as a pair of footpedals. The joysticks each have two buttons as well as a scroll wheel type implement on the right joystick. Not to mention the aside from the gigantic main screen of Starwing, there also exists a sub monitor with touch controls.
The gameplay objectives are fairly straightforward at least and is easy to understand even with no knowledge of Japanese. Each map will have several control points, as well as each team will have their base. When one team controls a set amount of the points, typically half+1, then the base becomes vulnerable to attack. The first team to wipe out the enemy bases health wins. Or if it is a timeout, then it goes to the team with the most health remaining.
All in all the game is a blast to play and learn. It’s popularity seemed to be kind of low however, possibly due to the learning curve itself. Each arcade was handing out flyers with free play coupons as well, so they are really trying to push it. The production values are outstanding and the force feedback and the motion from the cockpit itself is a nice touch. I do hope Starwing hasn’t fizzed out by the time I return to Akihabara, because I do want to play it again. As for prospects on it coming to the US, via RD1. I would say its low to improbable and I don’t think I would want it to come either, knowing how well RD1USA upkeep’s their machines, I fear what would happen to a game with as much motion involved as this one.