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  • Results from Game Design Challenge: The Pen is Mightier than the Fist

    - Danny Cowan

  • Joshua Hallaran, Game Designer at Critical Games, Mega Mech Fighter

    My concept for a one-on-one fighter that eschews traditional mechanics has players take control, not of a human combatant, but as the pilot of a giant robot or ‘mech'.

    Mega Mech Fighter is a game designed for dual-screen platforms - such as the 3DS or Wii U. On the top screen/TV, giant robots battle it out in hand-to-hand brawls, like your average fighting game. However, the bottom screen/gamepad is transformed into a control terminal - displaying the robot's schematic and diagnostic readouts. The game is played exclusively via touch.

    Rather than directly controlling the robot's actions, the player is in charge of directing energy to different areas of the mech's body. In the top right-hand corner of this display, there is a battery icon. This contains the robot's energy reserves and is broken into five pieces - each worth 20%. The player must use the stylus to drag energy to different parts of the robot's anatomy, powering it up.

    Now, battles consist of two rapidly changing phases - an Attack Phase, and a Defence Phase. In the Defence Phase, energy will allow your robot to block attacks. Attacks can come from three different angles (High, Medium, and Low), so which body parts are energised (and the amount of energy they've been given) determines how much, or how little, damage the robot takes. If the enemy's attack is utilising a higher amount of energy than the player's defence, they must either take the hit or scramble to siphon energy as quickly as possible. The relatively slow, weight-y pace of the robots' movements allows players a chance to predict and react to their opponents' actions.

    In the Attack Phase, distributing energy to different body parts determines how you'll attack. For example, if you provide energy to the Right Arm, the Robot will perform a Medium Attack. If you then quickly siphon energy to the Left Arm, it will attempt to unleash another attack - resulting in a combo. However, when a Phase Change takes place, all energy is returned to the reserve.

    Each Phase is governed by a strict time limit, but a Change can also be triggered by an Overcharge. An Overcharge occurs when a robot channels 100% of its energy into one body part, and this body part successfully defends against an attack. The overcharging robot staggers its assailant, resulting in a Phase Change.

    Players also have access to Super and Ultimate moves. Like most fighting games, a gauge fills up as the player deals and receives damage. A Super move can be activated with half the gauge, while an Ultimate requires the full gauge. These abilities can be used at any time to interrupt the current turn and force a Phase Change, in addition to inflicting damage. But they can also be interrupted.

    Mega Mech Fighter is an unusual take on fighting games, focused on resource management and a unique control method. However, the frantic gameplay (manipulating energy) and on-the-fly strategic decisions maintain the essence of what makes the genre so special.


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