|Genre(s)||Light gun shooter|
Elemental Gearbolt, full title Genseikyokō Seireikidōdan Elemental Gearbolt (幻世虚構 精霊機導弾 ELEMENTAL GEARBOLT?), is a light gun shooter for the Sony PlayStation. Originally developed by Alfa System, the game was published by Sony Computer Entertainment and released in Japan in 1997. Working Designs licensed the game for the North American market and released it in 1998.
Elemental Gearbolt was critically well received due to its science fantasy setting, which is uncommon in light gun shooters, along with its incorporation of RPG elements, and particularly the artistry of its presentation. It features an orchestral soundtrack, and animated cutscenes directed by the anime director Rintaro.
The events of the game are framed through the character of Tagami (a secret character in Shikigami no Shiro, another title developed by Alfa System), a mysterious figure who travels to the world in which the game is set long after the main events conclude in order to investigate what caused the world's destruction. Tagami relives the tragedy of the Elemental Gearbolt incident.
Before the Elemental Gearbolt incident, the world was home to two races, Audo and Sulunkan. The Sulunkan, descendants of a fallen magical empire, were oppressed by the Audo. There are secret resistance groups, but none strong enough to challenge the powerful Audo ruling class. Destiny is set in motion when Nell and Seana, the Sugiku (half breed) daughters of a resistance leader, meet Bel Cain, the Sugiku son of the selfish King Jabugal. Nell and Bel Cain promise to meet again, but other circumstances interfere.
Years later, Bel Cain becomes crown prince, full of ambition to end the bitter class struggle. Armed with advanced technology, he starts a campaign of conquest. Meanwhile, Nell and Seana join the Sulunkan resistance, only to be killed. Their bodies are taken back to the capital city as trophies. At the same time, one of Bel Cain's technologies, a Neural Network Computer comprising human brains, malfunctions and initiates a self-destruct sequence. It links powerful weapons known as Holy Guns to Nell and Seana's corpses, re-animating them as Elementals. They have only one purpose - seek and destroy the Network. Bel Cain stands in the Elementals' path, unaware of the actions of the Network; never anticipating his impending reunion and inevitable battle with Nell and Seana.
As is the norm with rail shooters, the action in Elemental Gearbolt takes place from a first-person perspective, and the pace of the game and rate of enemy occurrence is completely preset. The player is only required to aim and shoot with the light gun. Most light gun games require the player to reload as ammunition is expended, but Elemental Gearbolt does not, since both the player characters and their weapons are magical. Instead, the game limits the speed at which the player can fire, increasing the need for accuracy. The player can switch freely between three types of attacks - Blaze Phoenix, a basic, high powered shot; Thunder Tiger, a spread shot; and Water Snake, a rapid shot.
At the conclusion of each stage the player has the opportunity to "Trade Off", in which the player selects certain percentages of the score for the stage to allocate towards bonus points or experience. As in an RPG, the player characters gain levels by accruing experience, and thus grow more powerful and are better able to take damage. Score determines rank, and in the year following the game's North American release it was used to participate in contests sponsored by Working Designs.
The official soundtrack features a 24½-minute drama track in Japanese and 19 original score cues performed by a full orchestra. It was released by First Smile Entertainment on January 21, 1998 in Japan. Its catalogue ID is FSCA-10030 and the original price in Japan was 2,548¥. Kei Wakakusa composed and arranged the score.
Some winners of Working Designs' contests for Elemental Gearbolt received 'Assassin Case' prizes that contained gold-plated GunCon light guns. These Assassin Cases are among the most rare and prized collectibles from the PlayStation era.
- "Elemental Gearbolt - PlayStation Review At IGN". Uk.psx.ign.com. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
- Fielder, Joe (1998-06-30). "Elemental Gearbolt Review for PlayStation". GameSpot. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
- "Elemental Gearbolt (psx) reviews at Metacritic.com". Meticritic.com. 1998-08-10. Retrieved 2011-10-31.