Front Mission Series: Gun Hazard
|Front Mission Series: Gun Hazard|
Front Mission Series: Gun Hazard (フロントミッションシリーズ ガンハザード?) is a side-scrolling role-playing shooter video game developed by Omiya Soft and published by Squaresoft, and was released in Japan on February 23, 1996 for the Super Famicom game console. Gun Hazard is the first spin-off entry and the second entry overall in the Front Mission series. Unlike all other Front Mission titles, Gun Hazard takes place in a completely separate universe. Gun Hazard was also released on the Japanese Wii's Virtual Console service on May 20, 2008. A fan-made English translation patch for Gun Hazard was released on August 13, 2004 by the group "Aeon Genesis".
As a side-scrolling shooter spin-off, the gameplay of Gun Hazard differs from the tactical role-playing game entries of the numbered Front Mission titles. Rather than being played out on a grid-based map and using a turn-based structure, battles takes place in real-time on scrolling 2D maps akin to Assault Suits Valken. The player controls one character who pilots a mech known as the wanderpanzer, or wanzer. A second, AI-controlled ally unit can be chosen to provide support to the player during missions. The player can control their ally's actions, such as ordering them to retreat or use their special weapons. This ally unit can also be controlled by a second player through the use of a secret in-game cheat.
Game progression in Gun Hazard is done in linear manner: watch cut-scene events, complete missions, set up wanzers and vehicles during intermissions, and sortie for the next mission. The player travels to locations on a point-and-click world map. Upon choosing a location on the world map, a map of the location is brought up. In these locations, the player can travel to various areas to complete missions and progress the plot. Upon completing all mandatory story-related missions, new locations are revealed on the world map. Unlike other Front Mission titles, the player can revisit these locations and redo its missions at any given time.
In Gun Hazard, the player has two ways to play the game: inside the wanzer or on foot as the pilot. Wanzers can do the following actions in mission play: walk, jump, fly, dash, use shields, and use weapons. A wanzer uses one of four, unique primary weapons for combat - vulcan guns, shotguns, laser rifles, and napalm guns. They can be also outfitted with secondary, special weapons that have their own unique properties and uses. On foot, the pilot can do the following actions: walk, jump, dash, crouch, climb, use jet pack (to fly) and use weapons. The pilot only has two means of attacking - handguns and hand grenades. While playing as a pilot is not required to beat the game, there are missions that can only be cleared by getting out of the wanzer. Upon completing missions, players receive monetary rewards that can be used to purchase new parts and weapons to be used in combat.
A unique feature of Gun Hazard is its usage-based progression system. The usefulness of parts and weapons increases with prolonged usage; the more they are used in missions, the more effective they become. For example, constant usage of a vulcan gun results in increased damage output and reduced reload times. Using a vernier unit to fly can boost its flight duration time and increase the maximum altitude it can reach. Similarly, absorbing damage while inside a wanzer increases its ability to defend against enemy attacks. This progression system also affects the effectiveness of the pilot's weapons as well; for example, the pilot can throw up to two hand grenades at once if they have used it enough times.
Missions aside, Gun Hazard boasts other new features seen in future Front Mission entries: a job system and remodeling. The job system creates clearly defined roles for the characters that the player can use in missions, particularly the ones that can be taken in missions as a second ally unit. Brenda Lockheart provides aerial bombardment as a sniper-type unit, whereas Emil Szynsky's repairman wanzer acts as a mechanic-type unit. Each character has a specific purpose on the battlefield, and the game encourages the player to make the most out of them to complete missions. Remodeling is a feature that allows the player to upgrade their parts. For example, a shotgun can be outfitted with a larger barrel to fire more rounds or a bigger storage clip to hold more ammunition.
Set in 2064, the story of Gun Hazard takes place all over the world in an alternate Front Mission universe. In the early 21st century, nations around the world fought over the control of natural resources. With natural resources dwindling in supply, the nations of the world eventually banded together to seek a solution to the growing crisis. Realizing the potential in space-based energy, they began development of an orbital elevator known as "Atlas" in 2024. As the orbital elevator's completion drew near, a breakthrough was achieved in miniature fusion reactors. The countries responsible for Atlas began to halt development of the orbital elevator and pursued miniature fusion reactor technology. Left unfinished, Atlas became a symbol of failed dreams and hopes as the world regressed back into a world of conflicts. One such conflict is the Bergen coup d'état in 2064.
The plot of Gun Hazard revolves around a Bergen Army soldier named Albert Grabner. In January 2064, Ark Hellbrand of the Bergen Army stages a coup d'état in an attempt to overthrow the government led by President Moss Orwen. As the coup d'état forces begin to take over the country, President Orwen radios for assistance from NORAD and a faction of the Bergen Army loyal to him. Albert Grabner is sent to act as the president's bodyguard and helps him escape the country. However, the two are eventually captured by Hellbrand. Albert escapes from prison with the help of Brenda Lockheart, a mercenary employed by the Kernelight Association. Upon escaping Bergen and reaching New York City, they visit the Kernelight Association headquarters. Hoping to return to Bergen and rescue Orwen, Albert agrees to working for the Kernelight Association to find allies that can help him overthrow Ark. As the two work for the mercenary guild and travel to war-torn countries around the world, Albert begins to see a link between the civil conflicts, the Bergen coup d'état, and an organization only known as "The Society".
The games soundtrack was composed by Nobuo Uematsu and Yasunori Mitsuda, with additional tracks provided by Junya Nakano and Masashi Hamauzu. The soundtrack was the second collaboration between Nobuo Uematsu and Yasunori Mitsuda, after Chrono Trigger the previous year. According to Uematsu, Mitsuda worked so much on the soundtrack that he eventually had to be hospitalized. The soundtrack has a "mechanical" theme to its music, and incorporates both electronic and traditional instruments. The music from the game was released on an album titled Front Mission Series: Gun Hazard Original Sound Track. It was released by NTT Publishing on February 25, 1996. Kero Hazel of Square Enix Music Online called the soundtrack album "a thumping example of fine industrial music" and complimented its use of other musical styles to influence that core style. Patrick Gann of RPGFan also praised the album as "downright awesome" and highly recommended it.
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