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   PlanetDreamcast | Features | Previews | Mars Matrix

Mars Matrix
Mosquitoes wish they were this powerful. - by Mr. Domino

Mars Matrix Logo

It was a dark and stormy night. So, I stayed home.

The next night I went to the local arcade ("local" being about half an hour away from me) to entertain my mind away from thoughts of the meaningless of life. It was there at the arcade that I first saw it -- Mars Matrix, the new shooter of the season. At first I was mad that the arcade operator got rid of the Viper Phase II machine I'd been sinking money into to make room for Mars Matrix. Then I played the game and quickly tossed aside all my plans to inflict bodily harm on the management.

Mars Matrix is from Takumi, the company behind the mediocre Giga Wing. Mars Matrix is in no way a sequel to Giga Wing -- that honor belongs to Giga Wing 2. If you're at all familiar Giga Wing, then you know that the game is of the Do Don Pachi school of flooding the screen with an incalculable number of fast bullets and letting God sort it out. When God fails, the ever present bomb is available.

A pea in every pod and a rolling death tank in every shooter.

It's hard to fear a ship that fires pink bullets.

The bomb is one of the more original aspects of Giga Wing which is carried over into Mars Matrix is the reflect shot. The ships in Mars Matrix have a "Mosquito" technique which allows them to suck in enemy bullets and spew them back at the enemies. When the screen becomes too cluttered and death seems but a second away, you can use the technique to save your ships butt, or, more importantly, the buttocks of the pilot. After all, he is a living being, so I'd hope.

Of course, it's not that easy, because this miracle cure does require charging. Charging up the special meter simply requires you to boost your score by attacking enemies, which you can and will do if you ever plan on seeing anything past stage two. While tying special meters to weapons in shooters isn't anything new (Gunbird 2 had it as well), it's always a welcomed addition thanks to the strategy it requires to employ well. By tying in the screen obliterating bomb into the meter, the game should be able to avoid death traps of having the player simply bomb his or her way through the game just to get by difficult sections.

Notice how the ship does not take damage from what appears to be contact with other ships.

Racking up experience points goes towards your score and opening locked goodies.

Mars Matrix promises to be among the most challenging shooters around, and the never ending waves of bullets would certainly help the game in that regard. Thankfully the Dreamcast is more than capable of handling the workload. While the artwork appears to be a bit on the dull side, the blend of 3-D polygons over the 2-D game engine makes for a stylish contrast for a shooter of this kind. The game moves so fast you'll probably yearn for the days of slowdown just for the added assistance during those hectic bullet swarms.

Capcom is also adding a variety of extra stuff to further extend the life of the game. Some really neat additions -- including a perfect playthrough of individual stages -- can be purchased with points accumlated from playing the game. It's nice to see Capcom taking steps to making sure the game stays in the Dreamcast well after its been beaten, and hopefully this trend will continue if and when we get Giga Wing 2.

Mars Matrix is a pure arcade shooter with some interesting gameplay ideas and experience based system. It strives to be more than just a simple "blast everything that moves" shooter such as Raiden, and it looks as though both Takumi and Capcom are on the verge of giving shooter fans just that. Look for the game and a full review later this month.

Next: More screenshots!

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