Chris De Herrera's Windows CE Website

About
Discuss.Pocket PC FAQ Forum

Add Pocket PC FAQ to your Favorites
RSS    RSS Feeds
Wiki    Lost?
Custom Search
Subscribe    Print
Miscellaneous
Table of Contents
Mobile Format
News

PDA Gold


 

Pocket PC Magazine Best Site

Website Awards
Website Updates

By Chris De Herrera 
Copyright 1998-2007
 All Rights Reserved
A member of the Talksites Family of Websites

Windows and Windows CE are trademarks of Microsoft
Corporation
and are used
under license from owner.
CEWindows.NET is not
associated with Microsoft 
Corporation.

All Trademarks are owned
by their respective companies.

Siberian X Review 
By Allen Gall, Copyright 2002
Revised 11/12/2002

Shop unique and cheap iPhone cases on DHgate.com

Most of you are probably familiar with the whole genre of Japanese anime, which has given birth to comic books, graphic novels, and cartoons with surreal and sometimes sexually explicit storylines targeted toward adults.  A lot of this stuff is meant for consumption by American audiences, who gobble it up with all the fervor of a Star Trek or RPG fanatic.  Anime has also found a niche in the game industry, with titles like Street Fighter and the Metal Slug series.  These games often feature the characteristic bubbly-eyed cartoon characters, incomprehensible plots, and over-the top game play.

          Gameloft (www.gameloft.com) has now brought us a shooter by the name of Siberian Strike X, modeled after a title developed for the PalmOS and mobile phones.  The game is very loosely based on 1942, an early 80s arcade shooter based on Galaga and developed by Japanese gaming giant Capcom.  1942 was clever because you'd shoot down waves of enemy airplanes instead of the usual space aliens.  But that's where the similarities end.  The enemy isn't the Japanese this time, which is perhaps fitting, since the game is about as Japanese as it can get.

          Loading the game takes you to an alternate universe located vaguely around the World War 2 era, “19xx” to be exact.  Our enemies are the Soviets.  We're out to vanquish Stalin's giant robotic doppleganger, who seeks to destroy the world by distributing fine Russian vodka with some curious side effects.  The giant robot is a product of crossbreeding involving Stalin himself and a space satellite.  I'm not sure how that worked, but just remember that the Stalinka-bot (and its henchman, who you'll meet along the way in the form of level bosses) need to be eliminated, and you'll do just fine. 

          Anyway, you're part of the “Siberian Strike X” team, an elite group of fighter pilots selected by the U.S. government to take care of the Russians.  The team is a trio of superstars, including two men and one very amply drawn (read: braless) female.  They run the gamut of abilities: one specializes in speed but is weak on armor and weapons, another specializes in armor and firepower but is slow, and the third is a middling compromise between the two.  Unlike most games, you can select your fighter between and sometimes even within levels.  This is a very handy ability to have, as some levels are so full of action and enemies that it’s best to have speed to simply be able to dodge all the incoming fire.  Others, on the other hand, work out better if you simply load up on firepower and blast away everything in site.

          Like many Japanese-inspired games, SSX plays like an overwrought but enjoyable diversion into outright silliness.  Game play and style always take precedence over graphics and believability.  The graphics, while clearly “cartoonish,” are highly detailed.  On my LOOX, the game ran very quickly, with no slowdowns.  Unlike many vertical shooters, the planes don’t just fall from above—they approach from the sides, the bottom, sometimes leaving the screen and  reappearing.  They also appear in elaborately choreographed formations, sometimes circling and even dive-bombing the player as if they were taking part in some bizarre airborne ballet.   There’s a lot of variety to the backgrounds, and they’re not static, either—they contain ships and trains with revolving turrets and various other enemies that would be more than happy to take you out.  There’s a lot that can kill you in SSX, and in some levels you’ll spend just as much time dodging bullets as you do targeting enemies. 

          Fortunately, generous amounts of power-ups will lend a helping hand.  These are just as overblown as other aspects of the game—you’ll get heat-seeking missiles, flamethrowers, mysterious but potent jade-colored projectiles, and pumped-up machine guns, all on a propeller-based aircraft!  You’ll also find the usual “megabomb” (which destroys everything on the screen) and a team-based attack, where the other two fighters flank you on each side (very briefly) for some added firepower.  There are also items that look like little merit badges that you can collect during each level, but I’m not really sure what they do.

The planes in SSX come in lots of formations—dodging them (and their bullets) is a job in of itself.

          Sound and music help contribute to the overall tone of the game.  The background music, of course, is melodramatic, a perfect companion to a game that has you flying an airplane trying to stop a gigantic robot from killing the world with vodka.  Sound effects get the job done, with plenty of satisfying explosion noises, bullet hit sounds, and a little bit of speech thrown in for good measure.  I really wish they had the characters shout ambiguous Japanese phrases at key moments in the game.  For example, I’d like to have the female character shout out something like “SOYOBO!” after collecting a power-up. 

          Many games in this genre have a tacked-on storyline, but SSX fortunately never loses sight of its “plot,” and since the plot is such a silly one, the game always retains its tongue-in-cheek feel.  Dialogue is important in this game, and the characters often speak in captions with their portrait—enemies will taunt you, and your fellow pilots will give you helpful advice.  Between levels, goofy cutscenes keep the action moving, making you feel like you’re living through some bizarre but hilarious nightmare.  Both the cutscenes and the in-game dialogue contain some odd grammatical constructions that are sometimes awkward and amusing.  These appear to be contrived, since the game is an original creation and not Japanese, as far as I can tell.  Still, they prevent the game from ever becoming serious, and in a title like this, it’s all good (once you’ve seen the drunken penguins, you’ll know what I mean).  After all, a poorly translated Japanese video game was the source of that “ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US” catchphrase that swept the Internet (and overstayed its welcome) a while back.

When going up against a boss like this one, sometimes it helps to have a little help from your fellow pilots.

          In keeping with the focus on game play, Gameloft included plenty of options to keep players coming back for more.  You can adjust the game’s difficulty if you’re having trouble in a particular spot.  The game offers only seven levels, but you can have the game start at any level you’ve played, which should save you time.  Sound and music volumes can be adjusted independently.  You can also adjust the level of detail in the game.  This is something I really don’t want to see much of in the future, since most of us are running PDAs that are roughly the same speed, but I suppose it may be helpful for those running older MIPS-based devices.  For those of you running newer XScale devices, slowing down your device via the power management setting in your system settings might make the game a bit easier to play.  

          Siberian Strike X is like one of those B movies that is intentionally bad and draws you in whether you want it to or not.  I played all seven of the game’s levels, and I want to keep on playing.  Those who are looking for any mental challenge or a realistic shooter won’t want to mess with SSX.  However, for those looking for some cartoon violence, SSX is loud, flashy, and dumb, but it’s well constructed and happens to be a lot of fun.  A

          Siberian Strike X comes in three versions: one supporting Pocket PCs, another supporting MIPS-based Pocket PCs (such as the Casio E-1xx series), and another supporting ARM-based Pocket PCs.  A demo is available, and the full version can be purchased at PocketGear for $19.95.

Allen Gall is a freelance game reviewer and the games editor for Pocket PC FAQ. If you have a game you'd like Allen to review, you can e-mail him at [email protected] PC FAQ

Return to Chris De Herrera's Windows CE Website