Having sat and watched this month’s monthly musings come and go, I realized something was missing. Of all the guilty pleasures we indulge in, where were the endless fields of numbers? The almost slavish devotion to Excel Spreadsheet-esque layer menus? Surely I cannot be the only robot who spends countless amounts of time pouring over menu after menu of data and fielding the steel engines of mass destruction that are the fruits of his labor. Let us examine the following.
Front Mission, a series that began on the Super Nintendo and continues to this day on the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo DS, is the first example that comes to mind for this sort of thing. The virtually limitless customization a player can pour into each and every Wanzer – giant mecha designed to be the absolute cutting edge in warfare – is simply breathtaking, and I can say without a doubt I’ve spent at least a third as much time building the mechs I’d play with as I did actually playing with them.
A similar sort of game, though real-time instead of Front Mission’s turn-based combat, can be found in Armored Core. If playing a giant robot that gets to tear other giant robots to pieces and stomp all over tanks wasn’t enough for you, Armored Core lets you detail exactly what sort of shooting, slashing, jet packing, exploding mayhem you want to unleash upon your foes. Mount your choice of flamethrowers, missile launchers, laser cannons, sniper rifles, beam swords, and machine guns on a body of your design standing (or hovering) proud on the legs you’ve chosen and unleash the chaos your specifications have determined.
If you liked Fable, Knights of the Old Republic, and Elder Scrolls for letting you choose whether your character was good or evil, but haven’t experienced the sheer bliss of piloting your perfectly honed, custom-built-from-the-ground-up death machine in epic battles against others of its kin, you’re depriving yourself of something wonderful. I cannot help but be as giddy as a school girl in Sex Ed when I win a hard-fought battle and find myself with more cash to spend on new parts. Can you?