Black Rock Shooter has become a major icon in the anime, manga, and cosplay community. There have been a few games made and they are getting the BRS media franchise more and more recognition. Inspired by a song the illustration of Black Rock Shooter is what caught people’s eye. The gritty cyberpunk style was popular at the time and it was quickly spread around and more popular than hotcakes. While the media franchise really caught on in Japan, it has only gained headway into the far reaches of the anime community here in the State. Nippon Ichi Software America has been gracious enough to localize, Black Rock Shooter: The Game in the United States. While it is download only and for the PSP, this is a game many have been waiting to play.
The year is 2032 and aliens have attacked the planet Earth. There are only 12 humans left. In an act of desperation they activate a weaponized android, Black Rock Shooter. The premise of BRS is rather good, and the atmosphere of the story is really nice as well. You get a really strong cyberpunk feeling when going through the destroyed cities of the world. The problem is the pacing and execution. Many of the story driven levels or even just the cutscenes are very boring and you are compelled to skip them.
The gameplay is unique and quite fun. You play as BRS in a pseudo-turn based/real time combat RPG setting. The square button is to shoot your gun. This is the main way you will be dealing damage. You also have the ability to guard and dodge. In accordance with your moves, there is a Heat Gauge. The heat gauge increase very fast when you fire off pot shots from your gun too often. Overheating renders BRS useless and immobile for a few seconds. Guarding keeps the gauge where it is percentage wise, while dodging increases the gauge. The only way to cool is to wait a few seconds or use an item.
There is an element to strategy to how you approach boss fights with the heat gauge, and it works very well. There are four slots for abilities. You will use these with the R button + Face Buttons. You will learn various abilities through leveling up, finding them in chests, or completing challenges. Some are supportive, while others are more offensive. These recharge as the battle goes on.
Every chapter has a variety of challenges to complete. Some may tell you to kill a certain amount of enemies, and others will want you to not get hit. These reward you with passive abilities, active ones in combat or items. Many are easy, some are really damn hard. The consistency of the difficulty with the challenges is sporadic, but pretty balance. High risk, high reward is what comes to mind.
The level design has pros and cons. The layout is very linear in most areas. While others are somewhat large and you will be backtracking a lot. There are objective markers to lead you in the right direction, but they will not always be there. The actual texturizing and details of the level are the pros. There is a sense of desperation and dystopia.
The music is of course fantastic with bands like One Ok Rock lending their musical skill for the intro song. The art direction is really cool as well. The graphics themselves are very PSP and feel a bit old because of the Vita being released.
This is a game for the PSP but it works on the Vita. I feel as though if I played this game on the PSP it would have felt better. However, playing on the Vita, it feels really outdated. The game is still fun even though you may find yourself skipping the cutscenes just to get into combat. I give Black Rock Shooter for the PSP a 7.5/10.