ROBOT: “Boot and operation number. Now!” [rekt.exe] I’ve been playing a lot of intricate games recently. Probably too many. I thought: “ehh, maybe I’ll find a shorter one to make a video on”. [low-pitched whispering gibberish] Okay, never mind. “Metal Arms: Glitch in the System”! I’ve had a lot of people asking about this one over the years and that’s not just unusual because it’s a console exclusive. A lot of people seem to have played some kind of demo of this game, but fewer actually had it, and fewer than that even beat it. And because there’s no PC version, that opens the uncomfortable door of… well, which version do I play? Between the PlayStation, the Xbox and the GameCube, surprisingly enough, the PlayStation 2 version looks the worst. Not only are the lighting effects worse, but the controls are more slippery, compared to the other two versions, and there’s only two players for multiplayer, instead of four. But it has a multiplayer map the other two don’t. Huh. So, now it’s between the Xbox and the GameCube version. Well, without a doubt, the GameCube version has worse textures, though it does have some graphical and weapon effects that the Xbox version does not for some reason. So, now what? Well, enter the “Metal Arms Mapping Project”. These are a bunch of textures from the Xbox version that were given to someone by an anonymous developer, who was, probably, also pissed there was no ideal version of this game. So, you can take your owned and rightful GameCube version and load it up in Dolphin. Then you shove in the remap files and – congratulations! – you now have the best version of the game. You even get the handy Xbox prompts for your controller. Of course, you still might get some occasional slowdown, but the native game was like that too, so consider it even more authentic. So, unless a remaster comes out, this is probably as good as it’s gonna get. Actually, who bought this company anyways? [rustling pages]
So, unless a remaster comes out, this is probably as good as it’s gonna get. Actually, who bought this company anyways? Ughhh… So, let’s talk about the game, starting from the beginning. DROID1: “Hey, over here! Zobby found something! DROID2: “Wow! What kind of droid is that?” DROID1: “I don’t know, I’ve never seen anyone like him.” DROID3: “Let’s get him back to Droid Town. The Colonel will know what to do.” DROID1: “Check out that strange marking…” [suspenseful music] COLONEL ALLOY: “Hey, Krunk, were you able to repair our mystery bot?” KRUNK: “Of course I f*cking fixed him! It was a huge pain in the f*cking waste pan, because, he’s some kind of a custom jobbie.” KRUNK: “But nothin’ I couldn’t handle. Some of his memory chips were fried, so he’ll need a new data upload…” So, you play as a robot named Glitch and, like many other characters in the 2000s, you have amnesia. A charming little newsreel explains the background, which is that you are on the planet of Iron Star. A planet, created by a mysterious race, known as the Morbots. They could still be around, but no one knows for sure. Currently, a scientist robot has accidently created an army of evil robots. They’re out to take over the world, install Vista on everything, leave “pm’d you the fix” on forums, I don’t know. They’re Bad News Bears. So, you need to send the Brave Little Toasters back to hell from the grassy knoll. And that’s it. Help the good robots shoot the bad robots in the face. That’s… all there is to it. So, here are some things I find odd. First, you have the title: “Metal Arms: Glitch in the System”. It’s a weird name for this kind of game. It makes me think of like a JRPG that’s 200 hours long or something. It’s also not clear who this game is targeted towards. From the box I can go: “Okay, there will be a funny robot and he will shoot other robots”. I didn’t expect to hear one say “motherfucker” in the first minute of the game. There’s more to explore there, but, for now, let’s talk about the other elements of the presentation. This stuff still applies, even with the Frankenstein version of the game. Most of the areas you play in are pretty desolate, like underground caves, or wastelands, or trenches. You do go to a lot of cities and there are some indoor areas as well, but it still maintains the same level of being drab. There are a few levels, where they sort of mixed this up. The most interesting being the Morbot levels, which are like Forerunner Bionicles. Still, the single player campaign is over 40 levels and most will look like this. They’re on the more barren side, but there is a trade-off for that – destructibility. [shooting, screams and explosions] “Ow, my shoulder!” [tardy boosh] While it’s not on the level of something like “Red Faction”, you can break a lot of the environment apart. You can just do this for giggles, but a lot of the time you can use it to your advantage, whether it’s killing enemies or finding some more items. The character models are also very detailed for a console game of this time and, like the environment, can also be ripped apart. The sheer amount of effects and particles from the destruction could cause slowdown on console and, once again, it happens here. Still, the slowdown only happens sometimes, while the destruction’s entertaining all of the time. [high-pitched scream] I do wish there was some more variety in detail in all the environments, but trading that off for the character detail isn’t a horrible thing to do. There’s even some fun gameplay elements to that, that we’ll come back to. When it comes the sound, it’s pretty alright. All of the weapon and level sound effects are clean and nothing low-quality sticks out. So, while it’s serviceable and really not worth discussing any further, it does lead into the best part of the sound, which is the music. It complements the action perfectly. [Metal Arms In-Game Music – Seen Better Days] [Metal Arms In-Game Music – Secret Rendezvous] [Metal Arms In-Game Music – Do Ore Die] [Metal Arms In-Game Music – Barter Shop] It’s mainly thumping electronic sounds, which you would expect for a robot game, but it’s also very jazzy. Sometimes, it’s subdued, sometimes, it sounds like the “Animatrix”. [Metal Arms In-Game Music – Droid Town] Then you have all the voice acting, which is also great. I was surprised at how many voice actors I recognized, since I didn’t think the game would have such a high budget for that. GLITCH: “What’s the matter?” MOZER: “Ah… I’m defective… My joints need regrinding. My crankshaft is bad; I can’t even get my piston up!” GLITCH: “Uh, yeah… What’s your name, anyway?” MOZER: “Name? Wow, no one ever asked me my name before.” KRUNK: “Nice job, jerkwad. It’s about time you cleared those guys out. I’ve been hiding up here for a f*cking month, livin’ off oil puddles and tin scraps!” GLITCH: “I thought you were captured.” KRUNK: “I escaped, dumbass! These sh*theads couldn’t hold a conversation.” COLONEL ALLOY: “The blast from destroying that machine is the only thing powerful enough to bring down the mines.” COLONEL ALLOY: “Hurry, Glitch, the Mils are close to Droid Town!” There’s a ton of energy to all the direction. Minor characters and even one-off joke characters give fantastic deliveries. Everyone was on the same page on what the game’s tone would be and no one sounds out of place, which is actually a huge accomplishment for a game like this. I guess, I’m just shocked that it maintained the quality for everybody. Even all the callouts and screams the enemies have sound great. In the same way that the characters’ visual designs can make up for the more uninteresting levels, the same could be said for their voice lines. A fight can sometimes look sterile, but it will never sound that way. [high-pitched scream] ENEMY DROID: “The rebel miner! Take him out!” [explosions, screams, heavy gunfire] While the presentation can definitely get repetitive at times, there’s still a lot of good here. There’s no denying, that “Metal Arms” has a lot of charm. So, on to the gameplay. Now, visually it might look like some of those cartoony shooter games you remember fondly, but this one is a little different. It’s harder. Jesus Christ, why is it so much harder…? [rekdsk] Okay, so the basics of this game are simple. You go through a linear level, fight the bad guys, get to the end – on to the next level. The level designs will typically include some platforming. Sadly, you handle like a fridge on ice skates in this game. Whenever you jump and land, you’ll slide just a little bit every time. That is bad, but luckily, the game never acquires that much platforming, that you NEED to do. So no, that’s not the difficulty. There are nearly two dozen primary and secondary weapons to find and upgrade. The levels are linear, but there are areas to explore to find new stuff. It could be a weapon upgrade, or another kind of goodie, like a health upgrade or a reload speed increase. You also have your traditional power-ups, but those will expire after a short time. Now, this isn’t the only way to get new stuff. When you kill enemies, they sometimes drop washers. These grizzly robotic trophies are the game’s form of currency. These can be used to buy stuff at the back alley shop. This is where strange nuances start to kick in. Washers can also be snatched off objects you destroy, though you’ll have to figure out which ones will actually give you washers. But sometimes, the same object on the different level might not give any washers. Same for enemies. Sometimes, a big one gives washers, sometimes, it doesn’t. It’s all been predetermined, which individuals have cash money – you need to figure it out. These don’t fly across the map towards you, either. So, if you snipe someone in the different zip code, and they drop washers, you have to go up and get them. If you’re in a vehicle rampage – well, your vehicle can’t pick up stuff, so you need to get out of the car, get all the washers and then go back in. Remember: taking a risk, like killing more enemies, doesn’t mean you’ll get more washers, because it’s all predetermined, so, if you see washers, you wanna get them, because who the fuck knows who else has them? Of course, when you walk across the entire map, collecting the washers from your kills, you might stumble across a GOLDEN washer. Those give a… a few more. I can’t remember. All these dropped items, but no washers. There is even a rumor that you need a certain amount to beat the final boss. Well, that scares me… With that in mind, there is a very certain way you need to go about this. The shop has offers to buy new weapons, but it’s a scam. You’ll usually find the weapon being sold in the same level, if not in the next one. Maybe that’s why they do what they do when you buy it. You don’t need to buy health or ammo packs. Enemies drop a bunch of those already. The things you need to buy that you can’t reliably find are the weapon upgrades. 90% of your time with the shop should be buying upgrades. You don’t wanna think about buying ammo, unless it’s the only thing they have to sell. It goes beyond “a kind of weird design” to almost seeming like a trick. An upgrade could be the one thing that can save you in a difficult ambush. It’s easy to get stuck if mess up your progress by buying ammo and new weapons, instead of the upgrades. This “EVE Online” shop won’t be available on every level. In fact, there will be several without it. Even then, it’s sometimes hidden, and you need to find it. These only get more essential. So that’s the first trap: buying anything other than upgrades at the store. Maybe Recruit Grenades too, if you have a surplus. Well, not that you’d know if you have a surplus… The best strategy is to be a klepto and get all the washers, because you never want to go to the shop without any money. Upgrades are your life. [*dink*] “HUH?!” (*BOOSH*) Now, I don’t want to scare you off and make the game sound like an endless nightmare, because it’s not. [Marv scream]
Now, I don’t want to scare you off and make the game sound like an endless nightmare, because it’s not. Now, I don’t want to scare you off and make the game sound like an endless nightmare, because it’s not. If you keep up with the upgrades, it’s mostly fine, there are just some weird spikes of difficulty. “Metal Arms” tries its best to shake things up. Right when I was getting bored of an area, or after a particularly long mission, there would be something different right after. Might be something like a driving section, even if the controls are… eh… a little archaic. That comes from a Greek word, meaning “great misery”. You get to play as characters besides Glitch, who have their own powers and abilities. There are some turret section stuff, there are some puzzles – there is a decent variety of stuff to do. Of course, the main focus is gonna be the shooting sections, and they’re good. All of the weapons and upgrades give you a lot of situational options. The AI has the IQ necessary to put up a good fight, and would even surprise me sometimes. The weapon upgrades aren’t necessarily very creative – they just get more violent. A rocket launcher eventually becomes a cluster launcher, a shotgun eventually becomes a full-auto double-barreled shotgun and a razor eventually can cut into the very soul of its enemies. There a three big areas for creative violence. The first being figuring out which primary weapon goes best with the secondary one. Disable the bad men with EMP, blow them up with a rocket launcher. Not super innovative, but okay. The second big one is limb-based damage, and no, not like that. If you do enough damage to an enemy limb, you might knock it off, but you’ll probably disable it. Now they can’t hit you AS easily. At the same time, it generates a lot more carnage. You can EMP to shock a robot and start knocking out its limbs, but those guns aren’t off just yet. Instead, now they’re WILDLY UNPREDICTABLE. They still might shoot you. They might shoot the enemy. They might shoot itself. Who knows… When you’re WILDLY UNPREDICTABLE, anything can happen. This simple idea adds so much to the fights. Not only do you rip enemies apart piece by piece, but their combat effectiveness goes down. They might drop grenades at their feet, their shots go wild. It adds a whole new dimension of chaos and fun to a shootout, instead of just watching a health bar go down. And it ties into the next mechanic. [Marv scream] Robot possession. As long as you get a good angle behind them, you could probe nearly anyone in the game. It could be hard to line up a shot, but once you possessed an enemy, you can use all the abilities they have. Sometimes, you need them for puzzles, but a lot of the time you can just take one whenever. It’s fun to send them into the thick of combat, because, if they do get wiped out… well, it’s not you. You can keep fighting. Because limb rules are still in play. Send in a foot soldier with broken arms and just hold down the trigger. Not my problem. You have a free robot, so it gives you a challenge to keep fighting, even when things are getting more and more ridiculous. Awkwardly running around, trying to get the rocket launcher arm to sort of swing in front of you, so you can shoot it. It’s such a cool addition – I loved seeing how much damage each enemy could take and still fight with it. Though, robots in this world are people, so, besides just probing their little metal holes, he’s also probing their spirituality itself. But… They don’t really worry about that. I’m sorry, I’m still in recovery… So, while the weapons aren’t incredibly unique, the limb damage system makes every fight chaotic. Possessing those who dare raise their hand against you is also a cool option. Now it’s time to talk about the difficulty spikes. Let’s see… Very early on in the game, you get these reforming zombie enemies. I’m actually not sure if there’s a special technique to make the reforming stop – I’d just shoot them until they don’t get up anymore. They really like spawning around ledges, so they could claw you out into the abyss. So, I thought I’d just stay away from the ledges, but they’re just as dangerous on regular land. These things had to have been PlayStation Vitas, there’s no other way. Later on, “Metal Arms” really likes to ambush you. Typically, with hard-hitting enemies. A door opens and a death conga line just pours out of it. It’s relentless. Some levels are just streets of agony, where they have so much that you actually try tactics like sneaking past all of it. But, oops, the next area has even more. It’s not ramped up to this – these levels just kind of appear. Sometimes, I’d use a Recruit Grenade to make a personal army with pocket healers, and I’d make it through okay. Sometimes, I’d exhaust every item and option I could think of and just try to run past it, and… that would work. Some of these levels gave me a run for my money, and I wasn’t playing on the hardest difficulty. God knows what’s in Nuts of Steel. If that wasn’t enough, then you have the boss sections, which are usually cryptic. There’s the zombie king, who you shoot a lot, until he holds still, and then… what do you do now? Well, his mouth is bellowing, so I could shoot him there, but no. Maybe his back chimneys that are burping out smoke? Nope. You need to throw a specific kind of grenade into his mouth. You also need to eyeball it, because the grenades won’t line up. How about when they take away all your upgrades and let you loose in an arena, with just the possession tether? And once again, you need to eyeball shoot it to use traps, because some enemies have energy shields, and you can’t tether and possess them even if you wanted to. Okay, this one is hard, but I get it. When you get to the final boss, you don’t fight him directly – you just blow up boxes in an arena to try and find items. You need to collect 4 chips to possess and defeat him. Out of all the engaging fights I can think of, I can’t say I’d think of “blow up boxes AROUND the big boss”. And no, you don’t need a certain number of washers to beat the final boss. You can buy a chip to make it easier, and not have to blow up more boxes, but it’s optional. But after that you get his real final form where you do shoot him, and… it’s the easiest fight in the game. While I didn’t show all of them, the previous boss fights were usually cryptic or just frustrating to pull off. So, now we’re at the reason why I think a lot of people asked me to do this video. This game was supposed to be a trilogy, but it fizzled out here, and has remained obscure ever since. After playing it, it’s not hard to see why: there’s no set demographic. For young kids, the game is too difficult and cryptic. There’s adult humor, but not quite enough to get an adult or a teenager to really get interested in it. The PlayStation 2 had similar games to this, and it could find a fanbase there, but… no. And that’s because “Jak 2” came out a month before this game, and then a week before, “Ratchet and Clank 2” came out. And the PS2 port was the worst version, so it had no chance. How about the story? “Metal Arms” has some funny cutscenes. ANNOUNCEMENT: “Will the party or parties responsible for releasing all of the experimental looney bots please return them to their pins?” ANNOUNCEMENT: “They are shooting the employees. Thank you!” There are good jokes. COLONEL ALLOY: “Glitch, if you hear Agent Shush’s theme song, he’ll be nearby.” There was the long brutal scene of Glitch undergoing stroggification. Who am I kidding… What story? Questions the intro raised, like the Morbots and the symbol on Glitch and other stuff I didn’t show – none of it’s brought up again. There was a part on the spy robot factory where I went “Oh, they will reveal that Glitch was a secret sleeper droid or something”, but no. Instead, nothing happened. “Jak 2” had an awesome character betrayal. In this, you meet a guy, and then, a scene later after you’ve met him – then he’s evil. The glimpses of the characters you see look great, but that’s all there are – just glimpses. Maybe they were going to do more with it. Maybe the sequel they teased would answer a lot more. As it stands, there are barely, barely any story beats. Even “Overlord” had more of a story. So, the game wouldn’t get popular by having a compelling tale. Which only leaves the multiplayer. I couldn’t record it on this version, but what I have played of the multiplayer is really fun. I could easily see hours just slipping away with the bois playing it. However, even this has a fatal flaw. The multiplayer maps are locked off by secret chip items. These are hidden throughout the singleplayer game, along with being awarded for completing a level quickly. There are nearly 200 of them. Which means having to go back and replay levels in the singleplayer campaign multiple times, just to get stuff for multiplayer. That’s rarely gonna happen. “Metal Arms: Glitch in the System” isn’t a hidden classic – it’s… good. It’s alright. It does make me feel a little sad, because the game has a really great direction to go in. The sequel that never was could have ironed out its flaws and made something really spectacular. It’s likely that the game as is came out early. There are tons and tons of unused dialogue files in the game. Maybe there was a really interesting story, just waiting to be revealed. I’m not sure we’ll ever know what the full plan was. So this is what we have: a fun game with some interesting ideas that just couldn’t beat out its competition. A little robot who couldn’t. And I wish he could have. So, that about wraps it up. Next time I’ll play a game from… I don’t know, Finland or something. Well, that got surprisingly depressing. Time for Patreon questions to cheer me up, or make me worse. Ian Kennedy: “How are you feeling?” I assume you mean the injury. Well, it’s way better than it was in June, so, that’s good enough for me. Undead: “Can we hope for The Void Christmas Special?” Not this year. I don’t wanna IcePick Lodge people out. Jojo Evans: “Thoughts on Stadia or streaming games?” Assuming it worked perfectly, it’s fine as an option, but stream-exclusive games taking off could be some of the worst things to happen to video games. I might do a video for that, when Stadia comes out. Thanton: “Are you going to do Age of Empires/Mythology games?” Not sure about the others, but definitely “Mythology”. That was like my “Warcraft 3” when it came to map-making and all that stuff. Also, I can talk about that awful expansion. Brendan: “Will there be 40K videos?” Absolutely! In fact, if hadn’t had what happened to me happen to me, I probably would have had some more out by now. There’s already 5 in particular that I really wanna do. One of them is a fun fan-made thing from a few years ago, and I think people will like that. Anyways, thanks so much! I’ll see you in the next video! Is this “Halo 4”?