by Mike Fahey 





1 CD 

1 or 2


Trap Gunner is a bold new game from Atlus, proud publishers of half the games coming out this holiday season. I exaggerate, but not much. Trap Gunner is a game that pits you against either the computer or another human in a hyperactive bout of neo-Spy VS. Spy. You travel through several top-down 3D levels placing, avoiding, and disarming various traps in an attempt to take out the opposition permanently.   

You choose one of the six initial characters and start working your way through the story mode. Each stage you either face off against a single enemy or race against time to disarm all the traps in a level. Although you have distance weapons as well as physical attacks in close range, the main focus is setting traps. There are a wide variety of traps to use, and in the right combination they are downright deadly. Once you get the mechanics and timing down, you can set a trap that will push your foe towards a pit, drop them in, then release poison gas. You can also disarm traps by pressing button combinations in the right order within the allotted time. Watch your life bar though; once it is depleted, so are you.

The graphics are solid but nothing too spectacular, and sometimes it is hard to see where you can and cannot go due to the small scale. The split screen view can be confusing, since the levels are pretty uniform in design. The sound is pretty good, actually, with nice explosive effects and a dark techno soundtrack worthy of any movie whose trailer starts off "In a dark future. . ."

When it comes right down to it, it's a 50/50 game. Standalone the story mode just isn't compelling enough for me to really wanna get down in it, even with the promise of hidden characters. Those great bomb combos are almost impossible to pull off in later levels without your target coming to mess with you. Where the game really shines is multiplayer. Get a friend together and play the game or better yet, start the game and give each other a minute or so for trap placement. There is hardly anything better than watching your friend launch into trap after trap after trap; to quote a bad 80's action show, "I love it when a plan comes together."

So Trapgunner really is a mixed bag. The aesthetics are slightly above average, and the gameplay ranges from OK (single player) to outstanding (multiplayer). Purchase accordingly or ignore me totally, it's just what I do.

  Average graphics, sometimes too small to see. Nice effects.
  Great with a friend, not-so-great without.
  Sound effects are good, though nothing to write home about. Techno soundtrack is fitting and nicely done.
  Aside from the old Commodore game, Spy VS. Spy, there is nothing out there quite like it.
Replay Value:  
  Play through all the characters to learn the stories and earn the extra characters. Come back over and over for the multiplayer.
  A solid concept, suffering from what I like to call Bomberman syndrome: Great multiplayer, so-so story mode. Rent first (these rental places must love me by now.)