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ESRB Rating TeenTrap Gunner
developer Racdym publisher Atlus
releasedate 09/25/1998 msrp $39.99
genre Shooter #players 1-2
difficulty Moderate analog Yes
Trap Gunner is not your run of the mill shooter or strategy title. The gameplay is unique and fresh with a great look on previous ideas.

Clearly Racdym has done its homework and developed a strikingly new title that has all the style and feel of a great John Woo action flick. The basis for the game is the trap setting and disarming with a little fighting thrown in. Using traps feels very much like the old Spy vs Spy game for the NES. The way you setup traps is hard to describe but in the game it feels very strategic. As you learn the levels you can take control by setting up trap zones that keep your opponent from moving into your area. The traps however can be disarmed by way of the agents special trap sensing training. Since you cannot see your opponent's traps on screen (only the traps you have set are shown on screen), you must use this skill by way of the triangle button and find the traps before you end up atop a deadly mine. Using this skill you can also disarm the trap by way of a button combination that is shown on screen, pressing the right buttons disarms the trap while pressing the wrong buttons sets the trap off. This way of dealing with the traps was very impressive and felt almost realistic as you were on a time limit as well.

Another really great feature of the traps is the way that you can setup a combo of sorts with different traps. Using a redirection trap will send enemies speeding away into a wall or another trap if positioned right. The fighting aspect of the gameplay is done by way of projectiles at long range and close range punches, kicks and sword slashes. While the fighting aspect is clearly not the main objective in defeating your opponent it is useful none the less.

The levels are played out in a 3/4 overhead view or an overhead view, which are admittedly not the best camera angles ever seen but for this type of gameplay it would be hard to imagine any other angle. Level design is setup with a two level design that incorporates ramps and steps to get to the second level. To give the best view the walls of the level become transparent when your agent is blocked but at times the levels can cause confusion. Each level also has pods that spawn new traps and these areas must be secured for a victory as this is easiest way to obtain more traps and better weapons.

In the one player mode you choose an agent of Gain and perform various tasks for the crime organization. The story keeps the game focused as you follow orders to assassinate other agents and disarm traps. While the other modes are VS modes against the CPU and against a willing friend. The latter of the two, VS a friend, uses Trap Gunner's split screen mode. Versus a human the matches can get quite strategic and can are sometimes played out like a Quake 2 deathmatch.

My main concerns with Trap Gunner's gameplay is the cluttered split screen mode and the speed of the overall game. Since the split screen is used in both one player (this is an option that can be changed) and two player, the screen space should have been used better. The biggest problem with the game is the overall speed of the game. While Trap Gunner is not awfully slow, it would have been much more fun sped up.

Trap Gunner uses a tile based movement for each of the players. Meaning that you move in along square tiles. Yet you do not have to move only forward, back, left or right on each tile. You can move fully through each tile and actually avoid traps at times buy edging yourself around them. The movement is not restrictive however but there are clear paths that you must travel, so the game is not true 3D. This isn't a bad thing since this is why the traps work so well. Each player moves smoothly and plays differently from the others much like a fighting game. Each of the buttons on the controller is used well with each having a specific use. Disarming the traps is also easy to do with the intuitive way to disarm them. Other than the game being slightly slow there are few complaints with the control.
Trap Gunner will most likely not win any awards for the graphics but they do show a great sense of anime style. Each character is well modeled but doesn't offer much detail as in faces or fingers. Level design is a bit on the bland side since most levels are either gray or brown. Trap Gunner does offer a few graphical effects that will please the eye such as some of the weapons and the explosions. Since the levels are quite small there isn't any noticeable draw-in nor clipping. Another complaint is the split screen mode mentioned before. It is very cluttered with things like your radar and trap inventory. Mainly, the problem is slowdown. At times the game comes to a crawl and it is surprising since the levels are small, the level of detail is low and the characters are small as well.
The announcer in Trap Gunner sounds like he was borrowed from a Hollywood movie set. Not only the announcer but most of the sound effects are movie quality. Music wise the game offers dance tracks along with action sounding tunes to set the suspense. Explosions can rock your speakers and sound like you are in the game. Just when you think that sound effects and music are being overlooked here comes a game like Trap Gunner to show you that the developers really want to make the total package.
Trap Gunner may not be for everyone but for anyone who is looking for a fresh type of game to play this might be it. The strategy and action parts of Trap Gunner blend perfectly and an awesome sense of style ties the game together. Recommended.

(09/25/1998)- by - Joey Gray

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