rom a glance, P.N. 03 would appear to have all of the makings of a certifiable Capcom hit. With a stylish science fiction setting that combines the sterile, white-walled architecture of THX-1138 with the technology ravaged sand dunes of Mad Max; the environments are simply breathtaking and the setting is, for the most part, foreign to video games.
The protagonist of this adventure is also of a different breed. While Vanessa Z. Schneider proves to be just as acrobatic and heroic as most video game stars, the methods she goes through to dispose of her adversaries is completely unconventional. She doesn’t wield firearms, and never once will she lay a hand on a foe. In a fashion similar to Space Channel 5’s Ulala, Vanessa combines dance with her ability to project lasers from her palm. This may sound a bit strange – which, in theory, it is – but it actually looks quite cool and is very reminiscent of the exaggerated over-the-top feats in Devil May Cry.
With the dynamic framework and original heroine design, P.N. 03 really does have an undeniable allure. It feels different and new – something gamers always crave. The fact that legendary game creator and father of the Resident Evil series Shinji Mikami supervised the creation of gameplay makes it all the more enticing. So, why is this game – one that shows such potential – a complete and utter waste?
The seductive female lead, inventive gameplay, and alien atmosphere will certainly suck you in; but once you get there, you’ll be exposed to the ugly truth behind P.N. 03. Within a matter of seconds of play, you’ll learn firsthand that this game is abysmal and far from engaging.
Vanessa’s assortment of dance-related moves certainly look graceful, but controlling her is a different story altogether. She moves like a robot with rusty joints. Without a strafe maneuver (you can only dodge or roll to the sides), it’s next to impossible to navigate the environments. The auto-targeting system works well, but with only one primary weapon and a handful of special attacks, blowing away robots gets old rather quickly. A typical gameplay session goes as follows: Jam on the fire button…evade the enemy’s retaliation fire by dodging to the right…fire again…dodge to the left….fire…move on to the next enemy. Since you can’t jump and shoot – or do anything different for that matter – you’re stuck doing the same thing from start to finish.
If you don’t die of boredom playing the game, you’ll run headlong into the most disappointing aspect of P.N. 03: It can be completed in a measly four hours. As if I need to say it, P.N. 03 is best left undiscovered until the day you find it in a bargain bin for a reasonable price.