Publisher: Forever Entertainment S.A.
Developer: Forever Entertainment S.A.
Front Mission is one of those RPG series that hasn?t had the best track record in the West, in part due to the series not seeing a consistent localization effort across the board. We didn?t get any version of the original Front Mission until the Nintendo DS port hit in 2007, which was nearly 12 years after the release of the original game on Super Famicom. Front Mission 2 was never localized (but is coming in this wave of remakes, thankfully), Front Mission 3 and 4 did see North American releases, but then Front Mission 5 skipped us by. It also doesn?t help that some of the Front Mission titles that have been released in North America aren?t necessarily the best representation of the series, with the last related release being the abysmal Left Alive from 2019.
Thankfully, Front Mission 1st: Remake seems to mark a possible resurgence for the strategy mech RPG in the West, and while I?d like to have seen a little more done with the concept of a remake here, I still enjoyed my time spent with one of the two campaigns for this review. It?s not perfect by any stretch, but it was nice to revisit the original game again.
In Front Mission 1st: Remake, you?ll take on the role of a Wanzer pilot, giving you two lengthy campaigns to check out that tell a war story from both sides of the conflict. Wanzers are essentially giant mecha, not unlike your standard Gundam or Macross style robot, but maybe a little less flashy and more industrial in design than those popularized in anime media. As you advance through the story, you can purchase a variety of parts and weapons for your Wanzer, which will affect not only its attack and defensive stats, but how it looks in battle. You can also opt to choose from a number of unique colors for each Wanzer in your party, in order to help them stand out from one another on the battlefield. While Front Mission 1st: Remake is no graphical powerhouse, the designs used here are sharp and visually appealing, even when scaled down to a smaller size during battle.
While there is a lot of story to uncover in Front Mission 1st: Remake, you?ll be spending the majority of your time in battle with opposing Wanzer units. At the onset of a battle, you?ll be able to choose a number of Wanzer?s and their respective pilots to take with you into a fight, with each battle placing some sort of restriction on how many party members can join you. Once all units are selected the battle will begin, with you and your opponent taking turns moving units along tiles in the environment and then ideally lining up attacks or using items before ending your turn. If you?ve ever played any sort of tile-based strategy RPG in the past, Front Mission 1st: Remake will feel instantly familiar. It doesn?t have a lot of mechanics beyond enemy placement though, there are some limited effects from the environment regarding cover and chance-to-hit, but it?s not particularly deep or worth paying attention to. Due to this, veteran strategy RPG fans may find the combat to be a little bland, but I think there?s enough of a challenge present throughout Front Mission 1st: Remake to hold your attention.
As far as complaints, most of my issues with Front Mission 1st: Remake stem from calling it a remake. Remaster may have been a more appropriate term to use here, as the game does have a fresh coat of paint for sure, but the underlying mechanics are largely unchanged from the prior Nintendo DS release. The user interface is a little clunky, you?ll spend too much time in-between missions buying parts and upgrading Wanzers, and there?s little need to explore around the menu and talk to NPC?s unless you?re simply looking for some additional world-building flavor text. Front Missions 1st: Remake sticks with the random targeting that the original game has, which means that when you fire your weapon at an opposing Wanzer, you have no option to pick legs, arms, or body. This element of chance will likely frustrate new players, and while your pilots will gain skills that eventually do let you choose parts, it takes a decent amount of time to unlock those skills and the game does a poor job letting you know that those skills are coming, or when they unlock for each pilot.
All in all, Front Mission 1st: Remake would probably have benefited from a more concentrated effort on quality of life improvements as you?ll likely encounter a lot of little things that feel sort of archaic by modern standards as you progress. There isn?t any one major issue here, it?s absolutely playable and enjoyable as is, but I?d expect more out of an actual remake.
Still, I enjoyed revisiting Front Mission, and I think the base game is neat enough to warrant a look for any RPG fan out there that hasn?t had the opportunity to play one of these games yet. Both campaigns are pretty sizable, it took me a bit to finish the initial OCU campaign, and then there?s the tougher UCS campaign to check out that I haven?t finished, so you?ll certainly get a number of hours out of the game if you decide to dive in. I?d suggest giving Front Missions 1st: Remake a shot, maybe more so if you?ve never played the game before, just keep in mind that it?s a prettier port of a classic strategy RPG that may not have all the bells and whistles you?re used to with more modern titles.
Note: Forever Entertainment S.A. provided us with a Front Mission 1st: Remake Nintendo Switch code for review purposes.