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super senso pax west hands on

One of the biggest booths at PAX West 2016 was

GungHo Entertainment, a studio currently working on exciting breakout titles, such as Suda 51’s Let It Die. Another game that the studio is crafting is entirely different from Let It Die but nonetheless exciting. On the other side, was a brightly colored, cartoony booth, filled with iPad and gamers. This mammoth area belonged to a special video game, with great action and a solid twist on strategy: Super Senso. Upon arriving at the both, I was greeted by Jaimie, a representative of GungHo Entertainment, along her staff. At the conclusion of the pleasantries, the iPad was turned on, and I got myself right into the game.

Senso is Japanese for war, as a representative from GungHo told me. Naturally, Super Senso is all about war, but also, all about having some fun and challenge in the fields of tactical combat. The goal of GungHo Entertainment was to create an AAA, console-quality experience for mobile platforms, such as Android and iOS devices. As technology becomes more mobile, more mobile games are being developed. However, there are some, despite their premise, that doesn’t quite fill the hole that is left when gaming on a mobile platform.

Games on consoles and computers have the capabilities of delivering a fuller experience, which is something that mobile games tend to struggle with. However, with Super Senso, that hole is filled with a focus on deep, evolving gameplay, and accessibility for players of all experiences.  This is further underscored by the fact that major heavy weight, such as Nobuo Uematsu, have lent their talents to the game to create a compelling and fun tactical combat experience that can be played anywhere.

The game is rooted in the rules of Turn-based strategy, but it contains a few twists. The game draws a significant inspiration from a popular Nintendo franchise, Advance Wars.  Advance Wars, another turn-based tactical combat game, put players on an overhead battlefield, commanding their troops in a colorful fashion. In Super Senso, the ultimate objective is to wipe you the player’s primary base and manufacturing resources.  The other facilities will be responsible for creating new units. These units can be helicopters, tanks, soldiers, snipers, as well as airstrikes.

Each side has three certainties: A primary base, an orbital laser cannon, and a Senso. During each turn, the objective will be to attack the enemy’s smaller units and bases. Every attack rewards players with power stones, as well as a powerful score multiplier. The turn is also timed-based, so racking up successful attacks, as well as destroying units, is imperative to success. Upon the end of that turn, the laser’s attack will commence. It’s attack damage is in relation to your multiplier. A higher multiplier will yield a more highly damaging shot.

Lastly, the Senso, or mech, will be instrumental to success. The sensor has multiple attacks nd defensive capabilities. Having a Senso will keep your enemy on alert, but give you an advantage for battle. Your enemy will also have a Senso deployed as well. However, only once Senso can be deployed for battle. When that Senso is destroyed, it is gone for the duration of the battle. There is no re-deploying a Senso. If players lose a Senso, they will have to rely on smaller combat units. With all this in mind, my demo began.

I was brought to a simple stage and instructed on the basics of the combat. The scene took place in a desert, with two facilities and the main base for my side, as well as the opposing side. Right away, I had access to me Senso and deployed several small units. The other team deployed there’s as well. My Senso engaged several enemy combatants in combat, dealing damage, and destruction. However, early on in the battle, my Senso fell, and I was later instructed that I should have guarded the Senso with units, to give the mech more longevity in combat. I didn’t,  so I had to rely on my smaller units.

I called in helicopters, bombers, two snipers, and a tank. When initiating movement, the tile piece opened up, allowing me to move straight in any direction based on those tiles. Those familiar with Advance Wars, or even Front Mission, should find this interface most suitable. When selecting a target, I double tapped my chosen target, and watched the destruction ensue. Once I got the hang of the combat, I was able to pull off solid chains of unit takedowns. Several thrilling moments arose from the combat. I gathered a tank, a helicopter, and a bomber around the enemy Senso. It felt like something straight out of Godzilla, with the Senso being the beast and me being the military forces. After several attempts and even an artillery bombardment, I was able to to take the Senso down.

The enemy would have tricks up its sleeves, and at times, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. The enemy’s satellite strikes did a number on my primary base, and I had lost my Senso. However, with some guidance from GungHo, I was able to successfully maneuver my forces and wisely utilize my time. The fact that Super Senso dismisses skill points for time management was awesome! It made every turn a feverish race to make good, on-the-fly choices. I quickly maneuvered my soldiers and units to make good choices and attack specific units. The units themselves are all very unique as well. There are no reskins or slight adjustments. Every unit will stand on its own, own with strengths and weaknesses.

That being said, my bomber and helicopter went to good work, taking down the enemy’s tanks and soldiers. My mobile AA unit took down helicopters, and my tank took care of everything else.  One attack I was reminded to keep using was the artillery strike, which affected all units within a certain amount of tiles. This was extremely useful towards the end of the match, as I was able to deliver solid blows to distant units. As previously mentioned, power stones are everything in Super Senso. Using the stones will give you the opportunity to either deploy more units or use the artillery strike. As I was down to the wire, one last attack allowed me to wipe out multiple units, power my laser, and absolutely crush the enemy! With my victory achieved, the demo was over.

I absolutely enjoyed my time with Super Senso and would definitely encourage mobile platform gamers, on either side of Apple or Android, to check this game out further. The unique twists in combat were great, the game’s presentation was solid, and the “one more turn” hook was there. If the iPad wasn’t connected to a charger, I could imagine draining the battery of an iPad from playing Super Senso for many hours. When the game launches, more maps and units will be available for play, along with different objectives.

Look for Super Senso to strike on Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App store, sometime before the end of 2016.

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