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June 2024

Megaton Musashi W: Wired

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5
Genre: RPG/Action
Publisher: LEVEL5 Inc.
Developer: LEVEL5 Inc.
Release Date: April 24, 2024


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Switch Review - 'Megaton Musashi W: Wired'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on May 7, 2024 @ 12:40 a.m. PDT

Megaton Musashi W is a robot action RPG set on an alien-invaded Earth where an ensemble of 16 pilots teams up to reclaim the planet.

Megaton Musashi is a franchise that seemed destined to remain overseas. The original game was never localized, and an F2P version of the game likewise remained out of reach. Megaton Musashi W: Wired proves that the third time's the charm, as the long-absent entry into Level 5's library has finally landed in North America. Forgoing the F2P for a stand-alone entry, Megaton Musashi W is probably the most accessible the franchise will ever be.

Megaton Musashi W is sort of a mishmash of every imaginable super robot trope into one story. It follows Yamato Ichidaji, a delinquent fight-loving schoolboy, as he discovers a dark secret about his hometown. Earth has been all but destroyed, 99.9% of humanity is dead, and the sole survivors live in a secret shelter where they were brainwashed to have normal lives to escape the trauma of the apocalypse. The only defense against the attacking aliens are Rogues, piloted humanoid robots.

Megaton Musashi W's plot is basically a nonstop rollercoaster ride of plot twists. There are alien princesses, psychic humans, secret robots, and twists and turns aplenty. If I have one major complaint, it is that the game tends to brush through plot points too quickly. Events and character points can sometimes only get a line or two of dialogue, and it ends up making everything feel rushed, so it's difficult to get invested in the tale.

One of my major problems with the storytelling is how poorly it integrates into the gameplay. The story frequently introduces things that feel like they can and should be important to the gameplay — and then the gameplay doesn't change. You may have a plot about a heavily armored foe that you need to unlock a special weapon to defeat, but in the gameplay, it takes damage until it stops taking damage so the cut scene can play. One mech may require two pilots to work together in perfect unison, and it's supposed to have a distinct movement style, but when controlling it, the machine feels identical. Combined with the rapid way it burns through plot points, it feels like I am watching the anime instead.

At its core, Megaton Musashi is an evolution of Level 5's previous mech games like LBX and Gundam Age. You're thrown into a combat arena against a bunch of enemies, and your goal is to beat the everliving crap out of them so they drop precious loot — so you can get stronger and beat up stronger enemies for better loot. Combat is fairly simple. There's a standard attack button, a ranged attack button, blocks, dodges, and the like. Melee weapons come in a small variety of types, such as sword and shield or dual blade, while ranged weapons can be anything from pistols to bazookas. Enemies all have weaknesses to different weapon types (such as slash or smash), but they're also weak to different elements, such as fire or shock.

In addition to weapons, you also have four customizable special moves, which are iconic special attacks that robot anime is so well known for. You get a pretty comfortable variety, including Rocket Punches, Giant Chest Beams, and turning into a drill and ramming into enemies. Each attack has its own distinct type and element and uses tachyon points, or TP, which is a resource that replenishes naturally as you fight. Stronger moves require more TP, but stronger moves also leave behind a force field. If you step into it, you'll gain a temporary significant stat boost.

You start with one Rogue, but you'll eventually be able to deploy more than one at a time, and each has its own pilot crew. Some mechs require only one pilot, while others require more. You can swap pilots between levels as long as a character isn't pilot-locked, and in battle, you can swap between units as you like. This means you can build a melee-focused robot for slow, tanky foes and then swap to your ranged ally to snipe flying enemies.

The gameplay in Megaton Musashi is straightforward, with battles usually being influenced by your build strength. There is a lot of mech customization in Megaton Musashi. Each robot is built out of a body, arms and legs, and you can mix and match almost freely between the various parts. (Some are limited to certain sizes.) Each part has its own stats, potential skills and ranks that you can unlock. You can equip three melee weapons, three ranged weapons, pilot skills, and different motherboards. You can equip different blocks on the motherboard to modify the stats, and there's an entire separate skill tree aside from that. All parts have loot rarity and ranks tied to your character level, so you're constantly getting newer and stronger parts.

Basically, it's a ton to keep track of. After every stage, you're utterly bombarded with parts for your mech, to the point that I rapidly turned on the game's Auto-Dismantle feature for anything below Rare parts. If you like min-maxing and heavily customizing your machine, you'll be able to spend hours building the perfect robot and hunting down loot. The interface is easy to use, and there are robust auto-build features if you want to get the optimal parts for a build and return to combat.

If I have one core problem with the mech customization mechanic, it takes too long for the game to reach the point that it feels meaningful in visual design or mechanical design. There isn't a huge variety of Rogues, and unlocking the ability to paint or customize your mech takes a shockingly long time. Despite customization being a big deal, it often feels like you're struggling to make a mech look cool, and there are relatively limited options on how to place and customize parts. It's nowhere in the ballpark of Gundam Breaker, but there are plenty of opportunities to create cool robots.

There are also some weird limitations, such as certain parts only working for certain builds that don't look that different. You also can unlock the ability to make certain famous anime robots, like Mazinger Z or Getter Robo, but to use their iconic moves, you have to be using an uncustomized version of the bot. This led me to forgoing Breast Fire or Getter Beam for their "close enough" counterparts so I could have the fun of making a Mazinger with Getter arms.

It also takes a long time before customization matters. You'll get weapons relatively early on. This means you can mash the "attack" button and be fine, and it takes a significant amount of time before it felt worth it to try to match elemental weaknesses. Unlocking new skills and abilities involves a staggeringly huge skill tree where you have to invest heavily to unlock basic mechanics that make the weapons stand out more.

There's a fair bit to do in Megaton Musashi W. There are main story missions and a variety of side-quests that unlock more plot and new items or skills for characters. You can also go on co-op missions to fight strong enemies with allies to acquire precious loot. Alternately, you can go into the PvP mode, where you use special "Coliseum" versions of robots that have different stats and balance. In terms of having things to do, Megaton Musashi W is almost overwhelming.

The thing that gets in the way of having fun with Megaton Musashi W is the relics of its time as a free-to-play (F2P) game. There are a whole lot of little things that are commonplace in F2P titles but feel kind of bad in a paid title. There are a ton of different currencies and resources to juggle that feel bloated. There's a battle pass with daily logins and a separate, premium-only battle pass that you can only get with the deluxe edition. The game throws a weird number of resources at you, and some things break the progression of the story, like allowing you to unlock certain parts before the story makes them available to you. It feels less like a cohesive whole and more like a F2P title with the grinding and microtransactions replaced with a very generous drop system — somewhat akin to Mega Man X DiVE Offline. How much this bothers you may depend a lot on how sensitive you are to the design elements of a F2P game outside of a F2P context, but I'd have rather something more streamlined and cohesive.

It's impossible to fault Megaton Musashi W in the visuals. The mechs are big, beautiful and well animated, and the game looks great and easily leverages its cartoony art style. The non-combat visuals are more basic, using a 2D paper cutout style, but that adds to the charm and feels appropriate. The voice acting, while Japanese only, is quite good, and there's a wide variety of solid music, including songs from the cameo robots. Level 5 almost always knocks it out of the park when it comes to presentation, and it is no different now.

Megaton Musashi W: Wired is a game that has a lot of flaws, and you need to have a genuine love of giant robots to get past them. The gameplay is fun but simplistic, and the story is disjointed enough to be distracting. Add to that the obvious legacy of F2P gameplay, and it is easy to get turned off by the game. However, Musashi can be a lot of fun if you understand the draw of creating a custom robot, hopping into a battle, and hearing an awesome attack name screamed while you shoot rainbow lasers at bad guys.

Score: 7.5/10

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