Mars Matrix is an addictive, satisfying shooter for the Dreamcast.
Mars Matrix Review
When I heard that Mars Matrix had finally shipped, I moved my ass to my local EB (the only game store in town, unfortunately) to pick it up. When I arrived, I demanded a copy. The sales associate informed me that they only had been allotted one copy of the game, and that that copy was reserved. He did, however, say that since that individual had yet to even call them back about it, he could sell me the reserved copy.
So I took Mars Matrix home (I’m so evil), kicked one of my roommates off the tv, and inserted Matrix into my Dream-machine. I shall remember for a long time what happened during the next few hours. I was literally mesmerized by what Capcom had brought to us stateside gamers. What I found on that little GDRom was a game packed full of features, insane but beautiful bullet spreads, a nice soundtrack, and some of the best gaming I’ve had on the DC so far.
The story takes place on Mars. At this point in time, we had colonized Mars. They have their own government and life is productive and peaceful. Unfortunately, though, Mars’ government is nothing more than a mere puppet of Earth’s. An ominous transmission is received on Earth, declaring Mars’ independence. Earth sees this as a threat and dispatches a giant fleet of experimental aircraft to Mars to maintain their grasp on the planet. Sure, Matrix’s plot is fairly simple, but do you really need an original storyline when you’ve got a shooter that’s this bitchin? I think not.
The gameplay is fairly simple enough, featuring just 3 basic attacks between 2 different ships. Both ships control in the same manner, but the red fighter has a handy wave of shots and moves moderately fast, while blue one is a bit faster and has a more concentrated line of fire. The three weapons you have your disposal are the regular shot, a Piercing cannon, and the GHB. What’s the GHB, you ask? Why, it’s the most useful weapon in the game. You have a GHB meter at the bottom of the screen that builds up over time. The meter needs to be full before you can even use it. The attack absorbs all of your enemies bullets around you and you can either fling them at your incoming attackers or you can use them all in an explosive attack. You can use it moderately (for that split-second help through an impossible maze of bullets) or just go all out and hold it in to damage nearly everything onscreen.
This DC port of the arcade version also features the ability to use some buttons for auto-firing. While this sounds like it’d be a major help, it really isn’t. The game still features a slight lag while switching between the GHB and the other two attacks.
The game also features a really cool combo system. Basically, some enemies will ‘drop’ these experience cubes after you defeat them. Each one is worth only so much, but if you collect a good number of them in a small amount of time, they act as a score multiplier. This allows you to basically do any kind of combo you like. I found Matrix’s combo system to be a whole lot funner than Do Donpachi, which seems much more structured after played Matrix.
As you play the game, your score rises (naturally), and Matrix keeps track of it. All of your points are added to a running tally, and also to a current tally. The reason? Matrix also features a really sweet shop where you can trade in points you’ve earned during the game to unlock certain features like Score Challenge Stage 1 (where you only fight through stage 1), more ships and credits (and eventually, Free Play), a bunch of really sweet options to mess up the game’s state (extra combo time? why not?), and even Strategy videos that show you how to get a really decent score and make it through this game in one piece. I find that the shop’s a great addition, adding a great deal of hours of replay value to this already great game.
While the game’s overall graphical presentation is nothing mind-blowing, the bullet patterns are really pretty. I actually had visitors complement the game’s pretty colors. Matrix is one of the DC’s best-playing shooters (if not THE best), and the graphics aren’t so appalling that they’ll turn you away, either. Pretty, pretty colors. :)
Matrix’s soundtrack is pretty decent. While I’m only aware of it once in a while, I’ve yet to turn down or turn off the tv’s volume. With the amount of time I’ve put into this game so far, I’d have to say that that’s a great compliment.
Well, I’m off to go play more Mars Matrix. Which is actually the reason why this review is running so late. I just can’t stop playing yet. Not yet. I’m still in shock that this game came out for just $20. God bless Capcom.
Am I glad I purchased Mars Matrix? Hell yeah! Will I be playing it for a while? Most definitely. Though, I do feel really guilty about taking that guy’s reserved copy.
One of the longest lasting, satisfying shooters ever made.
-Chakan, May 2001
Mars Matrix gameplay video
We don’t have any Mars Matrix wallpapers. If you do, then please submit them!
You can find a scan of the instruction manual here.
A 2-CD soundtrack for Mars Matrix and Giga Wing 2 was released in Japan on January 11th, 2001 by Suleputer (セルピュータ) for ¥ 3,360. It’s official title is マーズ・マトリックス&ギガウィング 2 ― オリジナル・サウンドトラック (Catalog # CPCA-1050~1 ). Note that on the Mars Matrix disk, tracks 7 and 8 were switched from the tracklisting on the back.
-The header art was done by GuitarAtomik.