Reflections: Gotcha Force

Renting video games from a nearby video store was how I’ve come to know a few cherished titles. Before an abundance of demos and the means of disposable income, video game rentals were the best way to get a taste of a title on your parent’s dollar without the risk of owning a bad game. One title we enjoyed so much that we bought it after renting was Gotcha Force, a low profile game from Capcom released in 2003 for the GameCube.

The games main plot revolves around Gotcha Borgs, toy-like fighters from outer space coming to Earth. You take the role of Kou, the main protagonist, to defeat the Death Force - an army of evil Gotcha Borgs, by teaming up with the allies you acquire throughout the story. The game begins with you controlling G-Red, a machine Borg with a blaster, sword, and a charged laser. As you progress and defeat more Borgs, you will start to collect different kinds to add to your Force. Each Borg requires GF Energy, which is increased throughout the story or preset in multiplayer. Once a player runs out of GF Energy (when their Borgs have all been defeated), then the match is over. Each battle is a third-person-shooter arena with different terrain, though the outer boundaries are square-shaped. They represent various areas of the protagonist’s neighborhood, as well as several supernatural locations. These battles can be solo or team-based.

The Borgs, with the exception of a few cases in the story mode, are toy-sized like Gashapon as has been made popular in Japan. All Borgs also feature small screws and bolts that amplify the toyish nature. Each Borg also belong to a specific tribe such as the ninja, machine, or musha (samurai) tribe. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see teams of Borgs made from one tribe only, though you are free to make teams with all kinds of Borgs.

Outside of combat, the art style is what you would expect from an anime show. Being released in 2003, Gotcha Force resembles something that would appear on a Saturday morning lineup from 4Kids. Even the opening animation sequence of the story mode shares characteristics of a 4Kids-esque show.

The story mode is told through text but there are occasionally audible reactions from the different characters in the story as well as in battle. However, G-Red is the only Borg that has any dialogue or audible sounds during battle. Gotcha Force also features a soundtrack with charm as the music tries to encapsulate the intensity of the fight. It is no symphonic feat, but it is fun and exciting to listen to while playing. I have found myself listening to some of the songs on the soundtrack and felt that they compliment the anime I was watching at the time.

The nostalgia for the art and presentation work together with my feelings for the multiplayer experience. The Borgs and Forces you have collected in the story mode are available to be used here with friends. The action can get rather chaotic quickly as you would expect from four human players as opposed to the game’s AI. The assortment of beams and blasts across the split screens were where many of my memories of Gotcha Force have been had. The one thing that multiplayer could have benefitted from was a free-for-all mode with three or four players.
Gotcha Force was not widely well-received but it has become a cult classic with a very high selling price online (at least $100 on websites like eBay). In my mind, Gotcha Force has aged gracefully because it did not attempt a major graphical feat with the GameCube’s hardware and instead utilizing colors and unique character designs. It would be a pleasure to see Capcom attempt to bring this title back with a sequel that deeply expands on some of the mechanics within and introduce more features to the multiplayer. In an age with older titles being remastered, remade, or even revived, there is no doubt in my mind that Gotcha Force has a chance to reach the ones that loved the original title as well as attract a new generation of fans.