Review: Mobile Light Force 1 and 2

April 23, 2003 5:01 AM PST

Mobile Light Force 1 and 2 (PSX/PS2/XS Games)
by brandon sheffield

The monstrosities have arrived! Hide the children, here come the worst ports of any shooter for any console.

Mobile Light Force 1: - AKA Gunbird from Psikyo.

Let’s start off on a good note; the gameplay and voices are unchanged. Gunbird is an excellent, though utterly traditional shooter, straight on the tail of the Aero Fighters series. A very solid vertical blast-fest that’s low on experimentation, but high on life. End good notes.

Every element but the gameplay has been soiled by the work of two men from Ohio. Like the over nourished kid you wouldn’t let play with your toys in grade school, the ‘gentlemen’ at XS games have done their level best to get their greasy fingerprints all over this game. A few of the changes:

First offence: Horrid Charlie’s Angels style box art, which is actually credited to a graphics design company, if you can believe it. If you ever meet someone from the Moore Design Group, kick them right where they keep their genitals. It’s the only way they’ll learn.

Second offence: The renaming of characters to match names of staff members, or the product itself. LOOK. I am playing as Juan Suarez. Also I am playing as MLF 2000. And Jason Last. This is what I do.

Third offence: Overuse of the word ‘mirror’. Every story sequence has been removed from the game, replaced by a few words in the manual. Behold my loving word for word transcription of the passage.

The story takes place at the beginning of this century in Europe, when humans finally figured out how to fly. At that time many people searched for the magical mirror Altar, which claims to make any wish of the owner come true. This mirror was stolen many years ago from before the king’s grave, and nobody knows where it may be. As time passed and technology and science had advanced, people forgot about the existence of this magical mirror. So it seemed...

A French archeologist found a piece of the mirror with an inscription that explains how the mirror will make your wish come true. 5 adventurers, each with their own wishes and dreams, set out to look for the mirror. With the ability to soar in the sky they all think they have the upper hand, but what they don’t know is that another big organization is also after the same mirror.

Fourth offence: The removal of the fan art section of Gunbird. Why did they do this? Was it a mistake? Do they not like art? Were they squeezed too tightly by their mothers as lads? If I’m not mistaken, does it not take more effort to remove something than it does to leave it there? Perhaps I don’t understand ‘math.’

Fifth offence: The cutting of all in-game story section. The story made the series what it was!! The goofy dialogue, the great character designs, all removed. As you’ll see in the MLF1 video, all that remains is an awkward pause of sorts. I guess this is what happens when two guys from the Midwest who don’t know Japanese port a Japanese game. Goodbye story, hello…hello what? Hello nothing.

Sixth offence: When you beat the game, a screen comes up, with the letters THE END. That’s all you get. Where’s the damned mirror? It is indeed the end. The end of my faith in humanity. Well that’s that then!

The only other saving grace is that the game is $9.99 – if you don’t have Gunbird, perhaps you should pick it up. But if you value your values, you’d be better off with Gunbird 2, as ported to the Dreamcast by our pals at Capcom.

Mobile Light Force 2 - AKA Shikigami from Alpha System

Also available for the Playstation 2!

These are the words printed across the back of the MLF manual. What does that even mean? Also available for the PS2? For it to be also available there, mustn’t it first be available somewhere else??

God damn. Gunbird I’ll admit is not my favorite series. But Shikigami...this is a game I view as one of the cornerstones in the foundation of a new era for the shooting game. I’ll grudgingly concede Radiant Silvergun as the first. But this is a tangent that I shan’t dwell on.

If you thought Mobile Light Force was bad - they chopped this one straight to hell.

First offence: The removal of the option for turn-to-vertical play. Why would one do this? These are not shooter fans. WHAT ARE THEY? Why did they choose to ruin these games?

Second offence: They put that damned same Charlie’s Angels logo into the game intro. Check the video and see for yourself. Taito -> Alpha System -> MLF2! What the hell? This kind of thing should be illegal.

Third offence: Once again, they removed all story sections, though there’s no odd pause this time round. A pleasant concession, it is not.

Fourth offence: Vocal redubs. Oh that’s right. The characters in Shikigami all have various quips when they powerup, die, meet a boss, et cetera. Bosses themselves have several insults they sling at you. These were all ‘cleverly’ redone with no consideration for the original wording, or for good taste in general. Get your buddies together at the bar and try your best to hide your Midwestern accents, it’s dubbing time! Let’s take a look at a few of the fancy words slung by this lively bunch:

Character quotes:
What a waste! (all characters, when dying)
Such power!
Yipee!! (male, in falsetto)

Enemy quotes:
Your dog (job?) will suffer
Like school in summertime – no class
Ah, the final battle (not the final battle)

It’s painful. The videos I chose are actually far less obnoxious than most of what you’ll hear. But the idea is there.

Fifth offence: Using the same damned box ‘art, again. Two totally different games, rendered the same in the minds of the idle consumer by box art and re-titling.

It’s very odd – in MLF 2, they left the art gallery intact, but changed the voices. In MLF, they removed the art gallery and kept the voices the same. Hmmm...couldn’t I have had both?? Because that would have been great. Though the offenses may be fewer in number for Mobile Light Force 2, I can assure you that the redubbing more than makes up the difference.

It’s a truly alarming duality, because I love Shikigami. I think it’s a fantastic game – allow me to break it down the playstyle for you. In order to level up in the game, you collect coins from downed enemies. You can shoot them normally of course, but you can also exert your spirit force. This makes the coins all come directly to you, and increases their number. But it also slows your character down to about half speed. You’ve got a bomb as well, which clears all bullets. Each character has their own shot pattern, bomb and spirit force.

‘Tension’ makes the points and coin multiplier increase – tension is increased by with nearer proximity to danger, ie bullets or enemies. This makes you intentionally risk your life for bonuses, but you have a myriad of ways in which to do it, and all sorts of ways to limit yourself if you so choose. I love it.

So we’ve got this great multifaceted gameplay paired with the worst damn dub for any shooter ever in creation. Never have I been SO COMPELLED to keep playing a game which made me want to shoot myself in the face so very many times. The dialogue is that jarring.

But hey, if you’re one of those cats who can watch dubbed anime without flinching, you may not even notice. I’m talking about me here. This kind of stuff seriously disables my ability to enjoy a game.

I want to wrap this up, but I’m at a loss for words. I don’t know if I actually want you to buy these games! Some might say that I should stop ragging on these guys. That it’s great to see someone bringing shooters to the US at all. I disagree. The games are better left as imports, where the developers make decent money on them, and you don’t lose your dignity in the exchange.

If you can’t afford to play these games in their original form, do what you have to do. MLF 2 is 14.99 - not a bad price. And Shikigami is a wonderful shooter that I don’t think anyone should be without. But it burns like fire to think that this is what we’ve come to in games. The ports are almost malicious. It’s as though they gathered their two selves around a table and said – “we’ve got some money left – how can we make these games worse?” Their design choices, the cuts, the dubs…they make no sense. I don’t know what planet these XS Games guys came from, but I know I never want to visit.

A word to XS Games. Stop now. Either never touch a game again, or hire me to translate your stuff. Hell, I'll do it for free if you'll just stop.

Brandon Sheffield - I just don't know what to say.

Pros: Gunbird and Shikigami are hidden in here, really!

Cons: The port, the fact that XS Games exists, and may feel inclined to make additional ports.





MLF1 port quality






MLF 2 port quality





Developer - MLF

Developer - MLF 2
Alfa System

XS Games

Release Date
March, 2003


Mobile Light Force

(0:58 - 5.83 MB)

MLF 2 intro horriblocity

(0:29 - 1.24 MB)

MLF 2 gameplay

(0:03 - 470 KB)

MLF 2 - got greedy

(1:06 - 7.12 MB)