青の6号: Time & Tide (DC) – Game Review

Please Read First:
This is a detailed, objective review of the game. I purchased a copy of this game in 2002, via an online store. The game took me about 20 hours to complete on the first run, with a good amount of time spent trying to figure out the Japanese instructions. I’ll be following up with a supplementary guide/help page for the game in future, as well as a movie summary.

 

Story & Plot

The story in 青の6号: Time & Tide (DC) takes place before the anime, sometime between Hayami’s departure from Blue Fleet (after Katsuma’s apparent demise) and till the start of OVA Episode 1. It focuses on his adventures as a freelance salvager at Shin Sekai City (SSK). Without spoiling too much in this post, what I can say is that even without an understanding of Japanese, the plot is very interesting, with a good amount of mystery, suspense & twists – much more than what was seen in the OVA obviously. The new characters featured are believable in the context of the BS6 universe, and become well-developed over time. Definitely memorable. There were certain scenes and plot points that weren’t handled too well unfortunately, such as the death of a key character.
Grade = 8.5/10

Graphics, Controls & FMVs

For a DC game, the graphics are above average and very crisp. Animation of the characters as well as your ship during the mission sequences are smooth and completely devoid of flickers/clipping. The terrain and enemies tends to look a little dull and ugly up-close, but the same problem is faced with similar games e.g. Ace Combat. 
The game designers really devoted much effort to making the salvaging/exploration part of the game realistic. From the way your Grampus moves underwater and responds to ballast controls (and the inertia elements), it really feels as though you are in the cockpit of the machine itself. Controlling of the Grampus is easy to master, although it can get challenging trying to attack enemies, as they tend to move and turn fast. This is offset somewhat by the high durability of your ship and the strength of your weapons. 
The FMVs were a real treat, amounting to about 20-30 minutes of new animations that any BS6 fan would find very pleasing. We also get to see Blue 6 actually fight the Ghost Ship.
Grade = 7.5/10

Gameplay

Gameplay can be divided into two modes – Simulation & Interaction. Simulation mode has you piloting the Grampus in various underwater environments, fighting off creatures and salvaging items for cash, or locating special areas (underwater steam vents, sunken pirate ships etc). Interaction mode occurs in between your salvaging operations, where you will be given the option of exploring areas of SSK city, talk to people for clues/gossip, stock up/upgrade your Grampus, and undertake new missions from the guild house. Needless to say, this part of the game plays much like a RPG, but is very linear.
Simply put, this game is easy and fun to play, save for just one HUGELY annoying mission. Your Grampus can take quite a beating, and is fully repaired everytime you make a ‘pit stop’ at your carrier ship to re-arm, deposit loot etc. The money rewards from the salvage missions are plentiful and more than sufficient, unless you’re a wanton spender or blatantly wasting ammunition (which has to be bought). The numerous enemies you encounter are easy to defeat, even in large numbers. The bosses and final missions are a little more challenging, but nothing you can’t handle after a few tries. ‘Super’ weapons, engine and sub parts are also available as secretly salvagable items in the later part of the game.
One major flaw however is the predictability of the salvaging operations. Though you are supposed to use your sonar to detect salvageable items (marked as green dots on your radar), the game is designed in such a way that there would ALWAYS be enemies lurking/spawning around such items, thereby forcing you to expend ammo to kill them off first. And because ammo costs money, this is a rather lame way of inducing cost into your salvaging operations. It also makes finding items too easy in most cases – just check and see if the area has enemies lurking about.
Grade = 7.5/10

Sound & Voice Acting

Voice acting was good. Not Metal Gear Solid quality, but certainly not even close to being as bad as trainwrecks like House of the Dead. Hayami, Iga and Verg sound exactly like they did in the anime. The sound effects are sharp, clear and well chosen; appropriate to the aquatic setting of the game.
Grade = 8/10 

Music

All the music tracks in the game were composed by THE THRILL i.e. the same band that did the jazzy score for the OVA, so its very much a matter of personal taste. Those who found the music in the anime too odd and unfitting would likewise not be too taken by the music in this game. But for everyone else (like myself), the music is very pleasant to listen to, and it really gives you the feeling of being in the Blue Submarine world. Notable tracks include the Ghost Ship’s attack on SSK city (a semi-remix of the Blue Dome attack score) and the awesome Time & Tide theme song. Some tracks however tend to get annoying, due to them being overused e.g. the underwater ‘enemy encountered’ battle theme.
Grade = 7.5/10

Extras/Goodies/Replay Value etc.

A music player, FMV viewer and sound effects browser is available under options mode. The music & sound effects browser is unlocked only after completing the game once, while the FMV viewer is updated as the game progresses. The game’s replay value is above average – depending on your performance on your first run, you are rewarded with a certain number of ‘super’ items (e.g. a heavy torpedo launcher that lets you equip the most powerful torpedoes, or a super fast engine unit) that would be available on your next playthrough. Other than that however, you probably won’t be playing the game again for the 3rd time in a row.
Grade = 7/10

Overall verdict = 7.5/10

BS6: Time & Tide is IMO a decently made game that was not hastily released in order to cash in on the popularity/fame of the BS6 OVA series at that time. As a game by itself, it was definitely worth forking out US$70 for (at its time of release). Dreamcast games are almost always fun, and this is no exception. A pity the console didn’t last very long after the release of the fault-prone PS2. If you’re a serious fan of Blue Submarine No. 6 however, then this title is a MUST buy, seriously! There are still copies of it going for anywhere from 6,000 to 13,000 YEN on Ebay and Amazon, and its only going to get more expensive. Not sure if ROMs of this game exists, but why cheat yourself?

Summary

+ Soundtrack composed by the THRILL
+ Excellent FMVs and voice acting
+ Atmosphere and simulation of the underwater missions is very well done
+ Engaging story & plot

A little repetitive and predictable at times
Enjoyment of the game and its plot hampered considerably if you don’t know Japanese
Absolutely no mention of Mutio or Kino (for their respective fans to take note)

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~ by ticktank on August 21, 2008.

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