The Ill Communication

Trap Gunner

Developer: Racdym
Publisher: Atlus
N.A. Release: September 30, 1998

Box Quote: "Are you ready?!"

Movies have taught us important life lessons we should take to heart. Some of these include (1) don’t split-up the group while in a haunted mansion (2) never travel back in time and (3) by no means perform genetic engineering because the outcome is never good. Ignoring the last one, Trap Gunner involves having half the cast of characters injected with a prototype drug known as Cell-147 which, and as you’d might expect, includes some negative results.

Everyone involved works for GAIN, an evil organization who has employed them to do some heinous stuff. All are agents with specialties like assassinations, counter-assassinations, espionage, and demolition. Stilb, the leader of GAIN, has some trust issues and feels the agents may soon interfere with his plans, so he individually convinces each one to kill the other agents. But he’s right to be paranoid as each of them has their own personal score to settle with their employer.

For Police Lieutenant John Bishous, his partner Dyn went missing while investigating GAIN; Green Berets Lou Riche’s parents were killed by an executive of GAIN; and Shinobi Tenrou Ugetsu had his village destroyed with GAIN as the primary suspect. In addition we have Van Raily, an elite assassin; Tico, an android controlled by GAIN; and Abdoll Relin, a mutant created by GAIN due to the effects of Cell-147. All are looking for blood and are willing to kill each other to get what they want: vengeance.

Each level has the player pitted against another agent. You have within the allotted time to kill the opponent by setting traps throughout the level. Traps include land mines, bombs, switches (detonators), pits, poison gas, and panels which fling the enemy uncontrollably in a preset direction. Each agent starts out with only three types of traps, but more can be acquired while in play.

When a trap is set, you can see your own but you cannot see the enemy’s. Step on one, and you’ll be blown sky-high. To circumvent this you can search for traps by scanning the area around you, and if one is discovered, you can disarm it by entering a code before its short timer reaches zero. If you incorrectly enter the code or if your opponent shoots you while trying to defuse the trap…BOOM!

Flowing in the same way as a fighting game would, the main menu for Trap Gunner allows the player to select between modes like Story (arcade), VS CPU (single match, 1 player), and VS Man (single match, 2 player). Next is the character select screen followed by level select. Story mode has the player battle through the roster of GAIN agents, followed by a mini boss, and then the final boss. And speaking of, the final battle is one doozy of a match as there’s an arsenal of weapons you need to claw your way through before you can even touch the boss, and then you have to go further in because the stage begins with all your traps stripped away. In addition, when you defeat an opponent, it does the same thing as fighting games do where your character is shown doing a winning pose with a caption of a quote he or she is saying to their defeated adversary. It’s simplistic, but gets the jobs done.

Since the levels are mapped out as grids, the environments are blocky by design, giving the impression like each level is a giant board game. The stages are squared, the paths are squared, and objects are squared. Stages are tiered with elevated areas connected with platforms allowing players to take cover behind when being fired at. The reason why the stages are built like this is because only one trap can be placed per square (or panel) on the grid, which does help in keeping things simple when it comes to placing traps and for searching for them, but at the expense of highly detailed environments.

Having been released in 1998, which is said by many as one of the most impressive years for gaming, it might also be the reason why it was largely ignored by the press as there were larger games coming out around the same time such as Metal Gear Solid, StarCraft, Ocarina of Time, and Half-Life, so it’s no surprise that smaller games (and with no legacy) like Trap Gunner were pushed to the wayside. But like movies it has its cult following of fans and has an appeal with multiplayer sessions when played at parties. So while it may have been shunned by critics and did not earn any rewards, gamers who talk about Trap Gunner will hear praises from those who’ve played it.

Posted on: April 29, 2016