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From the Database of Home of the Underdogs




Copyright 2004, Pyrrho12

The world’s first giant robot (“mecha” in Japanese) Roguelike, GearHead is a fun and addictive open-source Roguelike. The official page explains the best features of the game very well: “GearHead comes equipped with two different ways to control your character: a menu-based system which is similar to [Amiga classic] MechFight, and a keyboard-based system which is similar to roguelike games such as ADOM and Moria. By default the menu system is used when the player character is piloting a mecha, and the keyboard system is used when the player character is travelling on foot. The game engine itself is clock-based. Every possible action takes a certain amount of time. The player enters a command, then the clock advances until the action is completed.”

Similar to Infocom’s unsung classic BattleTech 1, your character in GearHead can engage in tactical battles during their regular RPG gaming. The range of mecha and equipment you can create in the game is astounding – over 100 designs and variants are included. Another thing I really like about the game is the strong emphasis on story. There are dozens of missions you can undertake in the game, ranging from the mundane to the challenging, all given by believable NPCs. Although the lack of a “meta-plot” that ties together these missions detracts from the enjoyment, this is perhaps because the game is still in “beta” stage – and even so it is already highly playable and all the missions finishable. I have spent over 10 hours with it so far, and I feel I have barely scratched the surface of what the game has to offer.

With a unique premise, innovative menu-based interface and clock-based mechanics, and a wide variety of mechas and missions, GearHead is definitely one of the best freeware Roguelikes I have ever come across even at this beta stage. The superb tactical battle design could very well herald the new breed of games: cross-genre Roguelikes. Thanks partly to the game’s open source nature, the development is proceeding very rapidly, with new versions release almost every month. So check out the official site below for the latest version of this highly promising and entertaining RPG. Two thumbs up!

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