Fighting and flying with Psychic Force Complete!

Before we get onto the game itself there’s something we need to look at first – the fantastic figures included with the limited edition version of the game! In an effort to sabotage sales of their own game and make things as difficult as possible for everyone, Psychic Force Complete ditched the relatively standard game/limited edition release setup and instead put out five different variants – the game alone, the game bundled with a single Wendy/Emilio/Wong figure, and finally a set with all three. Thanks to a stroke of luck I was able to get the complete Complete set for a very reasonable price, so let’s have a quick gawp at these lovely toys imported collectables before getting stuck into the game proper:

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The figures come in identical packaging and they’re all around 4 1/2 inches high without their generic circular base – Wong’s a little taller and Emilio’s about a mile wide with his wings on but together they do make a nice set. Wendy and Emilio have a dubious and possibly lethal powdery white substance on them which doesn’t seem to want to come off, although as they were all sealed before I started fiddling I assume this is just something that occasionally happens to decade-old plastic. There’s no articulation to them so if Wong and Emilio happens to be your OTP you’re going to have trouble doing anything about that, but for the rest of us they’re detailed enough to feel like a worthy tribute to the series and they make for good bookcase decoration if you’ve got a bit of space free.

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If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of Taito’s psychiccer-battling series this is probably a good place to dish out a bit of history – Psychic Force was first released in 1996 on Taito’s FX-1A arcade hardware (most famous for… um, Psychic Force), with a revised arcade release (titled Psychic Force EX), and the Playstation port (called plain old Psychic Force, but based on Psychic Force EX) all coming pretty much one after the other to reasonable but not overly enthusiastic reception, as a reasonable but not overly amazing game should. Two years after that came Psychic Force 2012 on their PC-based “Taito Wolf” arcade board, a superb refinement of the ideas present in the original that raised Psychic Force from “neat but only really OK” to “fantastic but generally overlooked fighting game” – if it helps at all it’s rather like the difference between the original Guilty Gear and Guilty Gear X, although Taito’s series wasn’t fortunate enough to take off the way Arc’s did.

This hopefully brings us on to 2005’s Psychic Force Complete, containing the original Playstation port of Psychic Force, the previously Dreamcast and PC only Psychic Force 2012, and the all-new Psychic Force 2012 EX, which is exactly the same as the original but with the added bonus of reinstating Brad, Sonia, and Genma from the original, making it the definitive game.

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Eagle-eyed Psychic Force fans might notice that Complete is actually missing the two Playstation-exclusive Psychic Force games, Psychic Force 2 and Psychic Force Puzzle Taisen. The former is essentially “2012 with a few exclusive extra modes and downgraded graphics” and the latter “Puzzle Bobble with Psychic Force characters” - it’s a bit of a shame they’re not included but in all honesty they’re more curious side projects for series fans rather than central pillars of the series, so the chances are if you’re interested you’ve already got them or won’t mind tracking them down. The good news is Complete has a relatively comprehensive gallery mode that’s got a nice selection of rough draft sketches, finished art and the opening movies to choose from with nothing hidden away or needing to be unlocked.

Psychic Force Complete contains what is inarguably the best version of the best Psychic Force game and yet it’s still a little hard to recommend as the three reinstated characters were already playable in Psychic Force 2 and the Dreamcast release is available worldwide with little difficulty or expense. So Complete isn’t the ultimate unmissable collection is perhaps should have been, but if you’d like a one-stop-shop for your flying anime fighting game needs then this set’s readily available on one of the most popular consoles of all time and highly recommended for anyone psychiccer-curious who hasn’t yet dived in to Taito’s series.