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Armed Police Batrider (アームドポリス バトライダー) is a vertically scrolling manic shooter arcade game developed and published by Raizing/Eighting in 1998. The player controls teams of flying jet bikes (Batriders) each with their own pilot; players can choose up to three of nine standard characters plus another nine unlockable characters from the previous Raizing games Mahou Daisakusen and Battle Garegga. Batrider contains up to seven stages along with a large number of secrets, which are either unlockable with codes or DIP switch settings, or hidden within the game itself.
In the year 2004, Manhattan was plagued with unprecedented levels of crime. No measure of law enforcement seemed able to combat the strife and violence, and so a desperate plan was brought forth by GiganTech Cybertronics Corporation. This plan was the artificial island Zenovia, two kilometers south of Manhattan, which would be patrolled by GiganTech's own robotic creations. A rapid exodus from Manhattan to Zenovia resulted.
However, by 2019, the promise of tranquility has not been fulfilled. Even with all the expansions to Zenovia the population influx called for, it has become something of a slum, except for the massive GiganTech headquarters. There have been quarrels over whether or not Zenovia should be regarded as being the jurisdiction of the United States, or just GiganTech. Crime, amazingly, has grown even more rapidly than Manhattan ever knew—partly because the GiganTech machines have been promoting everything EXCEPT law and order. The most horrific aspect, though, is the result of an intelligence investigation from the government...
GiganTech's own executives, both then and now, are actually among the most dangerous criminals the country has ever known. Zenovia, far from being planned as a refuge from violence, was actually a trap and a testing ground for the weapons GiganTech plans to use to become the sole power of the underworld.
Neither police nor armies are willing to commit against the mechanical forces that GiganTech commands and invade Zenovia. Therefore, nine fighters—three police, three convicts, and three psychics—have been drafted as "Zero-Cops", riding the BatRider airbikes against the forces invading Manhattan and charging into Zenovia to take down GiganTech's CEO and his ultimate weapon, known only as "Discharge".
The nine standard characters are D.D, Shorty and Jyuji, the Police Team; Maria, Golden and Strawman, the Psychic Team; and Birthday, Tag-T and Adam, the Criminal Team.
The nine secret characters are Silver Sword, Grasshopper, Flying Baron and Wild Snail from Battle Garegga, and Gain, Chitta, Miyamoto, Bornnam and Car-Pet from the Mahou Daisakusen series.
The game's secret bosses will only appear if (in addition to some other criteria) a particular type of character is alive at the point the boss spawns. Four bosses are from the Mahou Daisakusen series, and three from Battle Garegga; these bosses require a character from their respective game. The other two secret bosses are unique to Batrider, and require a Batrider character.
The player is powered up differently, and coloured accordingly, depending upon which button they are selected with:
- A (shot) powers up shot
- B (bomb) powers up options
- C (option) powers up shot and option, at the expense of speed
- START increases speed, at the expense of shot and option power
When selecting characters, the player can choose Team Select (select one of the three standard Batrider teams), Team Edit (choose any three characters), or Random Edit (choose any three characters at random). A fourth option, Player Select (play all three lives with one character), must be enabled via a code or a dipswitch setting.
With 18 characters and 4 different configurations for each, there are potentially 72 player configurations for Single Character mode, and 59,640 player combinations in Team Edit mode (without taking the player order into consideration, which would make it 357,840).
Gameplay takes place across up to seven stages, with a varying number of bosses depending upon the player selection and whether certain hidden tasks have been performed during gameplay. During Advanced course, it is possible to fight as few as seven or as many as all eighteen of the game's bosses.
Pressing A fires the main Shot and, if the requisite powerups have been collected, the player's Options. Pressing B fires the Bomb, and pressing nothing powers up the Aura, a small energy field at the front of the player which causes damage.
Small and Large Shot powerups, Option powerups and medals drop frequently from popcorn enemies, and fall down off the screen from where they spawn. Small Bomber items are usually found where something on the ground is destroyed, and for every 40 Small Bombers picked up, the player receives a full bomb. If there are Small Bombers stockpiled but no full bombs, then pressing the Bomb button will use the remaining Small Bombers, yielding a shorter or less powerful effect than a full bomb. On rare occasions (usually requiring specific action by the player) a Large Bomber item appears, worth one full bomb.
Allowing exactly three of the same power-up (except Small Bomber) to drop off the screen will result in the next power-up of that type being a Special Power Up. In the case of Shot and Option items, these will power up shot or option to maximum; missing three Large Bomber items gives an Extend, and dropping three Extends gives a Special Extend item which will replenish the player's life stock to full. Dropping exactly five of a particular power-up before picking one up with a Battle Garegga player will grant the player one of several hidden Option formations.
Extra lives are granted every 1,500,000 points; however, Batrider does not automatically grant an extra life when the extend score is reached. Instead, the next popcorn enemy which would drop an item will drop an Extend in its stead.
In addition to selectable difficulty levels via dipswitch, there are also four player-selectable variants of the game:
- Training course lasts for three stages; Manhattan City, one of the three Stage Edit stages below (unless left or right is held while selecting the course), and Highway. The game will automatically use any remaining bombs if the player takes a hit.
- Normal course lasts for five stages; Manhattan City, Sky High/Airport/Sewage System in random order unless Stage Edit is enabled, and finally Highway, as well as Bashinet II's secret boss stage, Colosseum.
- Advanced course is the full game of seven stages; the above, Zenovia City, and Building, as well as two more secret boss stages, Black Heart II's Airport and Bashinet R's Night Flight.
- Special course is a boss rush mode using the Advanced course versions of the bosses, with the same criteria determining which bosses are fought as the other modes. On Japanese versions, it must be enabled via dipswitch.
Bonus medals drop randomly from popcorn enemies, and can also be found in certain enemies' target points (such as helicopters' wings) and revealed in certain parts of scenery by using a bomb. Medals are worth the next value up from the last medal that was collected, from 100 to 10,000 points; if a medal drops off the bottom of the screen, the value is reset to 100.
All enemies have two distinct point values; one given when they are destroyed with Shot or Option, and another given when destroyed with Aura or Bomb. Frequently, one of these point values (usually Aura/Bomb) is significantly higher than the other; for instance, Boredom's green support pods give 30,000 points when destroyed with Aura or Bomb, but only 3,000 for Shot or Option. Destroying an enemy with a Piercing weapon (such as Grasshopper's shot or Gain's options) will always give the player the lower of the two score values. The exact scores for each enemy can be found in the Character Test section of Test Mode.
Bosses usually contain many distinct parts which may not be immediately obvious as targets, or that can be destroyed for no score (or not deployed at all) when another part is destroyed. The boxes on the end of Confrict's arms, for instance, are worth 5,000 points, and will turn into flamethrowers worth 30,000 points if not destroyed after a few seconds; however, if the player destroys the arms before the flamethrowers, they will only receive the points for the arms. Additionally, bosses frequently change attack patterns after specific parts are destroyed; if these are avoided then it is possible to prolong specific attack patterns, usually ones where medal-releasing projectiles are fired. The reverse is obviously true for less beneficent attack patterns.
All shots or options that connect with an enemy increase the score, including invulnerable parts of enemies, or deadzones. To fully exploit a deadzone, players must remain as close to the deadzone as possible, and in the case of characters with Piercing weapons, as close to the top of the screen as possible; both effectively increase the number of bullets hitting the deadzone. Most of the game's exploitable deadzones are on bosses (e.g. Bashinet's second form, Gob-Robo's sides), although all of the bosses in the game will eventually "time out" and leave the screen. This is much more effective if the game's region is set to Japan, as outside of Japan the player's rate of fire is not manually adjustable.
Batrider features a dynamically adjusting rank system which continuously makes the game harder, in a similar fashion to that of Battle Garegga. The rank increases when the player - amongst other things - destroys enemies, collects powerups or medals, or uses a bomb; as such, the rate at which it increases can be controlled to some extent to prevent the game from becoming too difficult. The rank will only decrease when the player grazes bullets or loses a life. The effect of grazing bullets is generally not worth the risk of hitting them, but it is very common for players to intentionally kill themselves, not least since Batrider only allows three lives to be held in stock at once. Picking up an Extend with a full stock of lives gives the player 100,000 points and increases the rank, while suiciding prior to collecting the extend reduces the rank (significantly moreso if the player only has one more life remaining) and gives the player an extra bomb and a half, which will usually make it possible to recoup some if not all of the 100,000 directly.
After playing a credit, the game's starting rank will remain at the same level for the next credit, and each successive loop through the game's attract sequence reduces it slightly. Immediately after the game is booted up the rank will be quite high, and will take some time to lower itself to the minimum level; this is to prevent players from hard rebooting the machine to reset the rank to its minimum level, a frequently-used trick on Battle Garegga machines which prompted complaints from arcade operators due to the board's long bootup time. It is possible to start Batrider at minimum rank by booting the game into the Test mode menu (via dipswitch, or F2 in MAME) and exiting Test Mode with the Start button.
As rank increases, more bullets spawn, some bullets move faster, attack patterns are generally trickier to negotiate, and enemies gain health. The difference between minimum and maximum rank can be easily observed by booting the game into Special version and selecting a boss or stage to play (see below); the Normal course version of the stage or boss will be played twice, once at minimum rank, and again at maximum rank.
Versions and regions
There are two different Japanese versions of Batrider; the later B version adds the ability to control the options of the Battle Garegga planes with the C button (as in the original), and allows for the region to be changed.
If the game's region is set outside of Japan, some minor gameplay alterations occur:
- Menus and endings are shown in English (except for Korea, where menus are in Korean and endings in English).
- Player Select, Guest Players (hidden characters) and Stage Edit are automatically enabled without the need for the respective dip settings or codes.
- Extends are collected automatically every 1,500,000 points, rather than being dropped as items.
- The ability to change bullet colours (with Start+any direction) and bullet speed (Start+A/C), and enable score display (Start+B) is no longer present.
There is also a so-called "Special Version", which can be enabled on any version of Batrider by holding down A, B and C while booting. Amongst other things, Special Version shows some additional information on the title screen, allows the player to pause or slow the game with the Start button, and allows the selection of individual Normal course stages and bosses to practise by moving left or right while selecting Special course.