Developer RocketPunch Games displays a clear love of all things mecha with Hardcore Mecha, a side scrolling mission-based action shooter that tells a surprisingly engaging story. Taking obvious inspiration from the likes of Gundam and just about any other mecha anime that you can think of, it's a tale that's packed with cliches and twists that you'll see coming a mile away -- but that doesn't stop it from being a heartfelt ode to the giants of the genre. The story has some genuinely great moments, punctuated by slick animation and cool character design.
Seeing the single player campaign through will only take you a few hours, but levels are excellently designed and varied. There are some minor platforming elements at points, but the real meat of the title comes in the form of combat. Your mech is capable of blasting, smacking, and boosting, while the ability to angle your aim and make use of various weapons gives the game a rewarding difficulty curve. Controls are tight and finding victory is very satisfying, particularly against some of the title's more troubling bosses. It's an incredibly tough game at times, but an easy mode presents an optimal way to learn the ropes or just enjoy the story.
The campaign alone is worth playing, but Hardcore Mecha's extras give the package a real boost. Once you're done with the main missions (which can be replayed at any time), you unlock Simulation Mode, which pits you against a never-ending horde of enemies. Shooting them down nets you currency that you can then use to buy upgrades and new mechs for the simulation, resulting in a fiendishly addictive grind. On top of that, there are local and online multiplayer modes. The former can be quite good fun with the right opponent, but we struggled to find other players in the latter.