The nice thing about the Switch is that it’s suited to a variety of experiences. You’ve got your longform adventures like Xenoblade Chronicles 2, but you’ve also got your titles that work well both as a handheld game and on the bigger screen, like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Finally, there are some games that are best off staying on the small screen, both in terms of graphics and gameplay. We’ve got one of those today with Damascus Gear: Operation Osaka, a mech-themed dungeon-crawler from Arc System Works that’s great in small doses.
In the far future (and some time after the previous game in this series, Operation Tokyo), the city of Osaka is recovering from attacks by mecha corrupted by a virus called RAGE. Contemporary Osaka largely exists as Cosmpolis, a civilization built on a series of moving plates. Within those plates is a dungeon filled with RAGE-infected machines, and as a mech pilot loaded with debt, your job is to get in there and clean the place out for fun and profit. Along with that, you’ll take your customized mechs into the arena, striving to rise through the ranks for the biggest possible payday.
Dungeon-crawling and arena-battling alike consist of driving your trusty mech around in an isometric perspective, blasting your foes all the way. Success earns you money and experience points, allowing you to pay off your debt, purchase new parts to supplement what you find in the dungeon and improve your pilot’s statistics. Arena battles play out like boss fights, testing the quality of your build, and there’s actual bosses running around in the dungeon as well.
As with most games of this nature, parts tend to be slightly randomized, incorporating various bonus traits that can make or break your mech build. Various types of mech work well enough, from heavy bruisers to light and fast speedsters; I found myself particularly fond of speedsters with a bent toward avoidance. Customizing your mech isn’t super deep beyond choosing weapons that suit your taste and maximizing the stats you’re pushing for, but I appreciated that it’s possible to color your mech however you’d prefer just for the fun of it. It’s the little things, right?
Operation Osaka was originally a Vita game, so don’t expect too much graphical splendor here. Everything is…well, blocky is probably the best descriptor. Still, that also means that the game runs well enough on Switch to not cause any issues, so if you’re fine with PS2-level graphics then there’s not much else to complain about. As mentioned, you’re probably best off playing this in handheld mode as the smaller screen was how this game was meant to be played.
It’s not going to be game of the year or anything, but as a straightforward mech-themed dungeon crawler Damascus Gear: Operation Osaka gets the job done. That little tingle in the back of your brain when you find an upgrade or defeat a powerful foe is very much present and accounted for. On hybrid hardware like the Switch, that just might be all you need, especially when you’ve only got a little time here and there to make progress.