Tech Romancer, known as Choukou Senki Kikaioh (超鋼戦紀 キカイオー) in Japan, is a 3D arena fighting game developed by Capcom and released for arcades in 1998 and later ported to the Sega Dreamcast console in 2000. The game draws heavily from the various sub-genres of the Mecha culture.
The player controls a giant robot which is used to fight another robot in one-on-one combat. Tech Romancer is considered a spiritual sequel to Cyberbots: Fullmetal Madness, another Capcom fighting game that also uses mecha and borrowed sprites from the earlier side-scrolling beat em' up game Armored Warriors.
Artwork was done by Sho Sakai and SENSEI (the latter artist also worked on Armored Warriors), and Tech Romancer's original concept and mechanical design was conceived by renowned mechanical design and mecha designer Shoji Kawamori. The robots were designed by Studio Nue, who were responsible for the mecha designs for many renowned anime series including The Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Gunbuster, and Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory.
Battles take place mostly on a flat 3D plane, with buildings and other terrain features scattered around. Destroying the terrain (by attacking or walking through them) releases power-ups, which include three weapons (vary between each character/mecha), armor or life powerups, and the Hero Mode powerup, which increases the power of your mecha's attacks, and may also unlock additional abilities or moves.
Rather than rounds, the matches are decided by the life meters of the fighters. Each fighter has two life meters, and is destroyed when the second one is depleted. In addition, each mecha gets an armor gauge that, when broken by consistent brute attacks, lowers the mecha's defense and makes it harder to recover from attacks received.
Each mecha has at least two super attacks, as well as a Final Attack, which is usable when the opponent is down to the last 50% of their second lifebar. This attack, when activated and successfully connected, automatically destroys the opponent, winning the battle.
The game is primarily played in two modes: Story Mode, and Hero Challenge Mode. The Dreamcast version also had minigames that could be played on the VMU for points.
Each mecha has its own story mode, which plays out like an anime series, with each battle broken up by an episode title, eyecatch, and dialog scenes before and after each battle. Each mecha has its own story (where it is the star of its own show), and decisions made in the dialog scenes, as well as the conditions under which a battle is won, can cause some stories to branch out and have multiple paths and endings. The other mecha and characters naturally make appearances, but their role may vary from their actual origins to fit the "star" mecha's story.
Hero Challenge Mode
An "Arcade-style" mode where the player fights through each of the major mecha and bosses. Various hidden mecha and pilots found in the game can only be used in Hero Challenge Mode. In the Dreamcast version, points earned in Hero Challenge Mode and the VMU minigames could be used to purchase hidden characters including boss characters and movies.
In Japan the game is called "Choukou Senki Kikaioh For Matching Service" because of its online functionality.
The setting of Tech Romancer takes place in a far future of Earth, where advanced technology have made things calm and decent for the citizens of Japan and the rest of the world. However, the peace doesn't last long as an evil alien tyrant named Goldibus invades the planet with its loyal followers and seeks to conquer the world while enslaving the human race with an emotionless iron fist. An unlikely group of heroes band together to fight against the threat of Goldibus with their own unique mecha robots and all of them won't rest until Goldibus is defeated and the world is safe from the imminent danger.
- Armor Knight G (Grand) Kaiser (Kikaioh in Japan) - The protagonist of the game. This Super Robot attacks with rocket punches, bombs, and a heat beam in its chest. Piloted by Junpei Todoroki. G. Kaiser is based on classic super robots, particularly Mazinger Z and Great Mazinger. G. Kaiser makes an cameo appearance in PTX-40A's ending in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars.
- Super Defense Armour Dixen - A mecha armed with a shoulder-mounted beam cannon, grenades, and three remote-controlled beam guns. It can also switch between a beam rifle and a bazooka. Piloted by either Nakato Farland or Halma Frockheart. Dixen is heavily based on the "real robot" anime franchise Mobile Suit Gundam. Even Dixen's Final Attack is a direct homage to the RX-78-2 Gundam's "Final Shooting" scene, with Dixen even concealing it's head and left arm, which were destroyed on the Gundam in said scene.
- Pulsion - An Ultraman-like hero/heroine who transforms into a mecha to fight evil. Pulsion's true identity is either the male Kai or the female Kei. Pulsion was originally a servant of Goldibus who had its memory erased in a fight with Diana-17. Kai has the choice of continuing to fight for justice or return to the evil side, while Kei eventually has to fight an evil version of herself. In Hero Mode, Pulsion adopts a different fighting style that makes it resemble Evangelion Unit 01 in Berserk Mode.
- Strategic Variable Fighter Rafaga - A transformable fighter, Rafaga can transform from a jet fighter to GERWALK and/or Soldier (mecha) mode. Its pilot, Simon Harvard, is a ladies' man who falls in love with the alien pilot Yale. The Rafagas are heavily based on the VF-1 Valkyries from the real robot series Super Dimensional Fortress Macross. Simon Harvard himself appears to be based on both Maximillion Jenius, and Roy Focker from the same anime.
- Phantasm Unit Twinzam V - Another Super Robot, it can transform between two forms depending on which is dominant. It is alternately piloted by Daichi and his older sister Sora, the two being children who seem to think they're dreaming this all up. Twinzam V is heavily based on the Combining Robot anime, particularly Getter Robo.
- The Messenger of Beauty and Justice Diana-17 - Diana-17 is a fighting mecha piloted by Reika Amamiya, a student at a girls' academy who is initially the first person to know of Goldibus' plans for invasion in the midst of a war. She tries to gather the other heroes in order to resist the invasion.
- Heavy Armour Tank Wise Duck - This huge weapon-laden mecha is piloted by an entire crew, consisting of Gonzales (Commander), Arvin (Combat), Ricky (Gunner), Thomas (Pilot), and Herman (Sonar/Communications).
- Magical Patched Robot Bolon - This patchwork robot, created out of the parts of several buildings, is the creation of Pollin, a Magical girl-type person who appears to be only about eight years old, though she can age herself to be roughly 17. She has a crush on Junpei, and ends up fighting several of the female pilots in the game over him in her storyline. She is actually the daughter of Goldibus.
- Mariou Shogun Gourai - A huge red, Samurai-style mecha, complete with sword. Seemingly one of Goldibus' generals, pilot Shadow Red has an agenda of his own. In reality, he is Mamoru Todoroki, the father of Junpei. Shadow Red is notably voiced by Shuichi Ikeda. In Dixen's story, Shadow Red is seen as Dixen-pilot Nakato's rival. This is a reference to Mobile Suit Gundam, in both the Dixen's inspiration by the anime, and Shuichi Ikeda's role as Char Aznable, the masked, red Mobile Suit piloting rival to the RX-78-2 Gundam's pilot Amuro Ray.
- Strategic Variable Fighter Rafaga (Amuritta Type) - This red fighter is piloted by Amuritta, Simon Harvard's long-suffering wingman. Amuritta is a much more of a professional soldier than her commanding officer, but also harbors a small crush on him. She closely resembles Claudia LaSalle, who was the girlfriend of Roy Focker in the Macross series.
- Dark Pulsion - The evil version of Kai.
- Variant Armor Blodia II Custom - The main mecha from Armored Warriors and Cyberbots: Full Metal Madness. Blodia is piloted by Jin Saotome.
- Quvearl - An Octopus-like bio-construct controlled by Yale, a female alien (one of many, as it turns out) who ends up falling for Simon Harvard after he stops her in a battle. Its remote bit attacks and design resemble the Elmeth from Mobile Suit Gundam.
- Gamda - A massive stone golem that seems to be made out of several temples with a huge eye in the middle. It's controlled by Arekshim (voiced by Ryūsei Nakao), an alien ruler with an Egyptian theme. His design is also seemingly inspired by Kaijuu.
- Goldibus - The Ultimate Evil who serves as both the main antagonist of the series and the final boss of the game. Goldibus has two forms, in which his second form is more powerful and that he also has two menacing special attacks, unlike his less ominous first form. His design is inspired by the Great General of Darkness from the Mazinger anime metaseries, combined with Mechanical Beasts from the same series. Voiced by Chikao Ōtsuka.
- Dr. Todoroki - An elderly expert scientist who happens to be the grandfather of Junpei and the father of Mamoru. He and Mamoru had helped develop G. Kaiser together from within an underground factory in order to be used against Goldibus and his invading forces. He dies after introducing Junpei to G. Kaiser and enabling him to control and utilize it from within G. Kaiser's storyline.
- Dr. Tatsumi - An expert scientist and friend to Junpei's father and grandfather. He takes over in G. Kaiser's development and helps Junpei and his friends fight Goldibus from within G. Kaiser's storyline. In Gourai's storyline, however, he is a traitor, who tried to kill Junpei's parents. Shadow Red swears to get his revenge on him, but he is killed by Arekshim first.
- Saori - Dr. Tatsumi's daughter, and Junpei's would-be girlfriend. Suffers a lot of misunderstandings in Bolon's storyline.
- General - Commander of the armed forces from within both Nakato and Halma's versions of Dixen's storyline.
- Chueng-Meng - A crewman on Nakato's ship from within Nakato's version of Dixen's storyline. She's very close to Nakato and worries about him a lot.
- Raeed - One of Halma's classmates from within Halma's version of Dixen's storyline. Although he's not as skilled a pilot as Halma, he still looks after her when she's in trouble.
- Commander - The leading officer of the E.D.F. (Earth Defense Forces) from within both Kai and Kei's versions of Pulsion's storyline.
- Mr. Shima - The assistant of the E.D.F. Commander and second-in-command of the Earth Defense Forces from within both Kai and Kei's versions of Pulsion's storyline.
- Goro - A young Japanese boy who befriends Kai and Kei from within both Kai and Kei's versions of Pulsion's storyline.
- Ivonne - A beautiful blonde female Communications Officer in Simon and Amuritta's unit from within Rafaga's storyline.
- Maki - A childhood friend and classmate of Reika who goes to the same girls' academy as her from within Diana-17's storyline.
- Shizuka - A snobbish and dismissive classmate of Reika who goes to the same girls' academy as her from within Diana-17's storyline. She greatly resembles Karin Kanzuki, a character from the Street Fighter series.
- Official Japanese site (arcade) (archive)