Have You Played… Shogo: Mobile Armor Division

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Monolith released Blood in 1997. It instantly became one of my favourite games, the hammy mixture of gore, horror-comedy and Build engine destructibility the perfect cocktail for my teenage mindset. A year later, the studio released another FPS game that I didn’t look forward to nearly as much due to its anime mech theme, which appealed a whole less than Evil Dead fan fiction had. It turned to be a fine game though, going by the name Shogo: Mobile Armor Division.

Along with Looking Glass classic Terra Nova, Shogo is my favourite non-MechWarrior armoured combat game of the nineties. There are on-foot sections as well as in-mech blasting, and even though the whole thing doesn’t hold up particularly well, it’s precisely the kind of game I’d love to see revisited. With tech that showed off the scale of destruction and brought in some weighty physics to emphasise the struggle involved in piloting a beastly biped, Shogo could be magnificent.

That said, Monolith revisited Shogo in spirit with F.E.A.R. 2’s stompy machines. I hated those sections.

I haven’t revisited Shogo for a long time and of all the first-person games I remember from 1998 – the year of Thief and Half Life, among others – Shogo may well have aged the worst. The fond memories evaporate almost immediately when I look at the screenshots and I fear that actually trying to play would be disappointing in the extreme.

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  1. Hunchentoot says:

    Hooded Claw!

  2. dongsweep says:

    I played the demo many times off of a PC Gamer magazine disk. I always wanted to get the game but for some reason I never did. I still remember loving that silenced Mac-10.

    • MOOncalF says:

      On replay I found the movements rather floaty and it also featured certain Rank Utter Bastard AI Snipers if I recall correctly… Still a very fond memory with it’s story heavy mech/fps split that overlapped enough to make it all feel like the same world. That cheesy theme song! A strange gem that really put Monolith on the map for me.

  3. RaunakS says:

    Aww, I loved F.E.A.R. 2 instagib mechs. They were delightfully big and powerful and I loved the fact that I could just get out at any time and explore the landscape. It was a pretty good game that one, the school level scared me so much that I had play without glasses to reduce the impact. If only the 3rd game were anywhere near as good.

    • Razumen says:

      Yeah I loved the Mech parts in FEAR, you were just absurdly powerful and it was a lot of fun, sure you didn’t have the mobility or range of weaponry as in Shogo, but even considering that, I don’t know how the author could have hated them that much.

  4. vorador says:

    Played the demo, never got the final game. When GoG came around to exist i bought it and played a few hours.

    It has definitely not aged well. But is still somewhat enjoyable if you’re willing to compromise.

  5. Aerothorn says:

    Having played this for the first time two years ago, I found it actually help up quite well. I mean, it’s clearly archaic, but it is so without pretension it’s sort of charming, and one could already see the humor that would characterize NOLF emerging. But more importantly, it’s fast. Really, really fast. By that I don’t just mean in the Quake sense of “you move fast,” but that the TTK for enemies is absurdly low, the guns have a crazy firing rate, everything is exploding all the time. But also the plot hurdles along, changes between infantry and mech – very little in the way of hunting for keycards. It’s a very, very easy to play adrenaline rush in a way that few modern games are.

  6. Samuel Bass says:

    I really enjoyed this on my P400 / Voodoo II gaming setup back in the day, although I was never entirely convinced that I was a giant mech rather than an FPS dude stomping through tiny cities. I remember being really impressed by the projected cloud shadows and enjoying the story as pure, somewhat charming western 90’s mecha anime fandom.

  7. Yukiomo says:

    Shogo’s theme song is pretty much the best thing ever. When I found the stereo in the first FEAR game that just keeps playing Shogo’s theme song, I was really charmed.

    The game itself was also quite fun. Shogo was the one FPS that I could beat anyone I knew in in multiplayer. Don’t really know why.

    • pilotneko says:

      The intro song is awesome. I loved it when I was a kid (still love it).

  8. Player1 says:

    I loved this game to bits. Played it several times, even multiplayer, it was awesome. I still like the graphic style, even though the player characters were quite off. Would definitely play it again, if it works on Windows 10.

  9. Turkey says:

    Monolith had a rough transitional period going into full 3D, and I don’t they quite got a good feel for it until NOLF. But Shogo’s still kind of a cool relic that shows how much more creative Monolith was than most of their contemporary fps developers.

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    Herzog says:

    Shogo was great fun. Never replayed it since it came out. Played Blood 2 shortly after it and it was such a disappointment.

  11. Premium User Badge

    Lars Westergren says:

    I bought it and played it through when it launched, didn’t understand what all the rave reviews were on about at all. A sluggish corridor FPS, with a very perfunctory story.

    Ending credits easter egg: The teenage mech pilot calls the bartender a bitch for not selling alcohol to him and shoots her with a rocket launcher point blank, gibbing her. Ha-haa?

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      SHOGO is many things, but ‘slugging’ certainly isn’t one of them. It’s, in many places, TOO fast-paced. Also pretty responsive, I have to say. As for ‘corridor shooter’, I found its levels to be pretty varied and well-made, with a great many big, open areas. I’m genuinely, not-sarcastically wondering if you’re remembering the right game.

      • Razumen says:

        Yeah, it’s definitely not a corridor shooter in any respect, so I don’t know why he’d say that.

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        Lars Westergren says:

        Hmm, well it is a possibility. Literally the only level I can remember clearly is the first one, and that was just a walk through a valley. Perhaps late levels opened up, I’ll take your word for it.

        I’m pretty sure I thought combat was rather slow moving, at least when you are in the mech.

  12. JB says:

    I was thinking about Shogo only yesterday. Specifically the lovely spiral of the Bullgut launcher.

  13. SomeDuder says:

    Yea, was a cute little game that didn’t give a fuck about how a mech was supposed to work. Unless it’s one of those chinese mechs that seem to work on some magical physics and commands that you shout.

    I don’t know. All I can remember is that you could shoot a kid in some sort of police station. Instant game over of course, but still, sp00ky shit.

  14. Vedharta says:

    Woah, theres a blast from the past. For obscurantalist points. I actually finished this on the…Amiga port of it!

    Yes, this had a Amiga port. seriously :-D

  15. Spacewalk says:

    I really really liked Shogo at first but they screwed up by making the giant robots feel like really big people instead of proper giant robots so I dropped it in favour of Armored Core.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      I don’t particularly feel that the Armoured Core titles that were its peers did a much better job, to be honest. It got there, though.

      • Spacewalk says:

        Armored Core was pretty clunky which suits giant robots well. Oh man those controls, the biggest battle was in that game was not letting your thumb submit to a split-direction digital pad whilst you slowly aimed your guns up and down to hit enemies who spent most of the time out of your view. Maybe I should’ve said the Ghost In the Shell game but that’s tanks. Maybe I should’ve said Virtual On which is anime robots out the arse and is probably the fastest thing anyone’ll ever play but it’s too removed from Shogo and AC that I didn’t think it would’ve been a good one to bring up.

  16. Leadprophet says:

    “Shogo is my favourite non-MechWarrior armoured combat game of the nineties.”

    Starsiege, you utter heretic. Starsiege was the correct answer.

  17. geldonyetich says:

    Shogo was intersting, but kludgy and utterly unremarkable outside of the interesting missile vapor spirals and the fact you’re technically supposed to be in a giant mech.

    It was no NOLF, that’s for sure.

  18. floogles says:

    I played through this about a year ago, and whilst there are plenty of little things which are annoying, it was very enjoyable. What it got right was the world-feeling and sense of place spread throughout the levels and story. In this sense it reminded me of other shooters of that era like HL 1 and Red Faction.

    And as other people have said, damn some parts were FAST.

  19. Durgendorf says:

    The chief complaint and the primary strength of game both seem to be the mobility. I think where they slipped when making mecha move like men in an an FPS was that there needs to be some sense of consequence, of being the good guy in a robot the size of a skyscraper surrounded by bad guys in mechs in a living, breathing city. They could never have made that work when it shipped but I’d love to see it now.

  20. Crazy_Gweilo says:

    I enjoyed the multi missile launcher that would flood a street with rockets and contrails. Mech games need more weapons that are bananas over the top lunacy

  21. default_name says:

    Loved the game when it came out, replayed it somewhere around 2008-10 and didn‘t feel that it aged bad to be honest. The graphics looked old, sure, and level design could’ve been better by today’s standarts, but this game had fantastic pace. It is really fast and both you and enemies can die very quickly, but at the same time it doesn’t feel hectic at all. I might be wrong, but they almost don’t do it like this today, except of course for smaller indie arcade/pixel games.

  22. Lim-Dul says:

    The multiplayer in Shogo was actually quite awesome. The weapons were very powerful and the constant switching between vehicle and mech forms provided for solid entertainment.

  23. Iamjacksplasmid says:

    I still remember this one…what a great game. Really nailed the Anime mech feel, hugely satisfying weapons, and the on foot sections were as fun as the mech ones. With that said, I would never revisit it…I remember even then feeling like the graphics and gameplay were a little behind the curve. Some things are best as nostalgia.

    PS: Zone of the Enders 2 might be the only anime mech game I enjoyed more than this one.

  24. Yglorba says:

    The mech levels were fun. Lots of really weird powerful weapons with cool-looking effects, lots of destruction, relatively open levels (most of the time) intended to show those weapons off.

    The on-foot levels were horrible and generic, though.