Neon Genesis Evangelion 64
|Neon Genesis Evangelion|
|Release Date||June 25, 1999|
|Mode(s)||Single player, Multiplayer|
"Neon Genesis Evangelion 64" (actually simply titled "Neon Genesis Evangelion") is a 1999 fighting video game released for the Nintendo 64 in Japan by Bandai. It is based on the Gainax anime series of the same name and its 1997 film that serves as its conclusion, The End of Evangelion. Players control a mech named Evangelion Unit 01 to destroy a race of aliens known as the Angels before they eradicate the rest of the human race. The game is known for its alterations to the source material in order to make its dystopian and unsettling atmosphere suitable for an action game, and features unique endings and plotlines not present in other Evangelion media.
Evangelion 64 was developed by BEC, a company formed as a joint venture between Bandai and Human Entertainment, and supervised by Gainax. The game received mixed reviews, though it was a moderate commercial success. Reviewers were primarily critical of its lack of player involvement and reliance on button-tapping sequences. Several have identified its graphics and cutscenes as being of higher quality than other games on the Nintendo 64, with some saying it was one of the system's best from a technical standpoint. A PlayStation 2 sequel was released three years later.
Its plot is loosely based on the anime, taking place in 2015 where 75% of Earth's population has been wiped out by alien beings known as Angels. The organization "NERV" assigns three teenage pilots—Shinji Ikari, Rei Ayanami, and Asuka Langley Soryu—to pilot a cyborg named the Evangelion in order to destroy the Angels before they eradicate the rest of the human race.
The player controls one of the three pilots through a series of levels, each being based on a specific episode of the anime. The pilots faces can be seen during battle and change their facial expression in reaction to events. The Evangelion must defeat an enemy Angel through melee and projectile attacks, while preventing the Angel from inflicting damage on the Evangelion. The Evangelion begins with standard kicking and punching attacks; later levels allow it to use weapons such as machine guns and knives. Inputting specific button commands enacts a short cutscene showing the Angel being heavily damaged in battle.
The player has to be aware of several other factors in battle. If the Evangelion is at low health, it can become "berserk" and temporary increase its strength and power. Also, the Evangelion has an umbilical chord which if severed will then only have five minutes of battery power to operate. Additionally, a temporary shield called an "AT Field" can be generated to defend against attacks. There is also the "synchronization rate" which shows the bond between pilot and mech and is indicated by a graph on screen. It increases with successful attacks, giving the player more powerful attacks. Outside the main game, meeting certain conditions will result in unlocking additional gameplay modes. One mode is a shooting gallery minigame where players use the Evangelion to shoot formations of Angels, and a multiplayer mode where players fight against each other using multiple Evangelions. The player can also play as Rei and Asuka. After progressing through the game, players are given a mode to view 3D models of all characters in the game.
Neon Genesis Evangelion 64 was developed for the Nintendo 64 by BEC, a video game development subsidiary of Japanese toymaker Bandai. BEC was founded in 1990 as a joint venture between Bandai and Human Entertainment, with most of its staff being employed from Human's game design school. Evangelion 64 is a loose adaptation of the Gainax-produced anime series and its 1997 film adaptation The End of Evangelion.
Most video game adaptions of robot anime series tend to be action focused, but Evangelion 64 instead opted to reproduce scenes from the anime, which depending on players choices could produce a different outcome. The game is known for its heavy alterations to the source material in order to make the anime's dystopian and unsettling atmosphere suitable for an action game; as such, it includes plotlines and endings that are not present in other Evangelion media. Gainax supervised its development, with company co-founder Shin Unozawa being assigned to project director. Bandai worked to implement most of the characters from the series into the game, though several were relegated to small background cameos. The game's audio was created by Jun Enoki, who replicated a number of musical themes from the anime in MIDI. However, the game lacks the song "Fly Me to the Moon" from the show's closing sequence. The audio incorporates archive footage of the characters' voices from the anime, which was limited in use by the low storage size of N64 cartridges.
Evangelion 64 was announced in October 1998 and demonstrated at the Tokyo Game Show the same month, where it generated the longest player lines at the tradeshow. The game was released in Japan on June 25, 1999 and was bundled with a pack of three Evangelion-themed cards that were compatible with Carddass card vending machines for amusement arcades. A strategy guide published by Kadokawa Shoten was also released for the game that included an overview of each mech in the game, as well as gameplay tips. The game was not released outside of Japan.