The player controls a dexterous, cybernetically-enhanced woman named Vanessa Z. Schneider to destroy a series of robots. The game was designed to have a "classic" feel through use of things such as point combos for destroying multiple enemies in a row. P.N.03 is part of Shinji Mikami's "Capcom Five"; a selection of five 2003 Capcom games intended to be exclusive for the GameCube. Eventually though, P.N.03 ended up being the only "Capcom Five" game not to be ported to the PlayStation 2. In the United States, those who pre-ordered the game could either get a free T-shirt or a special pair of limited-edition sunglasses, depending on where they pre-ordered.
P.N.03's gameplay is defined by the restrictions placed on players and enemies. Players cannot attack while moving, but have a variety of evasive maneuvers such as flips and spins. Similarly, enemies' attacks and movements are restricted to specific patterns. The game encourages use of cover while enemies are attacking, followed by carefully-timed attacks. As the player becomes more skilled and listens more carefully to the enemy audio cues, it is ultimately possible to predict and evade incoming enemy fire while in the open. Enemies destroyed may drop items replenishing the player's barrier or energy. A combo counter provides cumulative bonus points for destroying enemies consecutively (a timer appears between enemies being destroyed; when it reaches zero, the current bonus points are granted to the player and the score reset). Additional bonuses are given upon clearing a room.
The game also features a variety of "energy drives", special moves which render the character indestructible during their execution, and then either launch an attack or grant a temporary status for the character (e.g. invincibility and double damage). These drain the player's "energy" bar.
There is also an assortment of Aegis suits which may be acquired or upgraded in exchange for points earned. As each suit has pre-set restrictions on which upgrades are possible for it, and use different energy drives, they are suitable for different situations.
The game's structure uses a series of pre-set levels, each consisting of pre-fabricated rooms populated by a fixed number of enemies which do not re-appear in the level once eliminated, and may include one or more bosses. If the player dies in these levels, they may reload or use a continue to restart at the last completed room. Upon reaching the end of the level, the player receives a ranking and score based on their success in the mission.
Between missions, players can shop for upgrades, new Aegis suits, and extra continues with their points earned. There is also the option to play trial missions, an assembly of 15 randomly-selected rooms each populated by enemies. These missions provide practice and additional points for the player to use in the shop.
Replay Value Edit
Despite complaints about lack of environment diversity and range of gameplay, developers attempted to encourage replay value by including extra Aegis suits and alternate/extended endings for completing the game under various circumstances. In Mission 9, after investigating the life signs, the player can meet the other clone which she appears to be wearing the hidden Aegis "Blackbird" suit. To obtain this suit, the player must unlock all suits (by just buying each one) and finish the game, and it will reveal a new screen title with Vanessa posing with the Blackbird suit (this applies to the US and EU version). In the Japan version, the player must beat the game once.
- Energy Reactor
- Energy Crystal
- Orchidee / Orchidee II
- Löwenzahn / Löwenzahn II
Origins of the Name Edit
Originally, during the planning stages, P.N.03 was known simply as "Robot War Game". Five days after starting development, graphics were put on-screen and Shinji Mikami felt nothing from how the game was turning out. He then decided to change the direction of the game to its current form. Later during development, Mikami felt that the game's name should be Jaguar to reflect Vanessa's cat-like agility. However, other staff members didn't like the name; some claimed that it didn't describe the game well enough and others thought that White Jaguar would be a better title. Mikami then forced himself to come up with the name Product Number 03, which he shortened to P.N.03 to give it a more mysterious feel. Even after the name was changed, a staff member made Vanessa's crouch pose on her hands and knees to resemble a jaguar, saying that the game would always be Jaguar to him.
Later in the game, it is revealed that Vanessa is actually the third clone created through a secret military program, thus being the "third product number" as referenced in the title.
Though the game has received somewhat of a cult following, reviews to P.N.03 were mostly lukewarm. Many critics praised it for its effort in being a unique game, but felt that the gameplay was flawed. The most common complaint is the inability to shoot and run at the same time. Critics felt it defeated the purpose of having a graceful character when the controls were limited in such ways, whereas fans state that this inability is the entire point of the game, since the player have to listen for and react to audio cues to know when to stop firing and dance out of the way of enemy fire. Other complaints include the poor diversity among environments, graphics not being up to par, and a lack of depth. Shinji Mikami himself was somewhat unsatisfied with the game.