Reach out your hand! Grab hold of that Flashback!
A little over 10 years ago, we were given one of the first Kamen Rider anniversary series. Kamen Rider Decade gave us a look back through ten years worth of Riders, and how their stories evolved the franchise into what it is today.
With another anniversary series currently airing, it seems approprriate we take another look back over the years, but this time we look at the Drivers, how they’ve progressed in terms of technology and gimmick, and if they still hold as much charm today as they did back then.
Next up we have the OOO Driver.
Featuring a black Driver, with blue lining, and silver highlights, the Oz Driver is both stylish and functional in appearance. The Scanner has a black centre with gold edging, and 4 lights in the centre.
The OOO’s (from now on called Oz to make my typing go easier) Driver uses a 3 Medal system, consisting of a head, body/arm and leg. The set also features a Scanner, which is used in conjunction with the Driver and Medals to trigger all associated sounds.
To operate, turn on the scanner, with its easily located on/off switch on the side, then insert 3 Medals into the Driver. While it should matter which order they go in, the Scanner will recognize the appropriate Medals for the Combo and still play the right jingle. Once the Medals have been inserted, lift the Scanner from its bracket on the side of the belt, press the button inside the grip, and run it flush along the front of the Driver. You should hear a clang clang clang sound as it passes over. Once the Scanner passes the end of the Driver, the Scanner will call out the name of all 3 Medals, followed by the approriate song.
As each Medal is scanned, one light lights up on the Scanner, once all 3 Medals have been scanned, and the Henshin is in process, all four lights will be lit up, and flashing different colours.
Featuring 24 Core Medals, the combinations are almost limitless. The Medals are broken down into Combo’s, which feature 3 Medals, one from each position, and are always the same colour, for example, TaJaDor uses 3 red Medals, Taka (Head), Kujaku (Body/Arms) and Condor (Legs). The cheat way to tell which one goes where is to look at the back of the Medal, Head has one bar, Body/Arms two bars, and legs has 3, these indicate the position in the driver.
Each Combo features a unique call out when scanned, followed by a purpose written song. Well, all but one of the Combo’s do. The Movie exclusive “Kamen Rider Core” Combo doesn’t register as a full Combo, so doesn’t get a song.
When using 3 random Medals, for example Taka (Head), Gorilla (Body/Arms), Batta (Legs), the Scanner will call out their names, and then a generic sound, something like an explosion.
For reference, the Scanner will register any 3 Medals, so you could use 3 head Medals, or 3 leg Medals, and the Scanner will still act like a head/body/leg set has been scanned, and again play the generic combat sound.
After the initial Medal scan, and your Henshin is complete, run the Scanner over the same Medals to perform a “Scanning Charge”, the final attack of Oz. This can be repeated as many times as desired, without the Scanner resetting, this will only be done if the Medals change.
Moving along, now we have the Birth Driver, the secondary Driver in the series belonging to Akira Date.
Also using a Medal system, this Driver is quite different in its operation. After turning the Driver on, and hearing the initial start up sound, insert a Cell Medal into the slot on the left side. Once the Medal has been inserted, turn the crank on the right side. You should hear a twisting sound, like a dial turning, followed by a pop as the centre of the Driver springs open. Once the jingle finishes, you are now officially Kamen Rider Birth! (Or Birth Prototype if you prefer, though there isn’t a way to differentiate between the two in the Driver)
Repeating the process, inserting the Medal again and turning the crank, will trigger an attack mode. These include Drill Arm, Breast Canon, Crane Arm, Cutter Wing, Shovel Arm and Catepillar Leg, . These sounds all come out in one order, so in order to access Shovel Arm, you’ll need to cycle through the others first.
Once you’ve chosen the mode you want, insert two Medals into the Driver and turn the crank. This triggers “Cell Burst” and plays some nice action sounds.
Sadly “Birth: Day” isn’t accessable through the Driver, the combined weapon form of Birth.
Now, to round things up.
With plenty of combinations, many additional Medals and a solid mechanic, the Oz Driver is a beauty. The only downsides i’ve seen with it, are that the front of the Driver and the rear of the Scanner can get quite scuffed with the constant contact of scanning Medals, and a slight light bleed through on the front of the scanner where the battery compartment closes.
With the Scanner relying on chips inside the Medals to register what they are, the expansion possibility of the Oz Driver is somewhat limited, meaning that past the shows run period, the ability to create new medals is almost impossible.
That said, with the release of the CSM, the Scannner and Medals were updated with new sounds, updated Medal designs and additional Combo’s.
Unlike other Drivers, leaving Medals in the Driver has minimal impact on the longevity of its performance. This is because the spring clips that keep the Medals in place are above the Medals in the Driver, and do not remain pressed when in use.
The Birth Driver on the other hand, has minimal functions, and requires repetition to reach the desired form. The option to select the desired form would have been a bonus, comparably a similar function was later used in Ghosts “Mugen” Eyecon, when performing an Omega Drive, if the handle is held out, the Eyecon flashes different colours, pushing the handle in on a different colour gave a different attack.
As the Birth Drivers light flashes different colours while performing actions, it would be well suited to the same function as the Eyecon for its different modes. Though in it’s defence, the tech for the Eyecon came around several years after the Birth Drivers design and release, so expecting the same tech inside it is rather unreasonable. But should it be updated and re-released, or presented as a CSM, there is potential for upgrades.
In all, the Oz Driver holds up, but with a reliance on numerous gimmicks, it requires a somewhat expanded collection to use all of its functions.
The Birth Driver however, in my opinion, is lacking in functions, and is in dire need of updating… But is still a welcome addition to the collection.
*Disclaimer: The pictures for the OOO’s Driver were taken with the Complete Selection Modification version, as such some of the review text and the associated picture might not line up properly.
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