Start your Flashbacks!
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 appropriate 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 Drive Driver!
From now on though, we shall refer to this Driver as Belt San, simply because Drive Driver sounds a little daft.
Belt San is quite unique in the Kamen Rider world, in part because it looks like a cars dashboard, and also because it likes to pull faces at you! Belt San features a silver lining, black screen which lights up brightly with a red face and logos, and a charming wood effect inlay.
This Driver also comes with a wrist brace which is used to activate Shift Cars and Bikes. With a similar theme to the main body, it features a dulled silver base with a glossy black frame.
When activating Belt San, you have to turn the key; quite literally. On the top of the Driver is a mock car key, which activates Belt San, and allows changing between henshin and special attacks. Turn the key the first time, and you’ll be greeted by Belt Sans display lighting up with flashing circles and the default standby jingle. I’d love to tell you what this jingle sounds like, however I’ve honestly never worked out what it says. It’s still my ringtone, though!
While this standby is going on, take a Shift Car, or Bike, and insert them into the brace. As the Shift device enters the brace, you’ll hear an engine rev up, after that simply push the shift cars back end towards the front of the brace. Belt Sans display will change to GO, and then begin the call out of the Shift device inserted. Belt San loves to shout at you and this is no exception. He shouts out “Drive! Type -whatever shift is inserted”. Should mention though he’ll only shout out “Type” when using a main form Shift Car, these include Speed, Wild, Technic, Dead Heat, Next, Special, Fruits and Tridoron.
Once he finishes the call out you’re free to move onto the special attack! This comes in two forms, a powered attack with three stages and a full special. Turn the key again, then for the powered up attack push the Shift Car forward again. Belt San will then call out the type of Shift Car that’s in the Brace. Pushing the Car forward two or three times in a row will give the same result, but will stammer the first letter, for example, three pushes with Type Speed gives you “S-S-S-Speed”.
For the Final Attack, press the red button on the Brace after turning the key. Belt San’s display will change to a throttle gauge, push the Car forward and he’ll call out “Hissatsu… Full Throttle!” then the name of the Shift Car.
To change forms, turn the key again, then pull out the Shift Car, insert another Shift Car and push it forward. Belt San will then call out the name of the Car inserted again. If you’re using a Shift Car that isn’t a main form mentioned above, Belt San will instead call out “Tyre Koukan!” Which in the series would change the tyre around Drives chest to that of the Shift Car now in the Brace.
Now the way the Brace talks to the Driver, is not magic, it uses an IR signal to tell the Driver what sounds and animations to trigger. Simple yet effective, only trick with it is to make sure the beam from the Brace can actually see the Driver, otherwise you get nothing.
To power down, it’s as simple as this, turn the key, pull the Shift Car from the brace, then press the red button. You’ll hear a bit of a clank sound then Belt San sounds off with “Nice Drive!”.
For those of you so inclined, this Driver won’t work with Viral Cores… Belt San will simply say “Dangerous” and give you a frowny face.
Looking like a bikes exhaust, decked out in chrome with a blue and black base, we have a beauty of a Driver. Really this thing is just so much fun to use.
To start, lift the right side of the Driver, this is the part all the Shift devices go in. When you lift this part, you’ll get a standby sound, once a Shift Bike or Car is inserted, the Driver will sound out with “Signal Bike” or “Shift Car” or in the case of Deadheat, “Signal Bike Shift Car”. Then, you’ll get a different standby that’s associated with that particular Bike or Car.
Close the side and you’ll complete the Henshin! You’ll also be greeted another call out with “Rider! -name of Rider related to the Shift Bike or Car used-”
The main form Shift Devices for the Mach Driver are these: Mach, Chaser, Deadheat and Chou Deadheat. Everything else will give you a “Signal / Tyre Koukan” depending on whether its a Shift Bike or a Shift Car.
Once your Henshin is complete, you have two attacks you can do. The first is similar to the Drive Driver, in that you press the button on the top up to 4 times, each one giving a slightly different sound. The second is a full on Hissatsu: lift the side with the Bike/Car in, then press the button on the top, you’ll be greeted with “Hissatsu!” and a revving sound. Close the Driver again to complete the attack, and hear “Full Throttle -name of Bike/Car inserted-“.
To power down, open the Driver, remove the Shift Bike/Car, and close the Driver, the Driver will then say “Otsukare” and power down.
It’s worth noting that the only two Shift devices that won’t work in the Mach Driver, are Tridoron and Heartron, this is due to the size of the Cars, but even if you removed the plate from the bottom and inserted that, only the most generic sounds would play.
Unlike Belt San, Viral Cores do work in this Driver, they work just the same as Shift Cars, unfortunately they do not have a specific form set to them, they just trigger “Tyre Koukan”.
And finally, we have the Break Gunner!
Featuring a silver, black and purple colour scheme, and being a hand held device, this certainly stands out from other Henshin devices, the fact it doubles as Chaser’s main weapon is an added bonus.
To start, lets cover some basics on its operation. Without a Shift device inserted, pull the trigger, the default from turning it on is the gun mode, so you’ll hear a slightly stylised gun shot, press the muzzle and you’ll hear a voice say “Break” in a deep gritty voice. From here, it’s a melee weapon! The sounds are fairly simple, gun shots for gun mode, clashing sounds for melee mode.
Hold down the muzzle, and you’ll start hearing a guitar riff, release the muzzle to hear “Break Up”… Congratulations, you are now in the armoured form of Mashin Chaser!
As this is primarily designed to work with the Viral Cores, we’ll start with their functions!
To start, take your Viral Core, and insert it along the top track on the Break Gunner. Once inserted you’ll hear “Tune… Chaser -whichever Core you inserted-” followed by a sound related to that Core. Having a Core inserted also changes the gun sound, adding the theme of the Core to the gun shots, for example, using the Bat Core adds what sound like Bat squeaks to it.
Hold down the Muzzle now, and the Gunner shouts “Execution!”, you’ll then get an electrical sounding standby sound, simply pull the trigger to complete the attack, accompanied by the sounds “Full Break -Core name-” and a few explosions!
To release the Core from the Gunner, press the button on the right side, this releases the catch holding the Shift Device in place. You’ll also get a power down sound at this point.
If you want to use any of the Form Shift Cars, for example Speed, you’ll hear “Drive System” when inserting it, followed by warning sounds, this means the Gunner won’t function with them. A similar thing happens when using the Mach Shift Bike, but that says “Next System” instead.
The Gunner will however read most, if not all (I don’t have a few of the Shift Cars, so don’t quote me on the all part) of the Tyre Koukan Cars. When inserting them into the Gunner, you’ll get “Tune… -Shift Car name-” but unlike the Viral Cores, it won’t alter the gun sounds.
Unlike the other two, there is no power down sound for the Gunner, all you need to do is press the button to release the Shift Device and you’re back to square one.
Now to finish up…
I’m quite fond of Belt San and the Mach Driver, I can’t really call the Break Gunner a Driver though, as it is primarily a weapon, but it belongs to Chaser, hands down the best Rider of the series.
The screen on Belt San is a little questionable, the noise made as the LED’s spin up can be quite loud, which can detract from the appeal of it, I do think it would have benefited from a full LCD similar to Kamen Rider Zi-O’s Ziku Driver. This might also have lead to an expanded range of “emotions” from Belt Sans face, or at least some different animations when he talks to you.
As to be expected, the strap on the wrist is not designed for larger wrists, this is after all a toy marketed to children, so expect there to be sizing issues, though this is easily corrected with a little Velcro, or replacing the strap all together with one more your size.
Belt San also likes to speak to you in English, for example instead of saying “Chou Deadheat” when using the Tridoron key, he’ll say “Super Deadheat”, whereas the Mach Driver is entirely Japanese.
For the Break Gunner, I do think its range of sound could have been expanded, perhaps with a specific set of sounds for the Form Shifts rather than the warning sounds. But that’s just my preference, I’ll take a specific sound saying “nope” over a generic one any day, but I do understand the limitations of the pin system.
Overall, a brilliant set of Drivers (and a weapon) for a series that ended up being a favourite to many, which is highly amusing considering the hate kicking around when Drive was revealed to be a Car themed Rider!