|Review by||:||Ken Gagne|
You've been craving the old days when games were simple, yet fast, furious, and fun. Game developers know this, and have been updating and releasing new versions of classics, such as Pitfall and Frogger. The company Crave seems to have missed the point in Robotron 64, for Nintendo 64, a supposed update from the original Robotron 2084 arcade game.
The story behind this shooter is familiar to sci-fi fans: robots have evolved to the point that they decide to wipe out humanity, the inferior species. Eugene must fight to preserve the "last human family," which seems to have an infinite number of relatives. Nothing new.
Each stage is a square grid, swarming with multitudes of robots and humans. The player must move about the level, firing upon all mechanical foes and collecting as many humans as possible. The game's layout and goal are unchanged from its predecessor.
This futuristic title has a very plain look. Each level rotates slightly as the player moves, but this does not create any special effect. Other camera angles are available for variety, but not functionality: they often make the playing field harder to see and navigate. Each sprite, or moving character, is small — identifiable, but unremarkable. Each level opens with a vivid swirl of colors, but that's the most you'll get out of this game.
The music has a robotic, techno theme, appropriately enough. It rarely changes, bridging each level with itsincessant tune. Sound effects include Eugene's constant firing, and the dying humans' unrealistic screams.
A bright point of Robotron is the simple controls. Eugene can move and fire independently in eight directions. These two functions can be managed by the analog sticks of two controllers by players wishing for double-fisted action. It's more confusing, but some gamers may find better results using this method.
Options allow for a customized challenge level, including difficulty and game speed. But on a whole, the game is not hard. The robotic assassins fall easily to Eugene's firepower. Extra lives are given at the generous rate of one per level. The real challenge comes in the sheer quantity of levels, which never seem to end, with only a bonus stage every twenty levels interrupting the onslaught. There is an two-player alternating mode, boring as one gamer waits for the other to make a mistake.
Passwords allow for continuation through the dozens of stages. The memory pack can also save one's progress in eight different slots. Robotron demands enough space to save at least eight games, though — an unnecessary waste of memory.
Robotron 64 will appeal to gamers of the classic, or those that enjoy the wild action of the Smash TV game and its ilk. This title does not justify the use of a sophisticated machine such as the Nintendo 64, failing to exploit its graphic and sound capabilities. Craving a new challenge? I recommend you look elsewhere.
This article is copyright (c) 1998, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.
Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 12-Jan-98