Review by KeeperBvK
""7 out of 10?! You gotta be kidding me!" Well, come in and see for yourself."
Movie-based games. Was this enough to scare you off? I guess not you in fact, since you wouldn't be able to read this sentence in this case, but nonetheless a lot of people who have been into gaming for a few years shudder when thinking about the 8- or 16-bit days. Back then most games based on any license only appealed with their name and in some cases with their visuals, but certainly neither with innovation nor great gameplay. Of course you could find the famous exceptions to the rule like Aladdin, Castle of Illusion or World of Illusion (all on the Genesis), but the majority of celluloid-based software were simple Jump n Runs that plain sucked.
A few years ago this changed by quite a lot, especially when Rare gifted the N64 with what I still think of to be the best Ego-shooter ever: Goldeneye. Movie games haven't become the top-notch kind of games (this goes especially for games supposed for a young audience), but Eurocom for example has done its best to delight fans of certain films, like another James Bond movie (The World is not enough), Disney's Tarzan or Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Can they deliver another good conversion or just a mediocre, run-of-the-mill kiddie-Jump n Run?
After the first few minutes playing Robots you would probably tend to the latter possibility: When finally having clicked away the last one of the many developer- and publisher-intros you gain control of Rodney Copperbottom roaming the streets of his home town. While the surroundings and the characters look very nice (throughout the whole game) and the sound is nicely crafted, too, you will find yourself simply following a linear path as invisible walls and closed doors all around restrict your movement. Talking to your father magically transforms you into a teenager and gives you new tasks that only see you traverse a few easy and boring jumping-areas and collect pieces for Rodney's latest invention: The wonder bot. An invention; sounds amazing? Well, it isn't. At least for now, since the small robot only flies around you aimlessly without having any purpose.
Still awake? Great, because from now on, Robots gets better by far.
Your (still linear) way takes you into the city hall where you get a preview of just about every good aspect of Eurocom's newest creation.
The first thing you will see and enjoy is the save terminal which also allows for item purchases. Spending junk that can be found throughout the levels not only gives you various upgrades for your main weapon (the junk thrower) but also a total of nine sets of artworks by the end of the game. Although you will want to purchase everything available, consider yourself warned: The artworks have a great chance of ranking high in my all-time charts for useless and boring goodies; all you get are a few pictures you might look at once before shaking your head and returning to the game itself. Fortunately the upgrades for your gun and for the wonder bot really keep up your interest as you want to know what the Power Shot looks like e.g. and if it works better than the Tri-Shot.
Now it's time to kick some metal asses, which can be done either via screwdriver or junk thrower. Given the absolutely tight controls and the pretty good graphics, these fights provide lots of fun and a nice diversion from your usual Jump n Run. The first few enemies are easily beaten, of course, but later on some bad guys can get rather nasty and sometimes you will also face a great number of enemies, making for some decent challenge.
What's still missing as a vital gameplay element to any Jump n Run? The jumping, of course. Most jumping areas are fair and enjoyable, yet a bit uninspired, but sadly some of them can get frustrating, may it be caused by the sub-optimal camera, a bad guy shooting at you while you're jumping, a ledge being a bit too far off or, sometimes, the controls. While there's nothing to complain about the controls when fighting and generally in most of the game, there is one bad thing about it: Rodney turns around in mid-air like a Hummer would, probably, so make sure to face the right direction when jumping off.
After finishing the first level (or any other level), the game lets you see a short scene from the movie, which would be a good idea if the developers would have combined the original visuals with the original sound and voices, but for some reason I surely can't think of, Eurocom underlines the scenes with monologues from Rodney's father. Why not give us the normal movie material, followed by the monologue instead? We'll never know.
Most of the game consists of fighting and jumping, which might sound pretty tedious to play after a while, but this isn't the case: Some levels are more battle-oriented whereas others concentrate more on platforming and as if this wasn't enough diversion you also get to solve some rather easy but still enjoyable riddles and gain control of the steel balls known from the movie. Furthermore you will face three bosses varying pretty well, get new abilities (even for the wonder bot) and weapons, deal with a test of reaction like in the train level of Star Wars Shadows of the Empire, traverse different scenarios like bright city areas or dark junk yards, and collect 16 trick chips for the wonder bot. Before I tell you about these, let me say that Robots definitely offers a good amount of variety and will never bore you, but now off to the chips: I already told you what I think of the artworks and it applies to the chips 100%. Here in Germany we have a word called Arbeitsbeschaffungsmaßnahme (ABM) which means to give someone a job, just for the purpose of having him do something instead of seriously giving him an important task, as there is no other job for him. Collecting the chips is such an ABM as it is fun to do, no doubt about it, but in the end you will see yourself having picked up all of them and yet not having achieved anything. In the old days when 2D-games were all you had, video game characters showed off some short, useless but yet nice animations when not being moved for a certain amount of time. Well, the wonder bot does, too, but he needs a chip to learn new animations. Believe it or not, but this is all the chips do; they make the wonder bot dance or spin or whatever.
Since Robots is a package of various gameplay elements and will never see you be bored (after the first ten minutes of playing, that is), it's unfortunate to realize that the difficulty suits the major audience of the game: Children. Besides a few unfair jumping passages and the somewhat sub-optimal camera you should have no problem completing the game within about five hours, only spending some additional time when searching for all wonder bot chips. One of these is hidden almost infuriatingly hard, but the rest can be found almost on the go if you keep your eyes open.
Bottom-line is that Robots doesn't do anything new, but what it does is to put together lots of neat elements into a great looking game, that's not only suited for children but also for anybody enjoying a good Jump n Run. The only major downside is the lack longevity in combination with about no replay value after the credits roll out, so you might want to pick up the game at a low price or in a bundle with other games or (if possible) as a rental. I'd definitely appreciate Eurocom returning to the James Bond license, but I can guarantee that I don't regret the time I spent with Robots, although I haven't seen the movie yet.
Graphics: Very nice visuals and animations, with a few hick-ups in the second level as well as some minor aliasing. 8.3
Sound: Nothing spectacular, but of a high quality; the only complain here is: Why not have the original movie sound in the cut-scenes? 8.1
Longevity: About five hours for an experienced gamer and nothing to do after beating the final boss.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 12/19/05
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