Review by Bkstunt_31
And I'll be the head!
Voltron: Defender of the Universe, for those who don't know, was an animated cartoon show in the early 1980's featuring a giant robot protecting the peace of the galaxy from evil-doers. Sound like something out of Japan, right? You would be correct. Voltron is fairly unique among giant robots (of which Japan has had plenty of) in that it is actually comprised of a number of robotic lions who are all piloted individually but can combine to form the robot.
Anyway, enough about the early 80's cartoons history lesson, this review is on the video game that was inspired by said cartoon. This is actually the ONLY video game ever based on Voltron and it was released to the PSN and XBox Live in late 2011, DECADES after the show first came out. Well, I guess nostalgia is a heck of a drug. But after playing through the game multiple times (its pretty short) let me tell you exactly what you can expect out of it.
Now most of my childhood cartoon watching took place in the early 90's, so I actually never watched ANY episodes of Voltron prior to (or after...) playing this game, making nostalgia a non-factor for me. The game itself is only loosely based on the first season of the cartoon. One of the BEST things about the game (and perhaps the cheesiest) is the fact that the game takes segments of the cartoon and puts them into the game. These cartoon sections (which really show the age of the source material) provide the "plot" of the game. However, these are still just segments of the cartoon pulled out of a LONG season and plopped into the game, making the "plot" EXTREMELY WEAK for anyone who has no idea what Voltron is all about. For example, you won't be introduced to any of the main characters at all and while the cut-scenes within the first two stages talk about the main characters searching for the hidden parts of Voltron you just kinda... already have him. There's also no introduction to the bad guys either, they're just kinda there and evil. Heck, they even change one of the pilots/characters mid-game without so much as an explanation. So in the end while including the original source material is cool and all, there's was NO effort made to actually make the plot make sense which just reeks of laziness on the developers part.
Being a twin-stick shooter guarantees you the game play will be pretty easy to master, and it is. The game itself is extremely easy to master. You obviously have your move and shooting actions down pat. Other than that you can do a melee move as well as a super-move and that is ALL you can really do. You can play with any one of the five lions that make up Voltron (being the red, black, green, blue and yellow lions), each with their own way to attack and different stats. For example, the black lion is REALLY good at damaging armored foes with his shotgun attack while the blue lion is much more adept at hanging back and damaging enemies from range. Lives are acquired by collecting star pieces scattered throughout the game. Five star pieces will net you an extra life, however it also costs you a star piece to use a special attack which sets up a give and take relationship between netting extra lives and using special attacks. There are also two special pick-ups you can acquire while you play the game: one that gives you an enhanced attack for a limited time and another that greatly enhances your defenses for a limited time.
The game play is all about jetting you from one objective to another while battling the Drule forces (the evil bad guys, with DOOM weaponry!) and protecting civilians. The game itself actually has three different "modes". The main game is MOSTLY you in lion-form heading from objective to objective while killing things. Pretty basic and rather repetitive after a time. At the end of each world you'll face a giant "robeast", which is WAY bigger than anything else you'll face. During these times you'll transform into Voltron to take on your equally-giant foe. Fighting as Voltron is nothing more than a mini-game. You basically pick one of four attacks and then play a short mini-game to see if you'll hit the enemy or not. You then have to hit a timed button-press to defend. It doesn't even really matter which attack you pick, just as long as you do your mini-game and timed button-press. The third mode is "space mode" where you travel between planets and avoid enemy forces on the way. These sections are basically like the normal lion section but even less complicated since you aren't facing attacks from the land AND the air.
Overall the game is fairly fun (especially if you're playing multi-player), as destroying stuff with a giant robotic lion is a kick. I can't deny that nabbing aircraft out of the air with my over-sized robotic house cat isn't a blast, but the entire experience as a whole is just TOO simplistic. I mean, the game play doesn't change at all from start to finish, no upgrading, no nothing. And no, Mr. Developer, playing a mini-game as a giant robot isn't my idea of "variety". So while the game is fairly fun (especially with a friend, of course) be prepared for some VERY PLAIN generic action... and plenty of it.
The graphics in the game are fairly basic. The game has three worlds that you'll visit and so each world has its own distinct look but they re-use a lot of stuff within worlds and the environments themselves aren't terribly detailed either. The space sections are all terribly generic. The giant Voltron fights are entertaining with all the different attacks but once again there's no variety as you progress through the game. The most notable thing you can mention about the game, graphically, is of course the old Voltron cartoon segments which are admittedly neat for their nostalgia value. All in all a underwhelming performance from the developer, graphically-speaking.
The audio in the game makes abundant use of Voltron's theme song. Seriously, you'll be hearing it a ton. I've read elsewhere (Wikipedia) that the rest of the music is remastered from the series which is neat as it sounds good enough. Sure it's just repetitive dramatic music for the most part, but it sounds good and fits the action on screen. Outside of the cartoon sections you don't really have much voice acting, but there is some. It is mostly the main character commenting on how good the team did but sometimes you'll get little quips from the other team members mid-game. All the dialog sounds like (and likely is) ripped from the cartoon.
The game is, without a doubt, extremely short. I would say tragically short, but with how repetitive the game is I don't think its shortness is really "tragic". You could easily beat the game 2-3 times in a day. Playing around with the other lions is fun, but it doesn't change the game so much that you'd want to play it all over again. The game also supports multi-player (including local co-op) which is good, as well as trophies if you're into that. Overall, not much of a reason to re-play the game once you've beaten it which gives this title very little replay-ability.
There's a lot to find fault with in Voltron: Defender of the Universe. It's REALLY short, the game play is extremely repetitive and the graphics and story just feel... lazily done. The inclusion of the old cartoons in the game was a real neat idea, but for the price they want for the game ($10) I doubt that sheer nostalgia alone is enough to warrant a buy. I could only really recommend this to BIG fans of twin-stick shooters who have already played most of this generations other twin-stick shooter games. Or perhaps the people who REALLY love Voltron. Have fun and keep playing!
Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Product Release: Voltron: Defender of the Universe (US, 11/29/11)
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