Robotron X


Review by Dave Giarrusso



Graphics: ?

Sound: ?

Gameplay: ?

Overall: 7

The sky is blue. The grass is green. The greatest arcade video game of all time was, is, and forever shall be Robotron: 2084. It just is. That’s how these things work. Imagine my surprise and excitement then, when Midway announced that Robotron X would soon be available for the Playstation. Wow, 3D Robotron with some groovy new twists? What more could we want?

robotronx1ps1.jpg (12664 bytes)Hmmm. At the risk of sounding like I’m bashing this game, which I’m not, I actually like it a lot, better gameplay and more of the old-school Robotron feel would have been nice. There’s just no real sense of urgency, of certain death, of blink and you’re gone twitchiness that makes the original such a thrill-a-minute game. Perhaps that’s why the CD doesn’t contain the original game, even as a “hidden extra”?

The story (smart robots get too smart and realize that humans are unnecessary) and most of the characters have remained the same. In fact, the main differences are: a 3D environment, the addition of Smash TV-like powerups, bonus rounds where the player is attacked by waves of bees, additional family members (Gramps, complete with cane and white ZZ Top beard), and newer mutated versions of the original cast of evil Robotrons. Throw in the practically obligatory reworked-classic game techno-rave soundtrack first seen in the Jag hit, Tempest 2000, and you’ve got Robotron X.

Simply put, the game plays like a “heavy on the water, light on the sugar glass of Kool-Aid” version of the original. Veteran 2084 players will be able to quickly dispense with the first thirty or forty levels of ‘botrons with the greatest of ease, and will have racked up tons of extra lives in the process. The powerups (shield, 2, 3, 4-way firing, pulse wave, speed up, and my favorite, flame thrower, along with a 1-up) appear in conjunction with special Mortal Kombat style moves made while the player is evading the bad bots. Occasionally, Bill & Ted phone booth/time machine looking warpgates appear that randomly take the player forward (woo-hoo!) or backward (d’oh!) several levels. In 2084, the playfield is absurdly full of enemies, and once they are destroyed, no new ones appear. In the X update however, as robots are destroyed, new ones materialize to take their place until they’ve all been destroyed, and the later levels drone on a bit too long (I know, not unlike some of my reviews!).

What then, is good about this release? There’s a neat little opening animation where the stick figure logo deposits a quarter into the 2084 arcade game. Lots of 2084’s sounds have been included here. The graphics, now rendered in 3D, maintain the look and feel of the original, while adding new graphic design that merges well with the 3D look - be sure to watch all of the attract-mode character descriptions to get a really good look at them. The bonus rounds are a nice touch and even play an interesting, and apropos version of “Flight of the Bumblebee.” The hero’s name here is “Ugene,” undoubtedly a nod to the brilliant creator of the original game, Eugene Jarvis. Finally, blasting robots is still fun, even if it isn’t as “dangerous” as in 2084.

Robotron X is a good game, but it doesn’t match the intensity of the original. If the game was simply called something else, “Wipe Out all the Evil 3D Robots!” perhaps, it would have avoided the 2084 comparison and seemed like a better game. As a Robotron:2084 update though, it falls a bit flat. Of course, when you’re at the top, the only place to go is down.


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Last updated: Tuesday, October 11, 2005 12:29 AM