Reviewed by Raymond Almeda
Once upon a time, the heart of video gaming beat incessantly in arcades. The
smoke-filled rooms of the 1980's housed what were definitely the most
advanced and addictive games on the planet. In those days, score mattered. Great
players were distinguished by their ability to play games interminably (like for
days at a time), and rack up astronomical point totals. One of the most popular
games of that time was Robotron. A blisteringly fast and frenetic shooter, Robotron
pit humans against robots in a technological battle to the death.
Today, arcades have in many ways been eclipsed by advances in home video game
technology. But Crave Entertainment's Robotron 64 offers gamers a glimpse of
the past. The original white-knuckle Robotron has returned in a new brand new
64-bit suit of clothes. The result is a compelling game that offers little more
than classic gameplay. But what more do you need?
The gameplay of this Robotron 64 is both simple and frenetic. The year is 2084.
Machines called Robotrons have grown smarter than humans, and are now dedicated
to our extermination (those ingrates!). Players assume the role of Eugene, a human
character charged with saving roaming (and apparently quite stupid) humans from
their robotic attackers.
If you have ever played Robotron in the arcades, or have ever played the
Robotron-inspired Smash TV, you should have a good idea of the Robotron 64
experience. Players progress through a series of brief chaotic levels by killing
robots, saving humans, and just surviving. The levels (there are 200 total) progress
from extremely easy to certifiably insane. Robotron is the kind of game which offers
the player little time to rest. Don't dare remove your gaze from the screen, because
the moment your attention wanes, a robot will turn you into mincemeat. The fact
that the levels are brief but intense adds to the addictive experience. There is
always an incentive to see "just one more" level.
In a fantastic throwback to the original arcade game, Robotron 64 offers gamers
the chance to play using two N64 controllers. With this control option, one N64
controller analog joystick is used for movement, while another analog joystick is
used to fire. This is a surprisingly smooth and intuitive control layout that really
enhances Robotron 64. Although it is possible to play with only one controller, the
game only shines when using this dual- controller arrangement.
Alas, the graphics of Robotron 64 are not as innovative as the control. There are
few texture maps present on the actual robots themselves; the game overall has
a rather plain look. In fairness, most of the action takes place from a floating 3/4
camera angle perspective, so any fine detail on the characters would have probably
been lost during actual gameplay. There are a variety of camera angles offered, but
the most playable present a distant, overarching view of the entire arena.
The sound effects of Robotron 64 are surprisingly bland. One defining trait of the
original Robotron was its uniquely memorable audio of laser fire and robotic
movement. Here, the actual effects are often overpowered by a throbbing techno
soundtrack. Fortunately, the music of Robotron 64 is quite good. The constantly
pulsing techno beat is reminiscent of the soundtracks of Tetrisphere and Extreme-G,
and certainly fits well in the futuristic Robotron environment.
One welcome addition to Robotron 64 are Galaga-style bonus rounds. From time to
time gamers are confronted with bonus rounds in which the object is simply to
destroy everything that whizzes past. These bonus rounds offer a welcome break
from the otherwise relentless action.
As might be expected, Robotron 64 does not really break any new ground. It does,
however, provide a fun and addictive N64 arcade action experience. If you are one
of those old-timers who insists that games used to be better, Robotron 64 will
provide a welcome blast from the past. Newcomers to the series may discover that,
despite Robotron 64s limitations, there remains a lot of kick in this horse.
Overall 80 out of 100