Roboto is a throwback to all of our favorite side scrollers and in that sense Fenix Fire truly outdid themselves. Excellent level design coupled with a very artistic style and classic platforming makes Roboto an easy choice for fans of the genre. However, control and performance issues hold the title back from being a must buy for all gamers.
In Roboto, you play as a young teenage robot who is skating around on his rocket powered skateboard when he sees a girl (fembot) that he’s got a crush on. All of a sudden, she is rocketed away and now he sets off on his journey to find her. The story is told in-between worlds but features very graphically impressive cut scenes but really the story won’t matter to most people.
Roboto’s gameplay is very reminiscent of classic 2D side scrolling platformers. Every level presents different obstacles, enemies and the degree of difficulty ramps up with every completed section of the game. You’ll collect bolts which are like coins, gears which are like hidden Stars in Super Mario Bros. games, and you even have various weapons to take out enemies. But Fenix Fire has done a good job adding modern day gameplay elements to make Roboto feel more like an homage to the classic games rather than simply a port.
Throughout each level, there will be energy that you can collect which will replenish your Energy bar and you’ll need to get it because your Energy bar servers for everything the robot can do. Shooting, hovering for long jumps, and health all come from the Energy bar. This addition to the game makes a big difference in how you approach a particular level, although, you might not notice this until the later levels.
Another great aspect to the game is the ability to use your bolts collected to purchase new weapons and upgraded armor. I didn’t see much difference in power from one gun to the next but they all shot differently. Collecting bolts won’t be that easy though since the majority of coins you will receive are from the end of the level grade. You can get an extra 20-50 bolts depending on what you accomplished in the level. Purchasing new items are nice but I found that it was pretty difficult to gather enough bolts/coins to pay for new items unless you replayed levels or played mini-games.
Aside from these “modern day” game mechanics the platforming is excellent. It’s rare to find a mobile game that has such a unique twist on the old school formula. While most of the 30 levels can be completed in just over a minute, each level provides a lot of variety and exciting platforming. Occasionally you’ll come across areas where the gravity will flip and you’ll be going through the level on the ceiling which might be disorienting the first few times but it’s a great gameplay feature that forces you to re-think how you approach the 2D platforming.
While the platforming is excellent, Roboto isn’t without its issues. The title suffers from some performance and control issues. The game relies on the virtual joystick which isn’t that reliable to begin with and something that very few mobile games can get right. Unfortunately, Roboto’s controls aren’t that stellar. There were times where I died because the game failed to recognize me hitting the jump button or wouldn’t recognize that I tried to move a certain direction. Part of it could be because you are on a hover board so the movement of your character is more like Mario on ice, but not as extreme. You will eventually get used to it but still it could use some fine tuning.
Another issue I ran into was performance issues. The game would lag occasionally or would lock up during the game, especially if there was a text message that popped up on the screen or if I tried to go back and forth from the game to another app. On newer phones/devices, this wasn’t as much of an issue at all but if you have an older phone (year or two old) you should try before you buy. The only other issue I had with Roboto is the first few levels aren’t good examples of the game. I actually didn’t like the game that much after the first 10 levels but once I got into the second and third world, I started to really enjoy the game. The level designs got better and it was more challenging to collect everything in the level and get a Gold rating.
What I suggest is doing a few speed runs through the first world and afterwards head over to the mini-games. There are three mini-games to play: Ring Shot, Bot Invaders (a Roboto twist on space invaders) and Gun Range. Gun Range is definitely my favorite mode but all of these mini-games are quick and will net you some easy points and bolts/coins but they are actually a lot of fun and challenging. Once you upgrade a few things you can then go back and replay the first world to collect everything.
Visually the game is stunning. The great cell-shading style and colors really bring the game to life. Plus when enemies die they go up in smoke reminiscent of Wind Waker which always looks cool. The music, while suitable, isn’t for me so I turned it down when I played. In terms of lasting appeal there is OpenFeint support with some great achievements to strive for, including beating the game without dying, leaderboards to compete on and of course you can try to get a Gold Rating on each of the 30 levels. If you speed run through the game you could complete it in just over an hour but I found that to be difficult so I put in at least 4 hours into the game before beating it. Of course some of the time was spent replaying levels or playing mini-games but I wanted to purchase every upgrade.
Roboto is definitely a great throwback to the classic 2D platformers I grew up playing but with a modern day twist. The boss fights, while not amazing, get the job done and provides an adequate challenge. It’s visually stunning and there is definitely enough in the game to keep you busy for awhile. For a two person design team, Roboto is an impressive title and deserves to be mentioned along with some of the top side scrolling platformers on the market. The only thing holding this game back is the control/performance issues and hopefully there will be a fix for the issues soon. I hope to see more from Fenix Fire and hope they keep adding levels or mini-games to the game even if it doesn’t make sense story-wise. If you are a fan of the genre you owe it to yourself to check this game out.
|Platform: Android (reviewed HTC G2, Motorola Xoom), iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad|
Release Date: 7/28/11
Developer: Fenix Fire
Publisher: Fenix Fire
ESRB Rating: Everyone