Robotrek - Retroview

It's Not Final Fantasy but It's Worth a Look-See
By: WingcommanderIV

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 8
   Interface 7
   Music & Sound 7
   Originality 9
   Story 8
   Localization 5
   Replay Value 8
   Visuals 9
   Difficulty Hard
   Completion Time 30-35 Hours  

Hey! If I had red hair and cool sunglasses, that could be me!
Hey! If I had red hair and cool sunglasses, that could be me!

Robotrek was developed by Enix, who have just recently joined with Square. This game was released a while ago, and it has been a long time since last I played it, but it has stuck in my memory fondly. The game was quite revolutionary for it's time. While it is wildly unknown, it is something of a classic. It is hard to find, and a priceless jewel to any RPG fan's collection.

The battle system is very original, at least when it was made it was. Nowadays one might compare it to that of Final Fantasy Tactics, or Tactics Ogre. When your avatar bumps into an enemy (they are seen in the main screen, and can be avoided) it goes into a battle field, in which you can command your combatants to move, or attack, or use an item. It uses the tried tested and true Active Time Battle system, in which the combatants on both sides are given their turn when their corresponding bar is filled up (though in some games the bar is unseen). This system was first seen in FFIV and continues to be used today.

The interface is a little hard to navigate until you get used to it. Once you figure out what each menu option is (No, they're not self explanatory unfortunately) then you can usually do what you want with little delay. The controls are a little confusing, but like the menu system it only takes some getting used to, once you've been in acquaintance with the game for a little while, navigating the interface should be second nature. You walk around a world map until you walk into towns or locations. Then you move to a town view, in which you walk the town, or location, and talk to people/find monsters/solve puzzles. When you find a monster/baddie, it takes you to a fight screen.

The music is pretty normal for an RPG. While it isn't up to Final Fantasy standards, it does have a few catchy tunes, and the rest at least fit in to the situation. The sounds are very cartoonish, but considering that is the style the developers were going for, I have no complaints. Nothing sounds all together out of place in this game.

Yes, that is a giant SNES controller...
Yes, that is a giant SNES controller...

This game is extremely original. Instead of the protagonist being a fierce warrior who manages to fight off hundreds of bad guys in the name of justice, he is actually a young inventor who is probably as weak as I am. He/you creates robots to fight for him/you. You can have up to 3 robots, and they come into play whenever you are put in a combat screen. You can outfit your robots with all sorts of weapons including axes, swords, guns, rocket launchers, fists, and more. You can also give them shields and armour (I guess that's the same thing actually), boots, speed enhancements, and processor chips. You create these upgrades using the invention machine, which suspiciously looks a heck of a lot like a Super Nintendo controller. You can't create every item at the very beginning however, to be able to make better items you will need to read about them in books, and have the required cost. If you have everything you need, you then say what you want made, and you watch funny little dwarves make stuff for you. Very cool.

As mentioned above, you play a young inventor. You are the son of...well an old inventor. Your father gets kidnapped by some mysteriously evil group of terrorists who like to...well terrorize the citizens of the world in which you live. So using your fathers Invention machine, you set out to stop the terrorists, and save the world. On the way to world saving and butt kicking, you will build up to three robots, make them kick butt robot style, and create inventions your avatar can use in the town screen. You'll also travel the world, and go to a tribal island where you will find a machine pretending to be a god, so of course you go inside, and put a stop to the conspiracy. That's just one of the many sub plots that you are forced to complete before continuing on. But they are mostly fun to do, and don't slow the plot down too much.

The game is fairly average in length. It takes around 30 hours to complete, so if you played non-stop, you would probably be able to beat it in a day and a half. Of course that's rushing through it, and not paying attention to any of the other features. Also, the replay value is fairly high, because it is a very fun plot, and the battles rarely get boring thanks to the always changing robots, and you can equip them differently each time you play the game, until you find the perfect combination.

Its graphics are fairly impressive. They have a very deep, colorful, and slightly cartoon like look to them. The character sprites are drawn impressively, and the backgrounds are rich and vibrant in color. The monsters are unique, and the game in a whole is rather soothing to look at. I am a fan of the style of visuals, and am greatly impressed with the time that must have been taken to make the game look as it does.

The game is very hard to one who has not previously played the game. Even if you have played the game, it is easy to die, and in every area, the common monsters have just as likely a chance of killing you as the bosses. My only salvation was to save often, whenever I can, and I advise everyone else to follow my lead. This game I found to have some very frustrating moments, in which it took multiple tries to bypass. If there's anything to stop one from playing through this game, it is the difficulty.

All in all, I really liked this game. It had a catchy upbeat feel to it, and a very original premise. The subplots were quite fun, especially the false god subplot, I had much joy solving that one. And when I say solving, I mean solving. Many of the sub plots, and the main plot itself, are in a sort of mystery format, and as you progress, you learn more, and are able to put the pieces together to figure out what is truly going on. I think any RPG fan will enjoy this game, though there will be some who will be unable to finish it, but even if you only ever get halfway, this game is still going to give some enjoyment.

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