Monday, February 29, 2016

Review #303: Custom Robo Arena

 Pokemon with robots. Wait, Robopon?!
 Y'know, Custom Robo makes me sad. It makes me sad how underutilized the franchise is. There's been 5 games in the franchise already, of which we only got two localized overseas, and even then, this was the last game they released. It's not like the game is fantastic, far from it, but it has untapped potential.

 The Story... the story is the game's only mode if you don't have anybody else to play offline VS with, although there once was online battles, but it went away alongside the Nintendo DS servers. So, the story mode... it's a total drag. It starts with you getting your own Robopon, and one thing leads to another, and you join a Custom Robo battler team. And everyone admires how good you are even though you just started. There's also this girl that's supposed to be 'the best support ever' and, supposedly, she helps you a lot, though in-game she does jack all. It's a very generic anime story , heck, the 2-D cut outs, for when special NPCs talk, are downright terrible, they look as if they had been drawn at the last minute with little to no effort. And it's so slow paced, so repetitive(The game is divided on 'days', and every day starts with you going to breakfast and ends with you going to dinner with your family, and they repeat the same lines when the scenes end), sometimes you'll ever wonder why they say 'I'll stay here and show X the place, you go on ahead', only for these characters to arrive as soon as you get to where you had to go. What was the point? Immersion? The script is so lame it adds nothing to the game. And characters are very anime, but anime for kids, most characters have this one trait that defines their entire personality.... which makes it surprising how dark the story can get, dealing with themes of revenge, murder and even 'using your friends', makes me wonder just who they were aiming for with the script. Adults will grow bored, fast, and kids won't even care.
 Alright, so everything regarding the story mode is dull, it's the opposite as far as battle are concerned. While the Story Mode is completely 2D, battles are full 3D, in which you must annihilate the opposing robot. You do this by... customizing your robo. Custom Robos are made up of six pieces: A Body, which defines the type of melee charge attack. a gun, a missile launcher, a grenade pod and legs that affect how you'll move around. While you get full 3D movement, your robot automatically aims at the opponent, no matter how far you are, so you can just shoot your projectiles at a distance. Keep in mind that missile actually have to be aimed, by holding the R button, while grenades alter their course depending on how you move the analog stick(Or directions on the digital pad if you are using a Nintendo DS). Movement around the arena can be done by either running, d'oh, or jumping and air-dashes. Depending on which leg parts you are using you might get more aerial dashes. Lastly there's the melee charge attack, that makes you invulnerable while you charge ahead, making it a viable move to protect yourself from incoming projectiles, if you time it right. I found combat to be rather fun, even if the CPU has somewhat inhuman reflexes. There's over 30 different robot bodies and over 40 of each type of weapon, although not as many leg parts. And no set-up felt particularly stronger than the others, so I think it's safe to say that it's relatively balanced.

 But do you know what really, really sucks? You start battling with the Ray Mark II, which is a really cool robot. And then they start teasing you with the 'Ray Mk III', so you start looking forwards to this robo. And then you get it early in the game, and it SUCKS! Sure, it's slightly stronger and sturdier than the Mk. II, but it's also slightly weaker and has a worse charge attack. It will throw you off if you made your strategy about closing in to mash that charge attack. Luckily, by the time you unlock 'Grudge Matches', the open-ended post-game, you can get it back. And it feels so good.
 The Grudge Matches are really interesting, you can fight against many NPCs, as well as unique NPCs, over and over again, as well as collect secret Robos and.... extra powerful 'illegal' parts. The one problem I had with the post game is that you'll require a ton of money, which translates into a lot of grinding. You've no idea just how much grinding you'll have to do, with about 6 robots costing $500 each(That's a lot in this game). And a grudge match with a prerequisite of giving her $500... and illegal parts costing about $300 each. Then there's the many grudge matches with prerequisites of owning(buying) a certain amount of parts... it's gonna take a while and not for the right reasons.

 This game was made when people were still going ga-ga over the touchscreen, so of course they had to tack on some touching mechanics to it. This time around your Robo will get dirty as you use it and it takes damage, and if you don't clean it, it's performance will suffer. Cleaning is done by rubbing all of its individual parts(Head, Chest, Forearms, arms, legs, feet, crotch(Yes) and Pod). At first its cute, but it grows old. Supposedly you can find better, consumable, cleaning clothes that make it faster, but I didn't find any, and even then, it's not like they would prevent it from getting dirty.
 The thing about Custom Robo, is that as good as the battles and how fun customizing your robo is, the story mode is a real drag. And it's not like you can avoid it, even if you found another person to play with, you have to go through the story mode to find the different robos and pieces. Mind you, the Story Mode isn't all that bad, it simply is very boring. But if you are willing to endure it, you'll find a little rough gem of a game that Nintendo just isn't exploiting enough.
 6.0 out of 10

No comments:

Post a Comment