|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Vogster Ent.||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Vogster Ent.||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Q2 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
February 5, 2008 - The idea that a simple programming slipup could send a batch of mechanized monstrosities cavorting off into the world bent on destruction and carnage is not entirely unfamiliar. Movies like the Terminator and Maximum Overdrive are stark - and somewhat campy in the latter case due to the green alien green light - variations on the theme, but the topic hasn't frequently been given an overtly humorous treatment.
This is perhaps because such an incident is entirely plausible with today's advances in technology and even a likely event in the future. A video game seems the perfect medium to broach the subject in a casual and funny way (while humans prepare to wrap their brains around the eventual mechanical onslaught to come), and Robocalypse will not be lacking in the humor or the diabolical sentient machine departments.
The advent of Real-Time Strategy tiles on the DS was an exciting breakthrough in the handheld world, but enthusiasm among the gaming community quickly gave way to disappointment as they soon found the experience did not translate entirely well onto the system. Some recent titles have managed to get the formula working more smoothly; most have been plagued with path-finding issues and other problems. Still, with the dual screens, touch interface, and stylus, it seems the DS remains a good match for the genre.
Whether Robocalypse will fall into the similar rut as other RTS titles on the handheld is to be seen, but it appears the Vogster Entertainment aims to overcome the same obstacles other have not. The game will feature a way-point marking system and over 50 independently A.I. driven units with advance distributed path-finding; hopefully that will keep things from running amok. Vogster has billed the title as a proper RTS game, so we'll see if it lives up to the hype.
Getting back to the theme of robots taking over, the story in Robocalypse looks promising. When prototype droids are booted up with a series of military routines, all hell breaks loose. In order to clean up the mess, another force or robots is outfitted with the brain scans of rough-and-tumble WWII vets and sent out to quell the uprising. The humor-infused storyline is written by SpongeBob Squarepants writer Jay Lender and his partner Micah Wright, and the duo have indicated a desire to bring a greater level of dialogue, personality, and depth to the story and its characters than typically seen on handheld titles. Also, expect plenty of one-liners and slapstick antics as the comedic destruction reaches over-the-top levels with flying robotic limbs and ridiculous weaponry.
Robocalypse's single-player campaign will to span 17 unique missions complete with hidden objectives and rewards. Multiplayer options include WiFi connectivity for two-to-four players and local head-to-head or co-op play featuring several different modes, a hall of fame, and unique multiplayer maps. Players will control over 10 distinct robot varieties, each with their own weapons and skills. Hero units possess special abilities that, when upgraded, can unleash destructive attacks or useful functions capable of gaining the upper hand for players in battle. The special abilities themselves sound both humorous and interesting. Several of the more unique abilities among a range of odd powers include: Conversion, which turns enemies into refrigerators, and Leadership, which transforms several units into a single injurious machine. Players will be able to utilize more than 20 different weapons including digitizers, converter cannons, falling anvils, and "head-crack'n" gauntlets, among other dangerous implements.
Controlling units on the battlefield should be easier than ever with simplified stylus-only touch controls. Actions are a no-buttons-allowed affair with all major activities delegated to the stylus via a basic point-and-tap interface. Based-on available screenshots, the top screen appears to show a battlefield map, although it will also be used to track the number and type of remaining units, their health, and other important information. Visually, the primary colored bright green versus bright red units seen in available images of the game are a bold color scheme, but the scenery looks good and it shouldn't be hard to tell between the two sides on the battlefield.
Indeed, Robocalypse may give other RTS titles on the market a run for their money. It's forming up nicely to offer what looks to be a solid RTS foundation with a healthy dose of robot-oriented humor. With Vogster using phrases like "the first true RTS on the DS" and "a technological breakthrough for the DS" to describe the game, one would hope it will hold up on closer scrutiny. We'll have to wait and see how the action unfolds.
CCC Stuff Contributor