Tuesday, March 30, 2010

AA Look - Data East's other games

Here I'll be looking at Data East games that will most likely never see a re-release.
It's hard to screw up a concept like Robocop. He shoots criminals in the face with a huge gun. The man is nearly unstoppable so the bad guys have to constantly up the ante and create new and exciting obstacles for Murphy to overcome. He's not perfect by any means since due to his bulky armor he's a bit slow and clunky. For better or worse Data East captured all of these aspects in their arcade game.

The game follows the plot of the movie...well aside from Dick Jones being at the Narcotics Factory which must be a translation error. The game is about what you'd expect. Thugs pile in from both sides of the screen, the windows, platforms above the ground, and then they start firing. You're basically getting shot at from every angle and you respond in kind and then move on. This is a very slow-paced game as moving too far ahead can lead to getting overwhelmed and killed very easily.

The main cause of this is unlike his movie counterpart, Robocop is a pretty fragile. Merely touching an enemy will take a little bit of health away and weapons will take 1/10th to 1/3rd of Robo's life. This is also one of those games where there are no invincibility periods after taking damage. The player also only gets one life so ehh..good luck with that.

The way health works in this game is perhaps my biggest annoyance with it. It leads the game to becoming more about trial and error and since Robocop is designed for dodging things very effectively he must kill the criminals before they can even fire a shot. This isn't always possible since they're coming from every direction at once so the player has to prioritize. This is definitely an older style of arcade game and doesn't feel it necessary to play fair.

Overall it's an okay game but not the sort of thing I'd play in lieu of something else. Thinks were different back when this game first came out but today there are just far too many better options to consider.
Robocop 2

Strangely enough the inferior movie sequel gets the superior game sequel. Robocop takes the fight to Cain in a new perspective that looks more fitting in a beatemup than a shooter. The basis of the game is still in shooting everyone although here it's more about managing space and evasion. In some ways it's like a hack & slash only with guns if that makes any sense. Robocop can also punch as well as body slam almost any foe he can get close to. This is necessary for when he battles other cyborgs as they're impervious to bullets.

One of the things I like about this game is that it has good pacing. The entire game isn't bogged down with relentless hoards of foes or repetitive areas that were included solely to pad the length of the game. Robocop 2 switches game styles a few times and freshens up the enemy variety every now and again. It certainly helps that this is a rather short game at a little over 20 minutes.

This game shows a proper usage of telegraphing and mechanics. Enemies that use melee weapons don't just strike Robocop as soon as they get close. They have to go through the swinging motion in order for the hit to connect. For enemies that carry guns the guns will actually flash before they fire. These useful touches make this game a bit easier to handle. The hit-box is also sufficient in that Robocop can dodge a lot of things just by moving slightly out of the way.

Fans of the movies will also enjoy all of the references. For example in part 2 there was this one criminal who was a big Elvis nut. Oddly enough the movie never mentions what happened to him. Apparently in the game he fell in a large vat of acid and turned into a mutant. ED-209 also makes a re-appearance though he serves as little more than a tutorial for jumping & shooting(which is required for the last boss). Pretty much every scene from the movie is in the game one way or another. Even the arcade which inexplicably manages to have nothing but Data East games is accounted for.

The only real problem with the game is that it's a shallow. The only real spot where it'll take some effort to master the game(aside from the beating it without continuing and/or dying) is in the bonus rounds. Otherwise there's little in the way of advanced techniques that'll lead to some ridiculous score. Then again considering the genre I guess it isn't such a big deal. In any case it wouldn't hurt to give this game at least one playthrough.

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