Legend of Robot Review—More Heads Are Better than None

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For the first time in Minis history, a crowd-sourced game has risen. The Bearded Ladies hosted at the European PlayStation Blog and Community Forum an 8-week competition of stitching up an action-platformer. This event was called “Gamocracy.”

The foundations of this Legend of Robot are awesome. The community came up with excellent ideas, from the design of the player-controlled character to the very description of the game, from the creation of the multi-staged boss to the graffiti and ads filling the empty spaces. However, no matter how brilliant or poor (admittedly, I scoffed at the initial entries) the collective ideas are, the execution still belongs to the developers.

To begin, Legend of Robot has a ridiculous save system that doesn’t make sense. It automatically saves your game every time you succeed in each level but readily erases it if you exhaust all of your lives and face the dreaded Game Over screen. If this game is indeed channeling the Olden Age of gaming, where once it’s Game Over, it’s Game Over and you have to restart the game, it’s certainly sticking to it strictly. There’s an exploit: you just press Home/PS before you spend all of your lives, exit the game, restart the game, and you’re back with the number of lives you begin the level with. Aside from this jarring game design, almost everything else about this game is lovely.

The most attention-grabbing part of this game is the graphics. I love the polished-pixelated style, a la the developer Nitrome, a game studio I look up to. Also, this game feels a lot like a Flash game. The quality of its gameplay, the quirkiness and the innovation remind me of Nitrome.

There’s a little bit of story narrated through slides which you can’t skip. Again, an erratic game design because you have to witness it again and again (if you don’t use the exploit to cheat your way out of repeating the beginning levels)—though you can skim through it by pounding X, but that’s still too slow for my liking. You control the robot H7, who greatly reminds me of Gir from the Invader Zim TV series. Also, H7’s premise is the same as Gir; they are flawed machines of destruction. While Gir is more of a loony, H7’s anti-empathy system is disabled by a bug. H7 belongs to the army of an alien force that is invading Earth, but it switches sides.

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Moving on, H7 has a pretty excellent set of skills. You can throw its head all over the place by pressing O. The head thus serves as a weapon. You can freeze its head by pressing O again, at which point it then serves as a platform. H7 can jump on its head, when you press X, and when you press X one more time, its head becomes a trampoline! Aside from that, you can use its head to gather energy orbs and stars that are stashed in otherwise unreachable places.

You can collect energy orbs for extra lives, at first. Later, when you acquire your plasma gun, you use them as ammo. Filling your energy counter to 100% nets you an extra credit, and your energy then reverts back to 30%. You also glow when you are brimming with energy. This energy serves as a life extender; your energy disperses when enemy units hit you or trains or spikes pummel through you, in short when anything does damage to you. Sonic the Hedgehog does this also, only with his collected cheese ri—I mean, gold rings. Getting back on topic, receiving more damage after your energy level is low means you bounce off the screen and lose a life.

Aside from its head and the plasma gun, H7 can also use a horseshoe magnet. You just press Triangle in order to shuffle between the gun and the magnet. The magnet allows you to hang in midair while swinging back and forth to land on higher platforms. You just have to watch out for glowing blocks or rods of metal to use it. You can also suck in garbage can lids to use as a shield and as a weapon.

The level design is commendable. Every level is different from every other, even if they belong to the same stage. There are nice platforming elements, like riding on a log across an entire level in order to survive. H7’s skills bring out the best of the game, but add in the challenging enemies and the boss fights, the smooth and responsive controls, and you’ve got a game worth buying.

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The saving system is broken and questionable. It’s difficult to finish the game without a proper saving system because the boss fights are trial and error, and returning back to Level 1 every time you fail is excruciating. Finishing the game in Normal mode unlocks the Lunatic difficulty. There’s a high score table that tabulates the score, the amount (in percentage) of stars found and the level where the player met his maker, which in turn is the reason for the deletion of saved games during Game Overs. This could be easily remedied by wiping the score back to zero if players want to continue after Game Over and implementing the save deletion feature exclusively under the Lunatic difficulty. But hey, I’m not the developer.

There might be a glaring problem in game design, but the overall package is pretty impressive. This game is thinner in content when compared to other recent Minis, but it has some of the most versatile and enjoyable gameplay and level design you can find in any Mini. Legend of Robot is just a solid and polished traditional action-platformer, which, surprisingly, the Minis program has been lacking.

8.5/10

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Comments

15 Responses to “Legend of Robot Review—More Heads Are Better than None”
  1. agent069 says:

    I had no problem with the bosses, but then again I’m a fan of Mega Man and Ninja Gaiden lol. Anyway, I did not find the game frustrating at all, the save system is old school and it reminded me of the 90’s. The game should have been longer though, and it’s a shame that there is no way to play levels individualy for training or just to find all the hidden stars.

    Other than that I agree with your review, the gameplay is very tight, the levels are well designed and the graphics are great. That was some well spent 3€.

  2. pspgamer01 says:

    For me this is one of the 10 best minis.

  3. thumbbandit says:

    Hey, nice review Jasper… I’m glad that I wasn’t the only one who thought the save system was flawed… and exploited the home button. ;)

  4. Identity25 says:

    I initially dismissed the game instantly wen finding out it was on the UK store for £4.15. I would never buy it at that, but turns out it as incorrect and its £2.49

    Still not sure whether to get it though or wait for a sale. The save thing is putting me off a lot

  5. ChaosRandom says:

    Is the save issue patchable? This game looks awesome, but thats a big deal for me.

  6. sniper712 says:

    i think i still want it, plus i’ve always liked Invader Zim

  7. Nexus Prime says:

    So the save system is broken for the sake of their high score table set up? That’s ridiculous! I see that as the developer punishing people for supporting their game. I’ll pass.

    I hope this gets patched since the rest of the game sounds interesting.

  8. thumbbandit says:

    It’s not a bug that erases your progress… it’s the game itself… and because the game does this by design, it more than likely wont be updated. :(

  9. Hi everyone,

    David of The Bearded Ladies here. First of all thanks for the great review and once again thanks to all our gamocrats for designing a great game :) .

    Now to what seems to be the talking point around here… THE SAVE SYSTEM. Sadly this is one of the aspects that were meant to go onto the playstation forums for the community design/vote on but did not because the forums were down due to the DNS attacks.

    So we had to make the decision our selves and since had a lot of people requesting the final game to be “old school hard” we decided to remove the save option all together.. ..however since this is a PSP game (emulated on ps3) we realized that for people playing on the buss etc this would be terrible. So we opted to instead create a system where progress AND “defeat” was automatically saved.

    There will be no patching of this for two reasons :
    1 – We have not confirmed with our gamocrats how they would have wanted it done
    2 – Sony does not allow developers to patch minis!! (which makes it very final)

    And finally for those of you that would have preferred a “new school” approach with unlimited retries you can simply quit the game before loosing your last life and restart it. Since the game only saves on level progress or death you will be able to use your last save indefinately.. …just abit more hassle for those save/load/save/load types ;)

    Hope you all enjoy the game, sincerely :
    The Bearded Ladies

  10. onmode-ky says:

    “2 – Sony does not allow developers to patch minis!! (which makes it very final)”

    David, your information appears to be out of date. Many Minis have received patches. The patch/update process may not be the same as for non-Minis titles, but it is still possible and has been done multiple times. Examples of developers who have had Minis patched/updated include Icon Games, Laughing Jackal, FuturLab, Grip Games, Frima Studios, and others I’m forgetting at the moment.

  11. sniper712 says:

    Open Emotion to add to the list of patched minis. it probably still won’t stop me from getting it later. just have up suck it up on the “old school hard” with the only remedy (my opinion): play and get better at the game.

  12. Identity25 says:

    Cocunut dodge I think was the best example of this, similar to this game, there was one thing people didn’t like. In Cocunut dodge’s case it was only being given one life which hampered the gameplay. So they patched it and changed it to 3 lives (and adding an option to play the original one life game too)

  13. Captain Obvious saves the Day! says:

    ‘And finally for those of you that would have preferred a “new school” approach with unlimited retries you can simply quit the game before loosing your last life and restart it.’

    That sounds very comfortable and it’s very smart to make this feature obligatory.

    How about my approach: I would prefer “new school”, so I’m not buying it.

  14. confuletlyf says:

    That save thing is a little dissappointing, but I’m still stoked for when this game comes to NA. Any word on a release date yet?

  15. Soulstar says:

    It’s interesting to see how gaming culture has changed and how many people find problems with something such as the save feature, which I think personally for this game in particular is a good thing to have been included. I have played through the game 4 times and thats all it took for me to finish it on Lunatic with almost all the stars. Based on this, I felt that it was needed to keep the challenge alive.

    Of course, there is a bit of challenge in the game and some bits can take a bit of getting used to, but this isn’t hardly what many titles were back in the 90’s and 80’s as far as difficulty and frustration goes. I found the boss battles to be pretty easy on the whole as long as you have a good feel for the controls and know how to beat them properly. The fact that you can also regain health from orbs by making successful hits also makes it a little easier too. If this wasn’t the case, i’d have found the final boss a LOT more difficult.

    When I see this game I am reminded quite largely of the old Sonic games which are much longer in content. The levels in Legend of Robo7 are quite short and don’t take too long to learn.

    Overall for the price it’s pretty good. I got the game in the christmas pick n’ mix MINIS for the PS3, essentially costing me £0.64 which was extremely good value.

    It’s a good little game but could be bettered by being bigger. It’s a good place to start and should be returned back to one day I think.

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