The SNES was a system with an incredible selection of RPGs. Although companies like Square and Capcom dominated this category almost entirely, a good RPG would pop up occasionally from different sources. Enix was one of those companies who built a few unsung RPGs for this system, and Robotrek was one of them. Although it was definitely not of the same caliber as FF6, very few companies ever make games that good.
Our story begins in the not-too-distant future, a land where robots help lumberjacks wipe out forests and mad scientists create monstrous Doom’s day devices. You take the role of a young child whose father was one of the greatest inventors of all time. However, he is currently missing. Meanwhile, a gang of rather dimwitted thugs has dominated your hometown. All over the world, this gang is using violence and terrorism to control the masses, and even governments are forced to bow down to these punks. The only family you have is a cyber-mom your dad left you to help care for the house. If you ask me, I’d say it’s time to build a kung fu fighting robot and save the world.
Gameplay in Robotrek is innovative in some ways, but still retains the simplicity that any game for a younger audience should have. Movement throughout towns and dungeons is pretty standard, and the overworld map is equally old school, but the battles are far more interesting. Your main character is a 98-pound weakling who can barely lift a wrench, so obviously he needs someone else to fight for him. By the strangest coincidence, your father just happened to be the creator of the Invention Machine! All you have to do is think of something you want, pay the machine whatever the item’s cost may be, and out comes anything from a pair of boots to a weather-controlling device.
When you start, all you can build is a robot, but they are the only fighters you get in the game, so don’t complain. You can get up to three robots in all, and each one has certain strengths and weaknesses. The hero merely runs up to an enemy and lets the robot do the work, only stepping in to cheer or throw in an item or two.
In battle, you move the robots around the battlefield in what could be described as a Proto-FFT. Battle is turn based and consists of one robot and up to three enemies. Whenever you attack, you enter a code of X, L, and R buttons, and if entered correctly, your robot will unleash a somewhat impressive technique, but only if you’re equipped with the right weapons. If you have a sword in one hand and a shield in the other, you won’t be able to do a special move requiring bombs or guns or lasers.
The list of equipment is large and the different types let you customize each robot to a significant degree. The game also has a variety of items that no other game has ever equaled. Although many are the usual, “Restores 50% of a robot’s HP” or, “Cures Rust”, this game also has infrared goggles, rain machines, sun machines, pocket sized jets, and a nifty little human/mouse transformer.
The concept of experience and money is different than any that I have ever seen. Experience is rewarded to the child, and when he levels up, not only does he get five more status points to give to the robots, but he can also read more inventor magazines and learn to build more wacky inventions.
After each battle, the enemy you killed will flash momentarily, and then disappear. The only way to get money or items is to move your character during this flashing period. If you move in the correct sequence of one to five steps up, down, left, or right, the enemy will leave a parting gift. Once you learn the “Dance” for any type of enemy, you can always get items from them by doing the same set of steps. The variety of things to do earns an 86% in the Gameplay department.
RT followed the basic routine for SNES RPGs. The colorful sprites run around on the tile floors until they bump into an enemy. In battle, even more sprites run around a colorful screen bashing each other into scrap. The backgrounds have a lot of variety and the enemies are interesting, to say the least. The characters are large, bright, and easily recognized. For an SNES game, it didn’t fare too badly. Graphics get a 79%.
When it comes to childish plots, this game comes in second, only being beaten by EarthBound. The dialogue contains many bad jokes, but at least they were translated well. The game may be silly, but it does get points for originality. The plot contains countless twists and turns that force you to explore some areas repeatedly, but new areas are always opened up to prevent any boredom.
Puzzles are sprinkled generously throughout the game, but they are usually easy enough to be beaten without causing too much aggravation and are childish enough to add some humor to the already bright and cheery game. Mini-quests and sub-plots are common enough to give the game a good replay value, and some bosses are hard enough to keep you busy in this game for a good, long time. Story gets an 82%.
Personally, I loved this game’s music. As soon as you turn it on, a parade of robots runs across the screen to the RT theme song. I don’t care that there isn’t an orchestra playing in the background to Celes’ opera scene or if the game lacks any alteration in its choice of instruments. Each song is silly, childish, immature, and catchy. However, the sounds were a little weak and it probably could have used FF6 quality sound, but I still think it deserves an 86%
Robotrek was meant for children, but it has a decent replay value, a large variety of enemies, a peculiar battle system, and countless secret areas to explore. You can’t get tired of the music without a struggle and the story was surprisingly well done. I think this game deserved a lot more attention than it got. Overall, Robotrek gets an 85%.
Gameplay – Straight out of the movie, “Clang, Clang! You’re Dead!” 86%
Graphics – Nothing special. 79%
Story – Techno-riffic. 82%
Sound/Music – I haven’t played it for two years and I still remember a few songs. 86%
Overall – A very unappreciated game. 85%