Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Robocop (NES review)

Developer: SAS Sakata / Data East Corporation
Publisher: Data East Corporation / Ocean Software
Released: 1989

Robocop is an action game that's based on the hit 1987 movie.


Your job is to stop the senseless violence on the streets of Detroit and eliminate the evil mastermind Dick Jones. Across the game's six levels, Robocop's default attack is a punch, but weapons can occasionally be used such as a Machine Gun. For extreme situations, pressing the Select button allows you to become temporarily invincible, at the expense of a rapid energy decrease. The gameplay is somewhat similar to Kung Fu (1985, NES) and Rush 'N' Attack (1987, NES), only much more unpolished with clumsy, ho-hum level design that fails to provide any memorable moments. The hit detection is spotty and you'll often take damage despite clearly punching an enemy sprite before it reaches you. Also, considering Robocop can't jump, this leaves you with no choice but to eat punches in many circumstances. Enemy patterns are cheap too, as enemies often arrive on opposite sides at exactly the same moment to inflict unavoidable damage. Climbing stairs is weirdly difficult, but what's most puzzling is that the game only allows you to use punches or weapons at pre-determined spots; this removes any strategic decision making and it's incredibly jarring when Robocop decides to exclusively use his fists to battle the same enemy types you were just mowing down; even limiting the default Auto-9 gun would have been ideal instead of artificially increasing the challenge by taking away your long-range attacks! There are some semi-decent bosses though (as well as target practice bonus rounds), and while the graphics aren't spectacular, there are some cool cut-scenes to introduce each stage.

Robocop is poorly developed with little thought put into what makes a fun and engaging action title. By limiting your attacks, the developers effectively neutered your abilities and enjoyment, all the while making sure the gameplay is littered with shoddy programming to increase the annoyance factor even further.



Random trivia: Two sequels were released on the NES; Robocop 2 (1991) and Robocop 3 (1992).

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