Saturday 3 July 2021

Robocop 3 (NES review)

Developer: Probe Software
Publisher: Ocean
Released: 1992

Robocop 3 is an action game and the follow-up to 1991's NES title from Data East Corporation / Ocean Software. 

There's five stages and your task is to battle the Rehab Officers and stop them from constructing a new Delta City. Your default weapons are a single fire gun and missiles, but both can be upgraded to allow for abilities such as scattered bullets or explosive blasts. Compared to the previous game, it's pleasing that Robocop no longer walks as if he's on ice and momentum-based jumping has been axed! Unfortunately, there are many inexplicable control issues; for starters, Robocop often refuses to turn to the opposite side and you'll find yourself furiously bashing the d-pad while being shot in the back. Likewise, to switch directions while ducking you'll first have to stand up... not ideal when you're facing an onslaught of bullets from both sides! Also, you're unable to fire diagonally unless standing still; in a twitch-based game with enemies shooting at you from all angles the result of this control oddity is many cheap hits. Speaking of which, most times you'll take damage will be from bad guys that shoot off-screen, giving you zero time to react. The ability to switch weapons on the fly is a terrific idea though and patient gamers who are willing to learn layouts and enemy patterns might find some enjoyment. However, while Stage 3 introduces a jet pack ability that might seem fun, it's a gimmick that only serves to make dodging enemy bullets even more maddening. Considering there's only five stages you'd expect each one to be distinct, yet Stage 4 is an unfathomable copy of the previous one, only this time you have no jet pack and need to walk back to the beginning of the level in reverse!

Robocop 3 does so many things wrong and whether you're talking about level design, enemy placement or controls there's always something that could be considered game-breaking. It's also very short in length and has an artificially inflated difficulty that's the result of its technical deficiencies and seemingly rushed development.

Random trivia: The cover artwork was created by Greg Winters, the same artist who created the cover for Streets of Rage (1991, Sega Genesis).

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