Thursday, 27 February 2014

Robocop NES

You've seen the film, now suffer the 8-bit

In one of those moves to capitalise on the popularity and success of the arcade game, the NES version of Robocop was brought in within a year as a "sort of" port to the gaming industry. In what seems to be an acceptable practise, games would be produced on one machine and then other companies that worked on other formats (i.e. Started in Arcade, then would be made for C64, Nes, ZX81 etc) in order to bring the game to other machines in a way that could be played but wasn't quite the same standard as the original arcade game. Sometimes these games were VERY close to the original (Take Bubble Bobble as an example) and in other cases the game was.. well, let us just say that it wasn't very much like the original and in many cases was either a passing similarity or more of an "in name only" kind of concept.

So instead of getting a near approximation of the arcade game we get this instead... You can likely tell by now which tone I'll be adopted for this review. Well done for recognising a pattern, aren't you clever.

I can only imagine robo is blowing one fat raspberry at this point.

6 levels of platform trawling (you don't jump) where Robocop will walk slowly from one side to another and gradually punch and shoot his way past thugs, mugs and under-world scum, beat off dogs (not like that...) helicopters, large people that are bullet proof (mostly...) an odd assortment of bosses and villains ranging from generic tough guy that can be encountered repeatedly later on, to Miller who held the mayor hostage to ED209 (twice) and so on.

Like the arcade game, there's punching and shooting, though unlike arcade there's the lovely incapacity that is the game deciding "No guns here" and forcing you to punch everything once again. The arcade did this initially and never again, but this game will occasionally FORCE it upon you while fighting pretty much the same enemies you were while having access to the gun. On top of this, you'll have a time limit (which gets VERY tight in the last levels) and a health bar where you tank damage (or not, seriously, at what point did a dog bite through Titanium Alloy armour?). Your weapons range from the pistol to the machine gun to the cobra cannon so it's nice to see that little nod of acknowledgement.

Wow... can we get any more supposedly patriotic? It really doesn't work on non US audiences

There's slightly more focus (ONLY SLIGHTLY) than the arcade game in keeping with the theme of the film. The 2nd level for example is set entirely around the siege with the mayor and your boss being the very guy that Robo punches out of a window (to land on a crash mat that isn't entirely out of shot and used again in the news report, but enough movie mistakes here). Not only do you have to traverse the building and search various rooms, you'll also be able to actually punch through the walls to find secret routes and then take on the boss in a shootout with a hostage and then kill him. It's nice to see that the NES throws in things that the original arcade didn't touch upon.

The third level takes place in the warehouse, akin to the films drug factory. Followed by going to OCP headquarters which is what happens next after interrogating Clarrence Boddicker (yep.. dicker..) followed by the showdown at the steel mill (film again) then back to OCP (like in the film!) If anything that should be praised here is that the game follows the film rather than just using it as ideas for backdrops, it sticks fairly closely to the plot and mimics it in the cut-scenes between levels which is a lot more impressive than the arcade managed to do it.

The problem however is that the arcade focused on gameplay and responsiveness and the NES... didn't.

Possibly the most impressive graphic in the game, and even here it has glitched.

Graphically speaking, this game is ugly. The backgrounds are almost enough to make me puke blood in disgust (especially the first level) but redeems itself by having one of the HUGEST ED-209 bosses I've seen in a game, so big in fact that they boss fight(s) tend to be in dark rooms so the graphics can be focused on rendering him in-game (a shame he's so easy to beat if you have the machinegun).

It can also be hard to work out where the doors are in the game and sometimes the sensitivity and precision required to enter the door can be a nightmare. It's also a little odd in trying to go through a door and having never encountered one before, not realising you can go through the door in the first place. Often a fun thing to witness while you run back and forth trying to find what you're missing until you die of time-out. Yay, use another continue.

You'll learn to love these moments, it's when the music is different

Incidentally, dying = new life = continue = restart the whole level and slowly walk through it again. As you can see, this is a key formula for qualifying for dickmove-university. Especially annoying on level 6 where you start on a backwards moving conveyor belt and goes EVEN MORE SLOWLY for your progress. Aside from this, there's a lot of other inconsistencies where some doors can be walked into on the horizontal plane on which you walk, while other doors are rather more disgusting in that you have to push up to walk through them while they look like these other doors that you can hobble your way through with your oh-so-limited frames of animation.

Controls are an absolute shitbagbastard, of the highest order. Stairs are a nightmare to try and ascend or descend while the actual act of picking up items is still a case of TeaBagging Hit or Miss wherein you need to duck but have to be almost pixel perfect in your positioning just to get a battery or health bar. Later enemies have the lovely ability to hit you no matter where you are and serve JUST to drain your health until you slap it down.

Punch fight. Bullets don't do shit here. Yes it's as dull as this picture looks.

There is far too much dependency upon having perfect timing for the game to be any real fun and it becomes quickly a slog through the hardest and slowest forms of gaming if only because your reaction times need to be super human and your control with the not-so-entirely-accurate-control-system(more hyphens please) has to be above and beyond.

Avoid this. It's a disaster of a game that's ONLY saving grace is that it sticks far more rigidly to the plot of the original film than the first arcade game does.

A boss fight... It's about as many enemies as you'll get on screen at once.

And the music... you'll be begging for a different tune on the levels, it's the same cheese-fest schmaltzy rubbish of the original theme tune. Actually you know what, fuck this. Go watch the original film instead while playing the arcade version.

And avoid the shitty remake film!
...Afterwards, blow my brains out for having to suffer this game.