Whenever anyone makes any kind of big-budget project, they’ll want to cut costs whenever possible. The more projects they have under their belt, the more they can recycle for newer projects. During the Super Nintendo era, RPGs were at the height of their popularity. Developer Quintet alongside Publisher Enix was releasing some of the best. However, when your games are that popular, there is the temptation to get another game out as fast as possible. That is how we ended up with a rushed-out game called Robotrek.
The Role You Play
You play as the yet-to-be-named son of the inventor Dr. Akihabara. You can access a lab and create inventions and other tools that help you navigate dungeons and other obstacles. These inventions include a surprise horn for scaring off enemies, a device that helps you talk to animals, and a drill for drilling through walls.
One of your main inventions is a robot that fights for you. They can be named and equipped with a wide variety of weapons and other equipment, and they are all fully customizable. You have full control of their stats, and you can make them focus on offense, defense, speed, or any combination you choose.
The plot begins with an Inventor named Dr. Akihabara and his son (the protagonist) arriving in the town of Rococo. The town is being disrupted by an evil group of troublemakers called the hackers. The Hackers are in search of a stone called Tetron, which allows its wielder to see events in the past or the future. The tetron has been broken into three parts, and you need to acquire it before the Hackers do.
There is a bit of variety in Robotrek’s gameplay. Most of it is the combat, where you are commanding one of your robots to fight against one or more enemies. You have to navigate through open space and position your robot to attack with a sword, gun or bomb. You can also open chests and acquire items, weapon upgrades and extra XP.
The other element of the gameplay is navigating the dungeons. You will have to utilize multiple inventions to navigate throughout the dungeons, including a flashlight, a surprise horn, x-ray specs, and a device that transforms you into a mouse just to name a few.
There are a lot of areas to explore in Robotrek. While sometimes progressing to the next area can be straightforward, other times, it isn’t There can be a lot of trial and error when it comes to figuring out where you’re supposed to go next. It can involve talking to the right person or using the right item. Between that and navigating all of the enemies and the different dungeon obstacles, Robotrek clocks in somewhere between 20-25 hours.
While Robotrek is a pretty long adventure and it takes you to some diverse locations, it tends to reuse its music a lot. Small enemy encounters are frequent, so you hear the battle music frequently. Several of the dungeon themes also get reused a lot. To top it all off, they aren’t particularly memorable songs to begin with. A lot of the music sounds very synthetic and cartoonish, and the rest just sounds generic and stereotypical.
While it may seem commonplace now, a Robotrek’s feature of having a squad of fighters to fight on behalf of the protagonist was new for RPGs. You also have the ability to fully customize all three of your robots. Additionally, you can pick their colors, their equipment, and have full control of all of their stats. You can also change them at any point in the game. This means you can adapt your team to fit your play style or adjust to the needs of whatever situation you are in at that point in the game.
The Talking Parts
The dialogue is generic and forgettable. A lot of the dialogue scenes are basically just instructions to get you from point A to Point B. There are some cartoonish sprite animations here and there, but it feels like just meeting the bare minimum requirements for the game. When the dialog isn’t dull or simplistic, it feels like it was badly translated. It makes dialog exchanges awkward and confusing when you are trying to figure out where to go or what to do.
Z…We’ve Reached the End. Anything Else?
A lot of the character sprites and designs of Robotrek are borrowed from other Enix RPGs in the Quintet trilogy. Many of the NPC character sprites feel like they were heavily inspired by other Quintet games. Without that, Robotrek doesn’t seem like it would have had enough material to have been made into a complete game.
Robotrek has several interesting ideas that make up its core concept. Unfortunately, there just isn’t enough of an experience for it to qualify as a worthwhile game. I really want to like this game because of its concept and gameplay, but you’ll experience that in the first hour or two. There is no reason to play the game all the way through, as much as I wish there was one.
Final Score: 5/10
Action Ancient Ape Asymmetric Cyberpunk Deep Silver Dungeon Crawler Enix fantasy First Person Greg Lebanov Hal Hanako Games Humble Games Humble Hearts Hypetrain DIgital indie Jeremy Noghani Kemco metroidvania mice Mother Natsume nintendo pixel heart Playstation Quintet retro Robotrek RPG Sci-Fi Simulation Slapstick soedesco So Romantic Square Studio Pixel Punk Super Nintendo Taito Techland turn-based Vampire western Zelda-Like Zombie