Game Over Online ~ Robopon 2: Ring & Cross Versions

GameOver Game Reviews - Robopon 2: Ring & Cross Versions (c) Atlus Software, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher Robopon 2: Ring & Cross Versions (c) Atlus Software
System Requirements Game Boy Advance
Overall Rating 70%
Date Published Wednesday, July 31st, 2002 at 04:06 PM


Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

On any given day, a quick glance at eBay's video game listings will show much more than merely video games on the auction block. The real hot commodities are items; not just any items, but special, exotic or otherwise rare items in multiplayer games. That type of collectables hobby is really what drives Robopon 2, a game that focuses on building Robopons, tweaking them and pitting your creations in combat.

Rather than simply pitching a workshop or arena mode to players, Robopon 2 is wrapped up in a storyline that visually reflects the canonical Japanese RPG style. Indeed, much of the title, including the Robopons and the protagonist, Cody, draw inspirations from overseas. Assuming the role of Cody, the holder of the coveted title Legend 1, you strike out in a new land in Robopon 2, traversing through neon-lit cityscapes, circus towns, tech worlds, dungeons and much more. Cody awakes, washed up on the land of Majiko. But as he travels, he soon realizes that not all is right. With the help of Professor Don and his assistant, Cody will have to travel through time to defeat the evil Maskman. As such, you move around the highly colorful landscape through a top-down view. Each world, of course, merely provides context for the primary activity in Robopon 2: Robopon combat.

Combat is played out in the traditional console RPG sense, complete with random battles and individual (boss) challenges. Your units will line up on one side of the screen and the enemy will be on the other. From there, you use your Robopon's skills to defeat the enemy. Upon victory, money, experience and items will be awarded but this title provides a curious spin on how you'll be able to use them. It turns out you'll use these resources, under advisement from characters like Hoffman and Dr. Disc, to build new Robopons or enhance existing ones.

The piece de resistance of the Robopon unit is the ability to enhance them. Much like mechs are customizable by piecemeal in the Battletech/Mechwarrior series, you can buy parts and even software from stores to enhance your Robopon. There are three fundamental Robopon types: Arm, Move and Boot. The first is the most balanced Robopon while the Move robot reflects its literal name; it moves quickly. The last one cannot receive any parts or software and relies exclusively on leveling up to gain better abilities. The most important item you can gain throughout your travels and encounters are batteries. These are the DNA birthstones for each Robopon. Combining different batteries will create different types of Robopons. The game literally encourages you to experiment, such that at the end of the day, your parts/software/battery/skill combinations will effectively create a unique battle unit. For example, equipping different permutations of software will create advanced skills. Depending on which version of Robopon 2 you have, Cross or Ring, you'll also create different Robopon robots. Coupled with the ability to customize Robopon's appearance, here's where the heart of the collectable fun lies in Robopon 2.

Robopon 2 sounds like a title that is built on social interactivity and it features plenty of multiplayer features. There's the usual battle or deathmatch option where you simply take your stable of Robopons and duke it out with a human opponent. However, there's also a Spark mode, where you can combine batteries to create 'rare' Robopons. Some simple minigames are also included, ergo there games as simple as choosing a Robopon from your creations to see who can hit a punching bag the strongest.

So far, Robopon 2 sounds a little juvenile. In some ways, it is, since this is a time consuming hobby and to get anywhere far in Robopon 2 will require hours of repetitive tweaking. Its premise is very much like the Pokemon craze, or, if you think a few more years back, the Magic: The Gathering craze. It's about experimenting in a combinatory fashion: the science or chemistry set pastime for the pre-video game generation. That's the best analogy I could make. However, to place all the eggs in this one basket means that basket must be a hard sell. This was problematic during my experience with Robopon 2 when I relied mostly on two or three well-balanced Robopons for the entire game; swapping one out to cater to peculiar adversaries I came up against.

Success of these titles ultimately requires a bustling fan base and community. When I made the reference to multiplayer game items on eBay, I referred mostly to PC examples. It follows that the creation of a community is one of the best things the PC platform is able to do, par excellence. That's not a given with the GBA platform, especially when Robopon, as a franchise, has earned a 'Pokemon-clone' epithet. Holistically, the title is billed as an RPG. Certainly a riveting storyline could be the salvation for those who are not enamored with the Robopon concept. Unfortunately, the one included in Robopon 2 is merely functional. It's a skillful collectable game that features a plot that exists only to support a skillful collectable game.

 

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Rating
70%
 

 

 
 

 

 

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