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
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.