Game Over Online ~ RoboBlitz

GameOver Game Reviews - RoboBlitz (c) Naked Sky Entertainment, Reviewed by - Thomas Wilde

Game & Publisher RoboBlitz (c) Naked Sky Entertainment
System Requirements Xbox 360
Overall Rating 70%
Date Published Thursday, January 18th, 2007 at 04:47 PM

Divider Left By: Thomas Wilde Divider Right

The best way to summarize RoboBlitz is that it's harder than it has to be. It has old-school platformer flavor drooling from its every metaphorical orifice, but a couple of deeply questionable design decisions mar the action.

RoboBlitz is set on a space station at some point in the distant future. Blitz is one of two on-site robot technicians charged with maintaining the station, and is the only one of the two who's actually mobile. Thus, when space pirates attack the station, it falls to Blitz to defend the station against them.

The game consists of a hub surrounded by several independent areas of the station. In each area, Blitz must engage the pirates that have entered the station as well as overcome the station's hazards. Due to poor maintenance and disuse, he'll have to fix a lot of the station's systems while he's at it. Finally, his job is to activate and fire the station's Space Cannon, destroying the pirates' mothership.

It's a fairly decent storytelling device, as platformers go, and it neatly avoids the strange and arbitrary world design that a lot of similar games have to deal with. Blitz isn't thrown into an ice level or a fire level because, oh look, it's Stage 4 and that means it's lava o'clock; he's fixing the coolant system or turning on a smelter.

While he's exploring these levels, Blitz can pick up Upgradium chips, which can be turned in for new weapons, armor, and abilities at the ship's machine shop. This is an absolutely vital part of the game, because Blitz begins with a weak melee attack and a weaker set of EMP lasers. In the world of robot combat, Blitz's EMP lasers are the rough equivalent of a mall cop's flashlight. Like Zelda or Ninja Gaiden, RoboBlitz is a game that gets the really hard part over with in the first thirty minutes or so.

The biggest problem I have with the game, frankly, is that Blitz does not have legs. Blitz has a wheel. That means that he controls sort of like how your average run'n'gun platformer hero does when he's stuck in the inevitable ice level. He crashes into walls a lot, skids to a halt, struggles to jump over even short ledges, and most damning of all, seems to be permanently stuck in a low gear.

One of the early stages, set in the smelter where ammunition for the Space Cannon is made, is largely set in a huge room full of grooves and ramps, and I died because Blitz couldn't get up a hill in time to avoid a missile salvo. It's like whoever built him was working on a strict budget.

Blitz also has a problem with picking up and letting go of items, which makes theoretically simple operations like stacking blocks on top of one another kind of ridiculously hard to pull off. Naturally, there's at least one stage where to complete it, you must... stack blocks. Great.

Blitz's control problems wouldn't be a big deal in a lot of games, but RoboBlitz was designed to be challenging. It's not easy, and wouldn't be one even if Blitz controlled like a dream. RoboBlitz features obstacles like crushing ceiling traps that have no discernible pattern, rotating gears that will impart momentum to Blitz and throw him onto a bed of spikes, a level that's one big reflecting-light puzzle, wind tunnels, flights of missile-chucking enemy drones, and more conveyor belts than you could've ever believed existed.

On the plus side, RoboBlitz looks absolutely amazing for an Xbox Live Arcade game; it wouldn't be at all out of place on the PlayStation 2. The textures are clear, the colors are refreshingly not entirely brown and gray, and the animation is smooth.

The presentation is fine, and RoboBlitz's sheer challenge factor will probably attract serious platformer fans. It's frustrating, though, and all the moreso when a seemingly simple task just refuses to work for no good reason. If a RoboBlitz 2 were to happen, I'd hope that Blitz's first upgrade would be a set of legs.


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