Call it Robomon or Pokebot I do. Custom Robo is similar to Nintendo's monster-training game, except you've got a robot and an ever-growing collection of unique parts instead of a roster of fire-breathing puffballs. The bit where you vanquish evil (bots, in this case) in the name of truth and justice (cue victory pose) is about the same. This simple, no-frills approach to mechanized wrasslin' works: The battles are fast, the action is packed, and there's just the right amount of strategy, thanks to each holosseum's (your virtual battlegrounds) varied terrain. Customizing your bot with new weapons to fit your particular combat style is easily the best part, and the game is balanced well enough so that no one robo is all-powerful. But like Capcom's recent robo-fighter Gotcha Force (GC), Custom Robo is a single-player snooze-fest. The story mode feels like it's just there to keep you busy while you're unlocking new parts-- it is well written and has a few laughs, but it never breaks from its boring, formulaic nature. You'll spot the obvious plot twists a mile away, and it's not even exciting to watch, since the story's told through talking heads and text bubbles. I had hoped Custom Robo would set a high-water mark for robo-combat games, but I hoped for too much. Though the fighting's great (even when it's of the slightly confusing four-player variety), I can't help but be disappointed by the rest.
Nintendo finally brings this Japanese robo-battling series Stateside, and, well, it's pretty much OK. But don't be fooled by the role-playing vibe. Custom Robo follows the same pseudo-RPG archetype seen in Pokemon Colosseum--you explore a limited overworld and talk to townsfolk, but it's all just meaningless window dressing for spacing out the combat. Some of the dialogue is cute and clever, but the plot redefines predictability, and the quest ends far earlier than you'd expect. Thankfully, solid robot-on-robot combat helps redeem the game. As the name implies, it's all about deep customization: Different weapons, bodies, and legs alter your bot's performance tremendously. Even so, battles tend to be extremely intense, short, and easy. Multiplayer delivers the game's fiercest thrills...too bad you have to suffer through the talky RPG to unlock all the goodies.
CJ and Shane can dog Robo all they want on account of its story, but I thought we'd settled this: It's all about the gameplay. Virtual On's frantic robo-combat mixed with two parts Pokemon does it for me. The controls take a little getting used to, but in the long run, they prove to be even better than Virtual On's, and the number of customizable parts available is second only to the amount found in the mechanically fetishistic Armored Core series. The presentation skews a bit young in a schoolbook sort of way, but not nearly so much as Gotcha Force. Robo's an amalgamation of oddly similar themes that, in practice, gels as a fun and unique action-RPG.
Download Custom Robo
One of the biggest surprises at Space World '99 came from Noise (a team within second-party Japanese developer Marigul) in the form of Custom Robo. It can best be described as a mix between Virtual On, Robo-Pit and Pokemon. In the game's Story Mode you get your very first Custom Robo, "Lei," and head with your brother to the Robo Station's Holosseum, where other Custom Robo owners go to battle (yes, they're all holographic robots). When you get there, a huge battle breaks out, with rivals challenging you one by one. Your goal is to work your way up to the final showdown with Mamoru and gain the title of champion.
If that's not your speed, you can take control of 30 different robos and suit them up with weapons and armor of your choosing then battle either the computer or a human opponent. Combat takes place on a virtual battleground that zooms in/out and makes obstacles transparent so you can see your opponent. It's easy to pick up and a lot of fun to play. Nintendo will publish the game this November in japan.
Custom Robo is an almost grown-up Pokemon trapped behind a sea of unnecessary text-drive plot. The franchise, available in Japan since the days of the Nintendo 64, pits you against a slew of opponents duking it out in custom robots in a holographic battle arena.
The mechanics of actual game play aren't that bad, but the stream of mindless text plot you need to wade though to get to the all too brief encounters make the single player game more of an annoyance than a joy to play. The basic plot, and that's about all that's there, is that you are working for a group of mercenaries assisting the police in thwarting crimes. The crimes eventually start to lead you to a faceless evil corporation bent on world domination.
To battle a criminal you stand in front of him and launch into a holographic arena, once in the area you duke it out in customized robots. The graphics are humdrum and the sound downright annoying at time, chattering away with blips and white noise instead of voice acting.
The robots are all highly customizable, allowing you to swap the bodies, legs, guns and missiles of each one to build something completely unique. There are 200 parts to choose from and the changes you make have a substantial impact on the robot's looks and ability.
Once you customize your bot you're launched into one of 30 battlefields. Unfortunately the battles are a little too simplistic. Button mashing allows you to fire guns, missiles and bombs, jump or dash. The battles are a fun experience, but not really worth the build ' mostly because the end so quickly.
The multiplayer modes make up, in part, for the mistakes of the single player mode ' stripping down the game to the essentials of battle ' but there still just isn't enough game here to keep you occupied for very long.