Thursday, September 20, 2012

Retrobot [Endeavor Bros + Monkube] - $2.99

Monkube broke into the iOS scene being the first developer to mix an arcade gameplay experience with a story told through comic strips when they released the fantastic title 6th Planet. Since then, the game has received a couple updates, with it’s most recent giving it GameCenter support. Granted, 6th Planet might not have been the first iOS game to incorporate comic strips, nor the last, but it was the first that put a very strong emphasis on the comic segments, and, until last week, was still the only one to do so. Now, along with Endeavor Bros, we’ve finally got another comic strip driven arcade title in the AppStore; Retrobot. 

Retrobot tells the story of a robot who’s teamed up with his creator’s monkey, Toto, after the inventor, Spencer, was kidnapped. In the world of Retrobot, robots are basically everywhere, doing the menial and task driven jobs that humans use to do. Retrobot and Toto spend most of their time playing video games, which comes in handy as the two are trying to rescue Spencer, because they both look at the world as one big video game, and see themselves as heroes on a quest to save their master. 

The artwork in Retrobot is fantastic, and given to gamers in hi-resolution images with some great detail, and loads of polish throughout both the comic sections and the in-game graphics. It’s definitely a highlight of the game, which is pretty rare to see in a casual arcade title such as this. The music and sound effects are also very well done, helping to add to the arcady feel of the whole gameplay experience. 

Now, the core gameplay is a lot like Kiai Game’s Color Bandits. You’re given a slider for left and right movement, and a half circle to shoot in a 180 degree radius all around you. Early on, there’s only a couple of enemies that you’ll need to face, but as you progress throughout the game, more and more are added, and the difficulty rises quite a bit. 
There are random power-up, shield and health drops from enemies as you make your way through the levels, giving you a fire projectile and a spread shot, as well as EMP pickups that destroy almost every enemy on the screen. The EMP and shield pickups are limited to 3, with the shield icon on the left and the EMP on the right, being able to activate them whenever you wish. The shield protects you from all enemy projectiles, and lets you run into ground robots, destroying most of them. There is one big ground robot that you will not be able to destroy with your shield and, in fact, if it lands on you while jumping, even when your shield is active, you’ll be instantly destroyed. The only down-side to the shield is that you are unable to fire your weapons when it’s active, making it pretty useless until you’re facing bosses later on the game. 

I have come across a couple of issues while playing Retrobot, some of which have been very frustrating. Just about every time I exit the game, I seem to loose progress. With 9 levels shown on the level select screen, it makes it not seem as bad, but with each of those having 2, or sometimes 3 stages within them, the data loss is actually fairly large. I’ve tried exiting the game in multiple areas, mid-level, at the level select screen, by exiting back to the main menu and then exiting, but each time I loose at least 1 level on the map, putting me back about 2-3 stages every time I exit. There have been times when I’ve lost more, going back 2 levels, loosing about 6 stages of progress. This has also happened when restarting a level from within the pause menu, which really makes no sense at all to me. Aside from the data loss, there have also been times when the sound quit completely in the middle of a cut-scene, with the only way to get it back being to pause the game, putting my device in sleep mode, and then starting it back up. 

However, even with these issues, Retrobot is still a game that I’m enjoying quite a bit, which is made even more humorous given the fact that there is GameCenter integration, but no achievements or leaderboards, and that the game isn’t anything unique or original. It’s basically a mix between Color Bandits and 6th Planet with loads of data loss issues. But. Yes, but. Retrobot has that spark, that charm, that keeps me coming back to it, even though I’ve had to replay numerous levels multiple times. I can only image how much more fun I’d be having with it if the issues weren’t there, and it did have true GameCenter support. 

Priced at $0.99 for launch, with the original price set at $2.99, and being Universal, Retrobot is a game that’s still kind of hard to recommend. For $0.99, it’s definitely worth picking up if you’re a fan of Action/Arcade games that you can play from beginning to end, see the credits roll, and delete from your device. Priced at $2.99, I think there’s too many frustrating issues, and with the lack of GameCenter, you might want to wait until there’s an update that deals with the data issues before you think about picking it up, and given the large spaces between updates when it came to 6th Planet, there’s a pretty large possibility that these issues will not be dealt with any time soon, which is a damn shame. Hopefully Monkube, Ape Entertainment and Endeavor Bros can give Retrobot the attention it deserves, and bring out it’s full potential in the near future. 


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