Robotron 64 | Retro Review | Nintendo 64 - Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Thursday, January 16, 2020

Robotron 64 | Retro Review | Nintendo 64

by Danny Bivens

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For those of you looking for some old arcade action, Robotron 64 might be up your alley. An updated version of the classic arcade shooter, Robotron 2084, this Nintendo 64 title sets out to emulate the same old school feel as the original in a more modern (at the time) package. I picked this up back in early 1998 after reading a couple of reviews. It sounded really cool at the time, but after playing for a bit, I was initially put off and didn’t care for it. Actually, I eventually traded it to a friend for another game (Link to the Past!). Now, nearly 20 years later, I decided to give the game another go to see if it would click. So, just how does the game fare all these years later?

Each stage in Robotron 64 is like a mini arena that are filled with different enemies that you will need to destroy. Once you clear out all of the enemies, you can move on to the next level. Waves of enemies warp in as you play. The enemy types are actually quite varied here, too, with grunts, flying grunts, big brain enemies, tanks, UFOs, insects and more. The longer you stay alive, the faster the enemies will move. Not only that, but some enemies also shoot projectiles, so you’ll have to constantly be on your toes.
Having arcade roots, Robotron 64 is a high score based game. Obviously, you get points from taking out enemies. You can also nab some points by “rescuing” humans that are wandering around the stages. Power-ups are also available randomly that can give you extra firepower, shields and even warps to jump to further levels. There are a total of 200 levels to play. Controller Pak saves and a password system are supported so you can pick up from where you left off at any time.

The controls in Robotron 64 are interesting. The original arcade game relied on a dual stick setup that allowed the player to control the character with one stick and to shoot with the other. With the Nintendo 64 lacking a second analog stick, the shooting is handled with the C-buttons. Of course, you can shoot up, down, left and right, but you can also shoot at diagonals by pressing two buttons at once. Oddly enough, there is also an option to use a dual analog setup with two controllers. It's easy to do, too - all you have to do is just have a controller plugged into the second controller port. I spent the majority of my time playing the game with one controller, but I will say, that the two controller setup actually worked quite nicely.
In terms of visuals, Robotron 64 isn’t really much of a looker, even for the time (January 1998). The game does feature full 3D models, but they definitely are definitely low-poly. However, this seems to have been a somewhat intentional move. Because of this, the game runs at an extremely smooth frame rate, pretty much never skipping a beat. This is pretty important, too, especially when you have dozens of enemies on the screen at the same time trying to tear you a new one. (Despite the simplistic visuals, the overall visual aesthetics are fantastic. )

The music here is absolutely fantastic. While there aren’t too many tracks, what’s on offer here perfectly fits with the aesthetic of the game. The variety of techno beats will stick with you well after you’ve put down the controller.

While Robotron 64 never saw an official release in Japan, it is interesting to note that the game did see a release here on the PlayStation. If you didn’t know, Robotron 64 is actually a port of the PlayStation version of the game (titled Robotron X) which was released in 1996. Publishing duties in Japan were handled by a company called Soft Bank (I’m pretty sure no relation to the Japanese mobile carrier). These guys were responsible for publishing tons of games on the MSX in the 80s and other more modern western classics in Japan, such as Doom and Area 51 on the PlayStation and Sega Saturn. You can find a list of their published games here.
Robotron 64 was a game that I really didn’t care for back when it was released. However, fast forward nearly two decades later, and I found myself really enjoying my time with the game. It’s not much of a looker, but what is on offer here is a lot of arcade fun dispersed into short bursts. It’s totally worth checking out if you’re looking for some fast paced old school action.

*Note* Robotron 64 logo used in the thumbnail was made by friend of the site, Nico Vliek. You can see all of the other awesome remastered N64 logos at the here. Be sure to follow him on Twitter if you haven't already @Whatddupnico.

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