Format reviewed: Commodore 64
Developer: Steve Tomson
Submitted by: James Evans
Film licences were about 95% snapped up by Ocean back in the day. They made some classics and they made some utter turgid turds. This one curiously sits in the middle.
The game starts off as a side scrolling shooter with relatively well perceived sprites apart from the identikit goons popping through windows albeit different colour shirts, there isn't much else to look at. The backdrops look drab and dreary but then again so does Detroit in the film so fair enough.
Gameplay wise it is a bit of a mixed bag – the shooting works ok and there are several powerups that enemies drop such as 3 way bullets. the collision on the shooting is also very well done.
The main problem is the controls. Many enemies are in high up windows and Robo can shoot up, but the game decides when to look up to shoot and when to jump. When a game is getting it this fundamentally wrong in what is the mainstay of the genre – the shooting, the game is going to suffer on the whole.
It does have nice touches though, get through some of the dodgy side on sections and there are some nice touches that stay true to the film – the second level for example is a target shoot level where you stop the goon holding the woman at knife point in the alley. Just don't aim for his Johnson like in the film… you only get one life so you will be staring at the title screen in no time.
Being a huge C64 fan it is always gutting when a title loses in quality to the Amstrad version, but there you have it. I've said it now. Ironically, check out all the names already on the leaderboard – they will be all the feelings you will have towards what could have been so much more. All else im saying is once again thank god for Jonathan Dunn on the music.
Format reviewed: NES/Famicom
Publisher: Data East
Developer: Data East
Submitted by: Michael Levy
Movies that are turned into games are notorious for failing miserably during translation. During the 1980s, the 8-bit consoles and computers were home to some of the most brutal conversions from big screen to digitized world. It didn’t matter what the title was, most were unplayable, filled with ungodly music and play control. In December of 1989, a Nintendo Entertainment System version of Robocop was released; while the game wasn’t a top notch title, it remains one of the most playable of the movie titles on the NES to date.
The plot is basically identical to the movie in terms of overall plot, minus about 4000 buckets of gore, blood and nudity. Alright, scratch that, it’s a shell of the plot. Regardless, story isn’t important. These were the days where the plot didn’t matter. That’s where the game play has to step up.
Robocop is repetitive but enjoyable. The game has Robocop traversing through levels that match the movie: The factories, the OCP Corporation, Mayor’s office, and streets are all included. There are also levels that consists of first person target practice, which is simple enough, but enjoyable, breaking up the pace of the side scrolling levels. Throughout the levels, Robocop uses fists and guns to his advantage. The bottom left hand side of the screen shows power and time. Time can be taken away by enemies. It’s not too difficult to avoid enemies in the beginning, most dying with one hit. Later levels season the difficulty by mildly upping the amount of enemies. It’s all about memorizing what takes place and how to react to it.
Though Robocop controls are robotic enough, there are moments that are confusing. For example, one part of the first OCP level involves Robocop getting electrocuted from above. However, nobody would ever know to duck, press select to dodge/block the lightning, and then shoot upwards. Perhaps the most frustrating part of the game is that Robocop never has one fighting method to choose from. Though he can collect multiple types of guns, the player doesn’t determine which form of weapon is used. Guns can be chosen, but not whether you want to fight always with guns or fists. The game should’ve given the choice, but alas, it doesn’t break the game.
Music is incredibly repetitive. The main theme from the movie is looped, and can annoy pretty quickly. Yes, there are a few short songs that break up the monotony, but overall, the NES soundtrack to this game has superior songs in the sequels, such as Robocop 3’s intro song.
While Robocop offers a decent challenge based on memorization, it is one of the stronger movie based titles that doesn’t fall flat on its face, and still keeps true to the movie’s overall theme. It’s typically a very cheap game, and is worth the price of admission, just like the movie.
Format reviewed: Amstrad CPC
Submitted by: Neil Reive
Robocop, eh, what a film? Unexpected hit of the year in 1987. The film did extremely well and all sorts of merchandise sprang up as a result. One particular merchandising of relevance was the arcade and home computer games. It has been said that Ocean had acquired the Robocop licence long before it became a huge hit and this would be true as Ocean were in a habit of buying all sorts of film and TV rights at the time: Batman, Cobra, Darkman, Highlander, Hudson Hawk, Knight Rider, Miami Vice, Night Breed, Platoon, Rambo 1 / 2, Red Heat, Short Circuit, Terminator 2, Top Gun, Total Recall, The Untouchables, and erm… V. Some of these were even good, but no one was quite expecting the huge phenomenon that was the Robocop game.
Ocean Software had the Robocop home computer versions ready for release at the same time as the home video release of the film. The video even had an advertisement for the video game before the main film. Games magazines started featuring the games in their reviews pages and all the versions got a warm reception scoring high percentages. With a hit film behind the licence, great marketing skills and a great game to back up all the hype, how could they go wrong? They couldn't. The game shot to the top of the games charts and stayed there for over a year.
The Amstrad CPC game itself is a curious mixture of side scrolling shoot-'em-up and puzzle sub games – loosely based on the events of the film – which works well. The graphics are colourful (as expected from an Ocean Software game) and well defined with smooth scrolling across the levels. Sound is pretty non-existent except for the great title soundtrack and sampled speech, which reads the prime directives. The all-important gameplay, while slightly difficult and frustrating in places, is playable and the sub-games add variety to the proceedings. The only annoyance with the cassette version was the multi load levels. This involved the next level loading from tape, and if you died you would have to re-wind the tape and re-load the first level. But to be fair, most games used this practice at the time. A great all round package, hampered slightly by a tough difficulty setting.
Format reviewed: Arcade
Publisher: Nihon Bussan
Developer: Data East
Submitted by: Darran Jones
Paul Verhoeven’s satirically violent Robocop was always going to make for a great videogame – it was just a matter of finding the right company for the job.
Step forward Ocean, who, after securing the original film licence, sublicensed the arcade game out to Data East, which left Ocean free to concentrate on porting the finished game to the various home computers of the time.
Like many movie licences, Data East’s Robocop may not have perfectly matched the film’s plot, but it sure as hell managed to capture all the ultra-violence that had been contained within. Using the tried and tested formulae of a scrolling run-’n-gun game, Robocop starts off with the law enforcer of the future casually patrolling the streets of Detroit and punching the living daylights out of anyone that’s foolish enough to get in his way. As the game progresses, the enemies become more and more reckless, so the metal-clad officer must resort to his gun (which, like in the film, is coolly concealed within his leg) in order to continue his task of cleaning up the scum-filled streets and hopefully getting home in time for a tin of baby food.
Of course, artistic licence throughout the game is rife, especially when it came to the game’s many bosses, but they weren’t the only elements in Robocop that differed from the original movie. We don’t remember Robocop’s gun being able to fire off three-way shots for example, and we certainly can’t recall the big guy jumping around like a crazed jack-in-the-box, but then, this was a balls ’n’ all arcade blaster. Ocean’s home computer efforts were far more faithful to the film, but, let’s face it, few arcade goers would have wanted to put together an identikit puzzle of Clarence Boddicker’s face if it meant they were going to be missing out on some precious shooting.
Thank god then that Data East took the wise decision to make ED-209 the very first boss you fought…