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Review – Mr. Robot

posted on July 31st, 2007 by tyson

I entered into the futuristic world of Mr. Robot with some apprehension. The game is based on a lot of stuff I am not overly fond of; puzzle games, platformers, and robots. I was not too keen on the title of the game, either, because other than Mr. T, who was the last good Mr. Anything you can think of? And so help me, if you dis Mr. T, I do indeed pity you, fool.

The one thing this game had going for it is that it is one of my friend’s all time favorite games and he has very good taste. Mr. Robot sits among legends such as Fallout 2, X-Com, and Katamari Damacy if you were to see the list entitled, “Jim’s All-Time Favorite Games”. So when it was suggested that I take a look at the game and review it I jumped at the chance.

This robot is designed solely to lift smaller robots.

Mr. Robot, is created by the guys over at Moonpod, an indie game developer with a lot of promise, if this game is a glimpse of what’s to come. You are in charge of guiding the service robot, Asimov through the dangers of a spaceship gone haywire. The main computer program has gone a little bonkers and it is your job to ensure that Asimov and some of his friends can save the human crew that lay in suspended animation while the ship glides through space on its way to colonize a planet.

At this point, I am going to say something, but I want you to promise not to stop reading this review after the next sentence. Mr. Robot drove me nuts and I stopped playing the game about halfway through. Now, just because I didn’t like this game does not mean that other people will feel the same way, after all, my buddy loves it and to be quite honest, there is a lot to love about the game.

For starters, this is a pretty game. I would go so far as to say that as far as graphics and sound are concerned, this is easily the best indie title I have ever played and it ranks up there with some AAA titles. The graphics are smooth, very easy on the eyes, and convey a mood that fits with the story very well. The score of the game furthers the sci-fi aesthetic and greatly adds to the play experience. That is not to say that I would run out to the store and buy the soundtrack to the game, but everything meshes very well with what Moonpod was trying to accomplish and it is evident that much time and thought were devoted to developing a unique and fun atmosphere.

This is something that some of the big guys should take notes on. Another thing that drives that unique vibe is the dialog of the game. It is quick, funny, and maintains a child-like quality that briefly compelled me to keep playing. Again, Moonpod really thought out all of the aesthetic elements of this game.

Platforming robot hell.

If it was not a shoddy plot or ugly game that made me stop playing, then why in the hell didn’t I finish the game? Simply put, I lack patience. Mr. Robot tried very hard to fulfill three gaming niches. It tries and overwhelmingly succeeds to be a very good puzzle solving game. Most of the puzzles involve either moving boxes around or hitting a trigger at the proper moment. This aspect of the game is very fun and fans of the older game, Contraption Zack, will love Mr. Robot for the freshness it brings to the puzzle-solving genre.

Mr. Robot then goes on to try out a turn-based Final Fantasy-meets-Tron battle system during the hacking sections of the game. In order to solve some of the puzzles, you must hack into a robot or computer and then fight said system’s electronic defenses. This part of the game is not bad but it is nothing a regular gamer hasn’t seen before. Moonpod basically overlaid a sci-fi cushion on to the decrepit Final Fantasy battle mechanics. They did a good job in making the battle system work with the rest of the game but with a title as creative as this one, I was a tad let down that they would choose such a blasé way to cope with an element as fun as haxx0ring a Gibson.

The element that killed the game for me was the rage inducing platform jumping that I grew to despise when I was about eight years old and saw copious amounts of it on the original Nintendo. I view the vast majority of platform games much in the same way that POWs remember Vietnam. It’s not something I would like to do every day. If I am playing a puzzle game, great, but don’t make me have to pull off precision jumps to complete a puzzle that I have already solved mentally.

It is like someone at Moonpod played through the game and it wasn’t challenging enough so they popped a bunch of islands and ledges into it so that it would pad the play time. The icing on the cake was when I missed a jump and then had to traverse through the circuit of a room just to take another shot at the jump, and then miss again. A clunky robot jumping through the air in this game has about as much grace as you could expect a real life robot to have and this means you are going to be redoing a lot of missed jumps. This gets extremely tedious extraordinarily fast.

Final Fantasy…in the future!

As I mentioned from the get go, I very well may have been the wrong person to play this game. I know many people that love puzzle-solving and enjoy leaping from one object to the next in order to reach their goal. However, I am not one of them. I prefer solving the puzzle and then either lobbing a grenade to take care of the obstructions or just avoiding them altogether. If I need to jump around every once in a while that’s fine but I don’t enjoy not being able to easily pull them off and I do not enjoy having to repeat parts of a game in order to try again.

Mr. Robot is an excellent game in many respects and I hope it becomes a target for other indie game houses to aim for. The world could use some new blood in an art form infected with EA. My suggestion would be to go to Moonpod’s website, pay the more than reasonable amount they are asking for the game, and try it out for yourself; you may just be in for quite a treat.

4 Comments

  1. TrueTallus said on August 1, 2007:

    The platforming doesn’t sound so bad to me (it can’t be much worse than Ys for PS2), but a bland rpg battle system is what I’m worried about. Specifically if it’s bland AND frustratingly difficult. Would you say that’s the case from what you played, or is it more of a cakewalk thrown in as a change of pace? If it’s the latter, I might give this game a try. Also, I got the impression from the review that battles only take place at very specific moments and aren’t constantly popping up in the middle of perilous jumping sequences. Is that correct?

  2. jay said on August 1, 2007:

    Using Ys 6 as the ruler for how painful platforming is makes sense.

  3. Tyson said on August 2, 2007:

    Ok, the battle system is not random. You only encounter it when in hacking mode and if you play the game, you pretty much know where a battle encounter is going to take place. The battle difficulty is on par with some of the early Final Fantasy games and from my playing experience, they were pretty damned easy. I have it on good authority that they do not get much more difficult than what I saw because there are very few bad guys that you actually battle in this fashion.

    I would say give it a try because it sounds like this may be something you are interested in.

  4. TrueTallus said on August 2, 2007:

    All right, thanks for the info. I’m going to give this one a shot.

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