Let's get ready to, uh... rumble?
When I saw the copy of Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots Arena arrive in the office I got a little excited. Fond memories of a game that I loved so much as a kid came flooding back. Finally, we have a video game that captures the fine subtleties of those red and blue plastic robots that knock each others' block off. You couldn't beat my excitement with a stick.
The Blue Bomber and the Red Rocker have come to life on my very own Playstation. Can you imagine the fun of a classic game reborn in glorious 3D? Best of all, little Tommy won't be able to break my robot after losing twenty games in a row.
Well, I need to learn not to set myself up for disappointment because translating the childhood glee of acceptable plastic violence into a video game is a nearly impossible task. RSRA, as it turns out, is just another small fish in a sea of Playstation fighting games. It hopes to capitalize on those of us who loved the charm of the original game, but ends up failing miserably.
RSRA is structured just like any other fighting game with a Career mode, Training mode and Two-player mode. The only thing unique to RSRA is the 'Stakes mode' where you can fight a friend for parts earned in Career mode. It's a novel idea, but that would entail finding not one, but TWO people that actually play this game enough to earn parts and then are willing to get together with their memory cards and fight. Something tells me that this will be a seldom used option.
The graphics in RSRA are pretty good for the Playstation. There are some pretty smooth textures and effects, along with a nicely done intro movie. It's too bad these graphics can't save a game with all the depth of a child's wading pool.
The sound effects are pretty cool, too. The clang of metal on metal rings strong throughout each round, just like giant metal robots should. However, the crummy attempt at upbeat techno just drones on in the background and should have been left on the developing table (along with some of those spare parts).
So, in trying to find a shiny side to such a dull coin, I will elaborate on the "spare parts" feature of RSRA. Have you ever played Xenogears? Do you remember constantly upgrading your mech from parts purchased at local markets and found in caverns? Well, this is sort of like that, only you gain parts by knocking them off of other robots in battle. You then have the option, before the next bout, to swap the parts on your robot for those in your inventory. A pretty nifty idea, but if RSRA was built around a stronger engine, it would have been a much cooler feature.
That's the basic problem with this title; it is built on an outdated 3-D fighting engine. This leads to frustrating control issues and limited types of attacks you can perform. With so many Playstation fighting games to choose from, it simply doesn't make the cut.
The sheer novelty of a cool game from my childhood isn't enough to encourage me to promote this title. If you feel the urge to reminisce on the classic game, try finding it on eBay. Heck, the original has about as much depth as this one.