Developer: Team4000 Software LLC
Price: $4.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★½☆☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★½☆

Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★½☆☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

Robofighters takes your classic one-on-one fighting game and, er, adds robots to the mix. Giant, humanoid, gun-toting robots, to be exact. Who doesn’t love a good mecha battle? Unfortunately, an inflexible control scheme and overall blandness make this a battle to skip. It’s still a promising title, but I’d wait for an update or three.

photo When I first started the game, I immediately headed into the tutorial. It took me about two seconds to encounter my first major problem: the controls. Robofighters uses the accelerometer for moving around, and I was slouched in bed. Oops. RoboFighters doesn’t have any calibration options whatsoever, so I had to sit hunched over my iPod; it considers the “zero position” to be parallel to the floor. The lack of calibration is almost inexcusable at this stage of the game. Other than that, the controls work, for the most part. Sometimes it’s hard to hit a perfect standstill (again, calibration!) but moving is handled well as a whole; it’s as simple as tilt-to-move. As for firing, you have two weapons; one is on your left arm and one is on your right. Tapping either side of the screen fires that respective weapon. Aiming is done automatically, and sometimes it feels like the game is doing too much of the work. As an added caveat, you have an “energy bar” that is drained by movement; standing still allows it to refill.

The graphics probably give this game a lot of selling potential, and to be fair, they’re pretty good. They’re not excellent, but they do give the game a unique look and suit the whole robo-theme with a clean, blocky graphical style. As for the sound effects, they’re average: nothing to gripe about, but not a draw, either.

Unfortunately, things break down when it comes to the actual game.

img_00182The meat of the game is supposed to be the robo-vs-robo arena matches (“Tournament” mode), which are won on a “best two out of three” basis. The opposing AI is reasonably intelligent, but there’s not much to do. Because of the energy bar limit, you can’t do much except ducking behind obstacles, shooting a few times, and then returning to cover. When you do get into close quarters, the mechas take out swords and begin bashing each other; unfortunately, this felt clumsy and tacked-on to me, and wasn’t nearly as dramatic as it could have been. What could have been a truly epic mecha battle is usually reduced to a game of biding your time.

On top of that, there’s apparently a story. Your first opponent, “Venom,” says that “If you beat me, maybe I’ll tell you what you want to know.” There’s no preamble before that. So…er, what do I want to know, exactly? The plot really doesn’t get more involved than robots issuing grandiloquent statements prior to each match, usually along the lines of obscure cliches. Oh, well.

There is another portion of the game: the training modes. These are simply minigames, which, once passed, confer a bonus to attack, defense, or speed, depending on which minigame you played. They’re all simple, but I thought that they were actually more entertaining than the main gameplay. Still, they’re nothing to write home about.

After playing through a bit of the game, you get the option to customize your robot, adding more advanced weapons and using the robots you’ve vanquished in the main mode. It’s a nice touch, but not nearly compelling enough to persuade me to keep playing.

So, for the final evaluation: is RoboFighters worth getting? Sadly, I’d have to give an emphatic “no” at this point. The main combat simply isn’t fun enough, and there’s not much else to do. RoboFighters has potential, and it’s hard not to love robo-fights, but this simply isn’t a good enough game.

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