App Reviewed on: iPhone 4S
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We’ve all been bored by our jobs before. Everybody has experienced hard-nosed bosses cracking the whip when all we’ve really wanted is to have a good time and make the workplace a little less soul crushing. But, before we know it, here comes the boss, sending his goons to smash us back into line with their hydraulic-powered fists, denting our rusty metal backsides.
Wait - “Rusty metal backsides?” “Hydraulic-powered fists?”
Oh, did I forget to mention we were discussing RoboFonics today? Sorry about that.
RoboFonics, courtesy of Finnish developers LudoCraft, takes that all-too-common scenario of heavy-handed workplace oppression and casts it with a group of beat-obsessed bots that just want to liven up their dull existences with a little rhythm.
Each level starts by dragging an inactive robot to an open slot on the assembly line, which triggers a musical element to begin playing. This could be a single drum beat or perhaps a melody line on synthesizer. The player activates the chosen robot by tapping along to the cue rhythm until it gets into the groove, taking over automatically. This continues until all available robots are placed, at which point the assembly line is in full swing and the level completed. Over time the difficulty ramps as new robots are added (some of whom refuse to work while standing next to other models) and the musical elements get increasingly syncopated.
Gameplay is simple, addictive and reminds me of the kind of quirky minigames found in Rhythm Heaven for Nintendo DS. The robots all have their own cute charm and the tunes are unobtrusive enough that they don’t get annoying. Also, with 80 levels to complete (40 normal and 40 puzzle stages, which we’ll touch on below), there’s a fair bit packed in.
There are a few loose screws, however. The puzzle mode - where the robot itself contains the musical cue, rather than the assembly line slot they stand in - needs work. Players have to activate the robot with a single tap at the correct time to sync them with the background beat, but since a particular track can still sound “right,” even when syncopated off-beat, there’s a lot of luck and guesswork involved. Also, there’s a lack of on-screen indicators of how well the player is performing - no time remaining countdown, no gradually filling meters showing how close a bot is to activating. The only time I saw a meter off any kind was the life bar for the Mortalix enforcers during a boss fight. Usually this isn't a problem, but sometimes it proves frustrating.
Still, despite these few factory defects, RoboFonics is fun, funky and well worth checking out. Just make sure it doesn't cause too much distraction at work; there are some bosses who make MasterBotrix look downright cuddly in comparison.