Games for Lunch: Mr. Robot
Release Date: Jan. 10, 2007
ESRB Rating: N/A
Official Web site
0:00 I vaguely remember some minor buzz for this game when it first came out, and I tend to like action puzzle games, so I figured it was worth a try.
0:02 After some longish loading, a ship flies by a starscape. "For decades, the starship Eidolon has burned its way across space." It's going to Prime, a potential new world for humanity. It's been a long voyage for the cryo-sleeping passengers and their robot tenders. Does that include our eponymous Mr. Robot, perhaps? The head robot is named HEL. Heh. "Lately, things haven't been running as smoothly as HEL would like. It would be quite a worry for him... if he were capable of such an emotion." That's what we in the biz call foreshadowing...
0:04 An isometric view of a metal room. A communications panel pops up: "1138, this is HEL. Go to Sector 2 immediately. I've got another rogue bot on the loose and I need you to clean up the mess." I'm a cute little rounded yellow robot who can walk around with the mouse or keyboard. 1138 kind of slides around on the floor as he changes direction. Pretty cute.
0:06 A female robot named Zelda calls me "Honey" and tells me that the rogue bot knocked over some crates (that rogue!). She asks me to push the boxes back. It's not the most subtle tutorial I've ever seen, but not the worst either. "Good work Asimov. You're my No. 1 bot," Zelda says. Awww...
0:08 I have to jump over the "corrosive coolant" using the jump button. This is surprisingly hard, given the slidey controls. I love the jump animation though... Asimov kind of goes rigid and does a slight hop. It's even better if you hold the button for a pogo-stick effect.
0:10 Energon pods can be used for repairs or "even as a form of illegal currency." Whoo! Black market here I come! I'm having some trouble with precision on the mouse controls, but the isometric perspective makes the keyboard controls just as confusing. Pushing left actually makes me walk up-left. Maybe if I turn the keyboard at an angle...
0:11 In true videogame clich? fashion, I find a red key needed to open... the red door!
0:12 Asimov offers to repair the rogue bot, but HEL tells him that he's "not a repair specialist." BURN!
0:14 Once I push some boxes out of the way, repair bot Zelda comes in to fix the rogue bot. I again insist that I could fix it, but HEL threatens to upload me back to the net for the rest of the voyage if I don't shut the hell up. Eep! Zelda gives me a key and asks me to fetch her a "motivator." Seems like a flimsy excuse to continue the game if I've ever heard one. And I have!
0:18 I give Zelda the motivator (which was amazingly easy to find) and HEL sends me back to Sector 3. I practically beg to stay with Zelda and get more "experience," (dirty!) but HEL is adamant. Zelda offers to meet with me in the net later and "have some fun." Dirty again!
0:20 No sooner do I go back to Sector 3 then I'm being insulted by Samson, a huge lifting unit at least twice my height and breadth. He orders me to push some boxes around for no apparent reason.
0:24 Some other robot needs my help hacking a rogue, but I don't have the right upgrade. Time to go fetch an upgrade. Hooray for fetching!
0:25 HEL gives me some unsubtle hints about crushing a rogue bot from above with a crate. So I do. "You've actually managed to think something through for once," HEL tells me. No respect, I tells ya... no respect.
0:27 Back at the hack, I install a "virus" and a "shield" whatever that means. Apparently they're important.
0:28 Hacking mini-game time. A map of a stylized inside of a robot brain pops up. The strategy seems to involve moving around randomly until you encounter a battle. So... it's an RPG now?
0:30 Battle time. A simple, turn-based, Final Fantasy-style battle setup. I like the stylized battle setup. I don't like that my only option is "attack" and that one attack is enough to "triumph" over the weak monster. I even gain experience and find some Energon. This really is just a cheap-o turn-based RPG in puzzle game's clothing, isn't it?
0:32 I find the "core memory" sector another battle ensues -- this one with FOUR whole enemies. Wow. I block a lot of their attacks automatically and attack back for an easy win. Yawn.
0:33 Back out on the main floor and on to Sector 4. I seem surprised to see Raistlin, who's a bit higher up on the totem pole. He's been monitoring HEL and thinks the Science Officer's CryoPod may be involved in some nefarious doings. Why he asks me to come investigate with him I have no idea. Lots of technobabble goes here: Long story short, I have to hack into the cryopod, which means More random turn based battles. Hurray?
0:39 I've been involved in enough random battles to get an "extreme attack." It does more damage than my normal attack but is otherwise uneventful.
0:42 Hacking done. Turns out the cryo-sleeping science officer is brain-dead! I don't have to tell you the prime directive implications of this! Raistlin swears me to secrecy. Bad times.
0:45 I run into Samson again and he forces me to arrange some blocks into a stairway using a crane for no apparent reason. I know it's early, but I'm not impressed with these puzzles so far. Meanwhile, Samson steals all my Energon, the big bully.
0:47 HEL sends me on an errand for Energon (how convenient that I just had all mine stolen...) to give to EVE, who is "HEL's conscience." She talks about her battle with HEL. Long story short, I need to get her six Energon. The next room is full of it, but also full of roving sentry-bots. Finally, some action.
0:50 Never mind about the action -- simply leaving and reentering the room respawns the easily-accessible Energon right next to me. Sigh. EVE turns out to be a glorified shop, where I can buy restorative items with my Energon.
0:53 HEL sends me to the ominously named "recycler" for an upgrade to my chassis. My character thinks this is his big break. I personally think it's trouble.
0:55 HEL orders me to follow a line of other robots into the "recycler," which basically blows them up. Zelda walks in and overrides HEL's control. Lots of technobabble here. Long story short, HEL is mad with power and killing robots who get in his way, permanently. Zelda is my savior.
0:57 A robot attacks Zelda, but I download her brain just in time to save her consciousness. She's now a "ghost" within me... basically a second member of the party for the hacking expeditions. There's a ridiculous amount of in-game verbal gymnastics expelled on explaining this.
0:59 Call me crazy, but choosing "attack" to kill the same two enemies over and over again just isn't that interesting to me.
Would I play this game for more than an hour? No.
Why? I was expecting isometric action/puzzling... instead, I got a warmed-over generic RPG with some confusingly techno-babbly writing. Pass.
This column was based on a full version of the game downloaded from GameTap.
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