You are Robox, a probe sent to an alien planet to gather information and investigate the disappearance of other probes. A simple story, but it’s all Robox needs before it throws you down to the unnamed planet – literally, you get to control Robox as he plummets down until hit the ground with an almighty bang.After a brief tutorial on the inner workings of Robox, you’re sent off to explore this strange new world.
Some of the first things you’ll notice are out-of-reach platforms and gas filled mines. Similar to Metroid, Robox involves exploring the map to gain new powers, then using your new-found powers to reach previously-inaccessible areas. There’s no map screen so there is a lot of aimless wandering involved, but your reward of a new power is enough to keep you going. Once you’ve found your new power, you can’t simply start using it. You have to enter Robox’s innards and control nanomachines to fully unlock the new powers. Makes a great change from simply picking up the item.
The exploration is definitely helped by Robox’s beautifully drawn game world, that really does look like an alien world. There are loads of little, but lovely, effects like the leaves swinging in the breeze, butterflies fluttering around and light beams shining down. This wonderful art is accompanied by some equally-lovely music, with a distinct theme for each game world.
On paper, and in pictures, Robox looks like a fantastic game. The setting is great and there are loads of original ideas. Unfortunately, the transition from paper to game hasn’t gone quite so well.
Robox feels like an old game. He moves very slowly and can only shoot forwards. Shooting enemies on slopes is a massive pain, and extremely annoying and fast enemies are encountered from the very start. Due to the controls, these flying enemies are hard to shoot and best avoided – which isn’t quite so easy when they fly down from above while you’re in the middle of a jump. To add to the frustration are spikes which I found blended into the background and are quite hard to spot. As you can initially only take three hits, this leads to loads of unfair restarts.
During your exploration you are also thrown some set-pieces such as riding a mushroom lift while avoiding enemies that fall from the sky, an on-rails shooter section and a segment where you have to kill waves of bugs. While these make the gameplay a bit varies, they tend to outstay their welcome and feel like they go on forever. The nanomachines inside Robox also feel like they take an eon to get anywhere, which sucks out most of the fun.
Dreambox Games have some great, innovative and unique ideas. They can also create a charming character, lovely visuals, a wonderful environment and pleasing sound. It’s a colossal shame that the bolt that holds all the other pieces in place – the gameplay – is old and rusty.
– Lovely environments
– Charming character
– Original ideas
– Plods along slowly
– Frustrating gameplay
A lot of effort has been gone into designing the game, it’s just a shame about the poor execution. I look forward to what Dreambox can come up with next.