A Game Review by Greg Dabkey
Game – Solatorobo
Version – DS
ESRB Rating: ‘E’ – Everyone
Obtained – Review copy courtesy of XSEED
In a world where anthropomorphic dog named Red stumbles upon a medallion while on a routine fetch quest, he discovers much more than he ever bargained for. Will you make a similar discovery?
The star of the game is Red who is dog that controls a custom robot that does jobs for cash. On a routine delivery, he finds a mysterious boy named Elh and a medallion and takes it as his own. Elh and Red become targets from monsters, sky pirates and evil robots. Now Red must save the world from an evil that is awakening. This game has two parts, both with different stories. The first part focuses on Red uncovering the mysteries of the medallion and stopping the evil known as Lares from rising. Along with the medallion, there are power stones that a dog named Bruno is trying to gain control of so that he can control Lares and destroy the world. The second part deals with the origins of Red and him being a hybrid. Can Red save the world before it is destroyed?
Gameplay & Controls
This game styles itself as an action-RPG type of game. You wander around the map looking for next item, and have some battle sequences with enemies. It’s no open world type of map, think of it like the NES Zelda Dungeon type of feel. Occasionally you’ll find split paths that lead to deadends, but typically happy that you encounter a few extra foes (for XP) and typically a few side items that you are not forced to collect. The player does the majority of the exploring with the huge mecha suit on, but occasionally the player will need to leave the metal suit behind to advance ahead to trigger a bridge or switch or elevator for the mecha part to cross and continue play. This mecha armor is upgradable with the help of the shops, and also some crystals that can be found through out the game. The store has options to upgrade your attack power, defense, mobility, and lifting. The crystals can increase the equipable section of the mecha armor.
Now, I said there was a stat for lifting, that is the main focus of the game for Red. He uses his mecha to lift crates, boxes, enemies, or whatever is in his way to move it or hurl it at the ground. Enemies can be picked up by mashing the A button when the arrow lift indicator is on the screen. Each enemy has an hp bar and simplier enemies only take a few throws at the ground to defeat, while bosses will take many. Each enemy has attack patterns so you can always just run in and begin lifting, you will have to dodge a few attacks to get in close. While this is an interesting mechanic, I found it fun to use, but I also found that even some bosses can be defeated very easily. The first 4-5 bosses I was able to defeat after lifting them the first time since they have a few second recover time, and after slamming them I immediately try to pick them up again, and before they have a second to begin their attack pattern, they are already back in the air and ready for their next hit. Quick button mashers will make fast work of majority of the enemies and bosses with relative ease.
Another key aspect of the game is questing. When you gain access to a new level, you have the option of returning to previous levels to complete some quests (for extra XP). Some of these quests are required to move on to the next level as after the quest meter is filled your ranking will increase giving you access to more difficult quests. The story quest line requires you to be at particular ranks at certain times, so some of this additional questing is required. When you start a new level, you typically receive a quest to investigate a problem the village is having. It will eventually lead to the level’s dungeon with a boss fight at the end. The gameplay gets pretty old pretty fast since you keep getting the same types of quests (even ‘new’ quests in the older levels) and also with the incredibly easy battle system the game can get pretty stale. The controls are pretty tight and all of the abilities seem to fit and work. Again, the main thing is with the continuous button mashing will make your fingers a little sore if you go fast enough over an average play. The player only has the choice to button mash since each enemy has some resistance strength and with slow button presses you won’t be able to lift the enemies, let alone doors. That’s right, the doors even require some button mashing to open them.
Visuals & Sound
The sprites were pretty solid with detail and a number of the backgrounds looked pretty solid, especially for being played on a 3DS XL. Some of the enemies looked quite well designed with details of their weapons and armored suit. Some of the cut scenes didn’t look very impressive though, especially with the main character Red. During these cutscenes, they are barely animated and just a simple sprite that changes expressions. The music or sound wasn’t particularly interesting, but it also wasn’t poor either. The lifting sound can get annoying since Red is constantly lifting doors or enemies and there is a sound basically each time you hit the button. Initially it sounds fun, but after a while the player may prefer to turn the sound off. The music is often drowned out by sounds of Red lifting objects or even his robotic sound of him moving. From what I’ve heard the music seems to be one of the most impressive parts of the game, if you prefer the Japanese style of music.
Overall, it probably can be pretty fun game for younger kids, but for those of us that really enjoy exploration with some challenge it shouldn’t be considered by RPG fans. I really enjoyed the unique elements of the mecha robot suit, but with very repetitive questing and even the repetitive simple battle sequences the game felt like it got stale pretty quickly. While the game does offer some mini games to change it up a little bit, it isn’t enough to make it a more solid game. The graphics during gameplay are mostly solid, but I didn’t care for the simple cut scenes with just the characters faces and their expressions. I’d recommend this game to the younger crowd as it seems to be more appropriate in terms of difficulty and controls.
Final Score: 5 out of 10
+Unique action concept with lifting enemies
+2 different story lines (segments within the game)
+Variety of different types of terrain to explore
+Includes mini games for battle, and racing
-Repeative gameplay (questing)
-Requires lots of button mashing
-Fast button mashers can even defeat bosses without taking damage, or much hassle
-Need to button mash the doors to go between rooms