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Robotron 64 (Nintendo 64) Review
Review by 
8.2/10 from one rating
Twin stick shooters are currently all of the rage, at least on the downloadable platforms. But did you know that the Nintendo 64 had a twin stick shooter of its own, long before the recent twin stick shooter revival? "Zero," you might ask, "how is that possible? The Nintendo 64 controller only had one stick!" And in this you would be correct. However, Robotron 64 (an updated version of Robotron X on Playstation) is one of the rare Nintendo 64 games (I believe Goldeneye 64 was another) that let a single player use two controllers at once, allowing for both analog movement and analog shooting. And to be completely honest, this is the only reasonable way to play the game, as the other control options involve either trying to move with the directional buttons or trying to shoot with the directional buttons, neither of which is very satisfying. The dual analog is spot on though, smooth as butter.

Gold and green baby, you know how we do it!

Robotron 64 also holds another distinction. There was a bit of a retro revival going on during the Playstation / Nintendo 64 generation, but for the most part, it missed the boat. Classic franchises like Pong, Space Invaders, Frogger, Galaga, Missile Command, Centipede, Q*Bert, Gauntlet, Pitfall and Defender all received new games during this era. Sounds pretty sweet, right? So what was the problem? Well, these games tended to mostly fall into one of two categories. Either they stuck close to the original games without the developers understanding what made those games great, throwing 3D graphics on top of bad 2D design and hoping no one noticed, or they went full on 3D, creating 3D platformers and space shooters and god knows else, none of which had much of anything to do with what made the original games appealing. But Robotron 64 did it right. It took the core gameplay of Robotron: 2084, and expanded and developed it a bit without losing the fundamentals. Robotron 64 is, essentially, a direct sequel to Robotron: 2084, and feels like you would expect a Nintendo 64 era sequel to feel, if you throw out all the gimmicky attempts at bringing a classic into 3D and simply stick to doing what is best for the source material.

So you probably want to know a bit about how Robotron 64 works, right? You play as a scientist trying to survive waves of rampaging robots and giant brains throughout 200+ levels, all the while rescuing whatever humans you can (although it isnít really necessary to rescue any of them, self-survival is priority one.) There may be some kind of storyline beyond that, but if so, the game certainly doesnít bother telling it, and instead thrusts you right into the action. Robotron 64 plays out in a mostly top down viewpoint, although the camera shifts a bit while playing. As stated before, it is a twin stick shooter, so you have two things that you can do in the game; move, and shoot. There are a few gun upgrades, as well as shields and 1-ups and warp zones and other things occasionally scattered around the boards, but for the most part it's just you and your trusted laser gun.

The presentation values are pretty sparse. Which is to say, completely non-existent.

The boards themselves start off pretty square and empty, but eventually take on various different shapes and contain environmental effects like laser grids and mine fields. The robots and brains start to take on variety as well, getting more and more sophisticated as the game progresses. Although the earliest stages donít have much beyond your basic walk-towards-you-as-fast-as-possible kill drones, eventually projectile shooters, mine droppers, robot making machines, gas shooting brains and more are added into the mix. And the waves become more and more intense, such that early stages last mere seconds while later stages last minutes at a time; things start to become very chaotic. You will die a lot, but luckily the game is pretty good about giving out extra lives, although you generally need points to get them. This creates an interesting risk / reward mechanic, since the best way to get points is to save humans, yet the game is so intense that it's very easy to get yourself cornered and die while trying to rescue a human.

Robotron 64 contains a handful of boss stages scattered throughout the game, which work pretty much like the regular stages, except that in addition to the swarms of robots and giant brains that wonít stop coming, there is also a very large boss that will take an awful lot of firepower to take down.

I think that there is no way around the fact that the graphics are pretty atrocious, even for a Nintendo 64 game. And since nothing about the game really needed to be done in 3D, they probably could have made a much prettier (and easier to read) 2D game had they went that direction. But they didnít, so I guess there is no use crying over spoiled milk. Another lack is in co-op multiplayer; there is none. The game would have been mad fun to play with a friend, but alas, if youíre playing Robotron 64, youíre either playing solo or you're taking turns. (Although, due to the dual controller scheme, you can make your own co-op where one person moves and another person shootsÖ but this is next to impossible to coordinate for very long.)

Not really much to look at, but it gets the job done.

The sound, on the other hand, is pretty well done. There are some pretty intense hardcore electronic / techno songs that fit the pacing of the game very well, as well as some very relevant bleeping and blooping sound effects. Although to be totally honest, the music can be a bit too much for long play sessions at times.

And thatís pretty much Robotron 64 in a nutshell. The premise is basic and it never changes, although the variety and intensity does. Itís not a mind-blowing game, and I canít say Iím recommending it for everyone, especially since it isnít on Virtual Console, which means you would need to have a working Nintendo 64 and seek out an old cartridge to play it. But if you are into retro revivals and want to try one out from a past era, it hits the twitch twin shooter niche pretty well, and you can find it used on eBay for 3 or 4 bucks nowadays.

So there you go.

PS. Oh, and the question has to be asked. Retro revivals are making a big comeback. Twin stick shooters are making a big comeback. Why is there no Robotron retro revival yet? Get on it, whoever it is that would be making this game!

PPS. On a somewhat unrelated note, I went to load up Robotron 64 to play it a bit before writing this review and noticed that my Nintendo 64 was already turned on. How long had it been on? I'm not sure, but I hadn't played it in months.

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Posted: 03/15/11, 02:58:57  - Edited by 
 on: 03/15/11, 03:13:32    
Why not sign up for a (free) account and create your own content?
Is that you? :O

Posted by 
 on: 03/15/11, 03:09:40
Zero said:
On a somewhat unrelated note, I went to load up Robotron 64 to play it a bit before writing this review and noticed that my Nintendo 64 was already turned on. How long had it been on? I'm not sure, but I hadn't played it in months.

You shouldn't have done that.

Posted by 
 on: 03/15/11, 03:12:23
It's not not me.

Posted by 
 on: 03/15/11, 03:12:34  - Edited by 
 on: 03/15/11, 03:15:19
Secret_Tunnel said:
Zero said:
On a somewhat unrelated note, I went to load up Robotron 64 to play it a bit before writing this review and noticed that my Nintendo 64 was already turned on. How long had it been on? I'm not sure, but I hadn't played it in months.

You shouldn't have done that.
Classic Secret_Tunnel. That one was easy.

Posted by 
 on: 03/15/11, 03:15:12
I haven't played the original Robotron but I am sure I have the N64 cart up in the attic. I can't really remember too much about it but I may just bring it down for a play through later.

Posted by 
 on: 03/15/11, 07:41:33
Awesome photo Zero.

(EDIT: I am also the proud owner of a gold controller among the other colors.)

This game would be make an awesome addition to the VC! I'm sure they could tweak the control scheme to accommodate dual analog on one one classic controller. It's pretty neat just how early on in the game industry the dual stick control scheme was introduced, long before first person shooters popularized the concept.

Even though I've been gaming since the Atari 2600 days, I can't recall playing much of the original Robotron (maybe because it didn't have Nintendo ports for many years after its arcade release).

The music does sound pretty cool based on what I heard in the attached youtube video.

I do have my N64 hooked up and occasionally play it, so this game could be worth checking out.

Posted by 
 on: 03/15/11, 18:45:18  - Edited by 
 on: 03/15/11, 19:06:23
roykoopa64 said:
Awesome photo Zero.

I was thinking of cleaning my room first, but I'm too lazy. Maybe we could make a game out of it. Like, in the above photo, can you find:

A. A reference to a fan favorite Sony game?
B. A religious object?
C. A reference to a popular hardware store?
D. An object used to reach high places?
E. Two different computer displays?
F. Something children use in kindergarten class?


Posted by 
 on: 03/15/11, 19:02:42  - Edited by 
 on: 03/15/11, 19:02:59

A- Is that a Shadow of the Colossus poster?
B- Crucifix!
C- ACE is the PLACE!
D- Red stepladder behind the door?
E- Laptop next to you, white monitor in the background
F- ..styrofoam cup full of writing utensils?

Posted by 
 on: 03/15/11, 21:40:11
Thank god you delivered this review. Now I can finally make up my mind about whether to pick up this game!

Weren't most of those N64/PS1 revivals super-shitty?

Also, Geometry Wars ripoffff...

Posted by 
 on: 03/16/11, 03:53:06
great game!

Posted by 
 on: 03/16/11, 04:48:28
anandxxx said:
Weren't most of those N64/PS1 revivals super-shitty?

Maybe if you actually read the review, you would have an answer to this!

Posted by 
 on: 03/17/11, 02:09:40

I read your stuff, including the part with the guessing game!
I want the answer key, darn it!

Posted by 
 on: 03/17/11, 03:01:57
They were all right... except for F. That cup is mostly full of pens, and not many kindergarten kids use pens yet.

Posted by 
 on: 03/17/11, 03:11:26

My backup was "a pile of notebooks." I remember that..

Posted by 
 on: 03/17/11, 03:24:15
Since when do kindergarten kids have piles of notebooks!?

F is probably a cheap question because the picture is a bit blurry and even I wouldn't know this one if I didn't already know it.

Posted by 
 on: 03/17/11, 03:32:52

Well, cheap is no good.

Piles of notebooks are awesome!
There where I house my college rosters..

Posted by 
 on: 03/17/11, 03:35:46

Posted by 
 on: 03/19/11, 04:27:17
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