We previewed Rise of the Robots in AP32, over a year ago. Edge magazine put it on their cover in the same month (an accolade usually reserved for new consoles from Sony or Sega), and ran an eight-page feature on all the effort that was going into creating the graphics using 3D Studio rendering software.
Since then, work on the Amiga version has been delayed by a proliferation of versions for other formats - in total, Rise of the Robots is being produced for 22 different machines, including CD-I and 3DO, and there is even a coin-op version. The music has been written by Brian May, who used to play the guitar for pop group Queen. A multi-million pound market campaign has led to a Rise of the Robots novel from Penguin, and discussions are underway regarding Rise of the Robots toys, Rise of the Robots comics and a Rise of the Robots cartoon series. There's even been some talk of a Rise of the Robots movie.
Meanwhile, here is the Rise of the Robots game.
THE GOOD POINTS
* The graphics are great. The robots look suitably fearsome and move about smoothly. The backgrounds look good too.
* The scene is set before each round by animated sequences showing your opponent walking into view, while text is written on the screen a letter at time accompanied by a beep-beep-beep noise. It is therefore necessary to switch these off.
* As the two characters then face each other, the battle is begun not by a voice crying "Fight!", but by some more text being written a letter at a time.
* There are 7 different characters in Rise of the Robots. In Street Fighter 2 there are 12, in Mortal Kombat 2, 17.
* In a one-player game you can only be one of the characters - the blue one.
* In a two-player game, one of the players has to be the blue one.
* Each character performs the same set of basic moves, plus as many as two 'special' moves, performed, for example, by moving the joystick Down and Up and then pressing Fire.
* Only one fire button is used, even on the four-button CD32 joypad.
* All the moves involve hitting your opponent in some way - you cannot throw him or crush him or launch a fireball at him, and you certainly cannot pull off his head or tear out his heart.
* Oh, except there are 'secret' moves as well. These involve becoming invisible (so the other player cannot see you) becoming invincible (if you manage to do this before the other player, you can then kill him without him being able to do anything to prevent it), and - watch out for this one in a future Kangaroo Court - reversing the other player's controls.
* Because of technical limitations, the characters cannot turn around and face in the opposite direction. This means that in two-player mode you cannot jump over your opponent's head to, for example, avoid being trapped at the side of the screen and helplessly killed.
* The backgrounds are static, rather than scrolling, so the playing area is only as large as the screen.
* The impact of these huge metal warriors striking each other is indicated by a couple of small triangles floating to the ground, and a crunch noise.
Because of technical limitations
* The shadow beneath your robot overlaps your opponent when you approach him. There is an option to switch the shadows off.
* Brian May's music consists of a guitar going "kerrannnnnnnng, kerrannnnnnnnng, kerrannnnnnnnng" and is confined to the options screen. During the game there is no music at all.
* For some reason you have to 'fight' the first group of five baddies twice before you can take on the sixth and final one.
* In Beginner mode, you can complete the game by pushing the joystick up to the right, and then holding the fire button down for about ten minutes.
* In Easy mode, you can complete the game in the same way, although to beat the last character you have to repeatedly press Left, Right, and Fire.
* In Medium mode, you can defeat the first five characters in the same way, but then you have to fight them all again in Hard mode.
* In Hard mode, none of your moves have any effect on the other characters unless your power bar is charged up to maximum when you make contact. You charge it by pressing and holding the fire button for a couple of seconds. Unfortunately, as soon as you hit your opponent (which is what tends to happen when you press the fire button), the bar stops charging, so it is difficult to see how the game could be completed in Hard mode.
* As you hold Up, Right and Fire, the robots initially try to fight back, but then simply cower in the corner of the screen until they die. This is presumably owing to the "unique combat intelligence system that adapts to and learns your style of play".
* In a two-player game, if Player 1 holds Up/Right and Fire, Player 2 loses the match every time.
* The Amiga 1200 version comes on 13 disks, 7 of these are required to play the game, 5 contain the introductory sequence, and the other installs the game to a hard drive.
* The CD32 version of Rise of the Robots costs £35; the ordinary Amiga version, £40; and the AGA version, £43
We fear for the immortal souls of those quoted on the packaging who would have you believe that Rise of the Robots is worth 93%. ("You will wish all your games were this good". For pity's sake...).
We only hope you have not already been swayed by them, by any 'exclusive' Rise of the Robots 'reviews' you may have already read in rival Amiga magazines, by the 60 second Rise of the Robots TV and cinema ads, by the national Rise of the Robots billboard poster campaign, by the 'controversial' Rise of the Robots ad in Viz, by the six-foot-high cardboard Rise of the Robots cut-outs in computer game shops across the nation, or by the big, exciting Rise of the Robots box it comes in.
Copies of Rise of the Robots were only released to the press a couple of days before the game went on sale, so it will have been in the shops for a month before you have had a chance to read this.
Rise of the Robots is terrible. I am not exaggerating. Ironically, it is probably because the graphics are so good that it plays so poorly - every move the robots make takes so many frames of animation, and so much memory, and so many months of rendering with 3D Studio, that is simply would not have been possible to make the gameplay any more complicated than it is. What an astonishing waste of time.