Retro Game of the Day! Robo Army
Robo Army by SNK for the Neo Geo, released in 1991.
There's really not too much to say about Robo Army that's not already glaringly obvious by looking at these screenshots. The game was clearly designed to compete with games such as Final Fight and Streets of Rage, with the ability of the mighty Neo Geo horsepower behind it. The game is pretty well-detailed, there's a lot of nicely-designed (if forgettable) characters filling the world, and there's a good use of special effects.
The thing is, unlike the other games mentioned, there was not really anything compelling about this world, the characters, any of it. It wasn't bad at all, in fact the theme was rather groovy - but you can tell when a certain amount of soul is missing from a game, there's no "character" for the audience to glom onto. They threw some gorgeous characters and nice tech into this world, but forgot to infuse some meat in there somehow.
This doesn't really matter, and as this was such an early Neo game, it's entirely forgivable. When it released, it was quite a looker, it felt fun to handle, and let's face it, this was an arcade game. Get in, drop a couple quarters, get some mindless thrills going, and I'd say they nailed it perfectly.
There's still a few nice touches in there to merit playing this now (hey, you can turn into a.. SUV-thing!) and there's always some satisfaction in bashing through these games. The production values are good, if a little garish at times, and in spite of my tone the world presented is actually pretty cool. Robo Army is by no means a must-play, but it's still worth having a look at if you need to unleash your inner neanderthal for a Saturday afternoon.
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