A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this real-time strategy game takes more time and thought than most other games. Players take on the role of a good guy trying to save the world from an attack of evil robots. The game has turned-based combat, where you will see explosions and shooting but no blood. There is a lot of humor and some flirty dialog between your character and the female science officer. One scene shows a character smoking a cigar. If your child likes platform games, this may not be a good fit. If he or she likes RPGs like Legend of Zelda, then he or she may be ready for Robocalypse.
What's it about?
Most real time strategy games are completely serious affairs, even when they feature cute characters (like those in Sony's PixelJunk Monsters). But ROBOCALYPSE is different in that it injects humor into a hardcore genre that has been, well, a bit stuffy. In this DS game, you command a legion of robots, all of whom are rife with attitude. The story revolves around an accident at Thermidoom Labs which has created military robots who run rampant and are hell-bent on destroying your city. This all has something to do with the manufacture of toasters, although it's not quite clear what.
It's up to you to build your own robot army by using various parts and 20 weapons. Robocalypse is generally buttonless. (You only use the buttons to scroll through sometimes comedic instructions and dialog.) You use your stylus to control the robots but pointing to where you want to go and tapping on the screen when you want them to shoot. These robots, who act as if they're straight out of a WWII epic starring John Wayne, are full of bravery and pizzazz. You'll also build factories, collect scrap metal, make batteries, use medics to heal your robotic soldiers, and, of course, attack the evildoers.
Is it any good?
While there's a lot to learn here, all of it is carefully told with a modicum of wit and snark by a nerdy young commander who used to lead his chess club in high school. The tutorial, which takes you through the mechanics of fighting, building, and moving your troops, runs about a half hour. Even during this time, the robots you attack will say mildly funny things like, "Don't shoot me. I'm wearing glasses." Building heroes and soldiers, scavenging, and fighting all can take place at the same time without any lags or freezes. It's a joy to see it all happen before your eyes.
As your game progresses, you'll find yourself depending on your powerful hero units more and more. But you can't use them without the others. Every soldier, medic, and factory is key to moving forward in the game. As you move from level to level, the cut scenes are cartoons and still frames, kind of like a Nickelodeon cartoon. You will find some goofy tension between the teen commander and a sexy scientist in a lab coat and miniskirt. But it's all in good fun. Overall, there's so much depth, story, and gameplay to Robocalypse that it's well worth the price of admission.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the organization and logic it takes to play Robocalypse. How can you take this attention to detail and make it work for you in real life? Did you know the writer from SpongeBob wrote the script for the game? How does the humor in the game affect your gameplay? Would you play the game if there weren't a comedic element? Why or why not?
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