In 1987 Paul Verhoeven gave the world Robocop and it was good. A sci-fi action film now famed for its often imitated biting social and media commentary brought it above and beyond the normal 80’s blockbuster fodder.
Not that Robocop skimped on the violence and gore of course, and for young me aged 8 at the time that was cool. Commentary be damned – Robo was a big-ass cyborg with a big-ass gun who fought a big-ass robot. Due to the 18 certificate placed on the film it would be quite a few years before I even saw a heavy edited version (Once I even called him… Airhead), so the inevitable tie-in game of the movie was all I had.
Initially an arcade game, Robocop was ported to pretty much every platform under the sun. Ocean software probably would have even made a Casio calculator port given the chance. It was the Speccy version I initially owned, but after upgrading to the Amiga I played it on there as well. After all, the huge improvement in hardware would lead to a better game right?
The problem starts when you consider the Robocop game wasn’t particularly great. The graphics were pretty good for the time, and it felt slick enough to play – but it was just a basic side-scrolling shooter. It blew most of its big tricks on the first level – shooting bad guys, punching men on bikes, jumping over grenades (Robo jumps? Who knew?) and that boss battle with ED209 at the end. Further levels brought in slightly different bad guys but they didn’t add much, and every other boss battle seemed to be an ED209 re-skin.
Things did get mixed up a little bit, with bonus games like shooting galleries and photo-fits adding some variety. It was kind of cool the way they re-created the scenes where Robo rescues the attempted rape victim, and saved the old man in the board room… But in the end it was just another arcade title.
Now Ocean did pretty well with the 8-bit versions of the game (with the music even being licenced for use in an ad for Ariston kitchen appliances), but the 16-bit versions failed to impress. For a start the graphical detail was reduced a lot from the arcade version – the amount of colours has been reduced, walls are often solid colours rather than being patterned, and characters generally look kind of smudged in comparison. Like Robo had got a bit rusty and had been told Vaseline works a charm or something.
The controls are largely the same, with jump being a little more awkward due to there only being one button on Amiga sticks of the day. Either press space or tap down then up. It's awkward but at the same time it doesn’t really affect the game as the controls are nice and responsive, and it seem the difficulty has been set down a notch or two.
Although the extra levels are present and correct, it seems the final level has been cut down in length. Not that it really matters; all you would really be missing out on is some identi-kit normal bad guys. Then you kill Dick Jones and get a screen of text as congratulations.
But then all the speech from the arcade version is still present and correct, with Robo reading out his prime directives at the start, and a “thank you for your co-operation” at level end. There are lots men being shot and punched, and the loading screen looks kind of bad-ass and as an 8 year old that’s pretty much all I could have asked for.
These days though, my tastes are far more refined (I like a good menu screen as well now) so Robocop falls well short of what I would call a good game. Maybe it’s because I played it too much and find it easy enough to complete, but more likely it’s because it’s all a bit arse really.
There are no remakes or legal emulation options for Robocop The Game, so you’re looking to go the legally shaky route of downloading from a ROM site. To WinUAE!
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