Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 05/10/04 | Genre: Fighting
What do you get when you combine a lackluster Role Playing Game with a shallow Action game with up to four robots fighting each other at once? You get the latest title from Nintendo and developer Noise--Custom Robo. This GameCube title is the first incarnation of the series in the US. However, Custom Robo is the third version in the series. After spending some time with the first version released in the US, it is easy to see why Nintendo has taken so long to bring it to us.
I hadn't read a lot about Custom Robo before beginning my review. I was not at all familiar with the series and wasn't sure what type of gameplay to expect. When I began the story mode, I was very surprised to see the game was an RPG. The graphics were decent--but not spectacular. However, the characters had multiple expressions shown by their text boxes when speaking. This really helped me forget the average graphics. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the visuals. They are bright and colorful. However, the game looks very 'first generation.'
Another problem I found with the RPG elements in Custom Robo is that the world is extremely static and linear. Our main hero has very little interaction with the environment and this assisted in pulling me out of the experience. I did not feel like I was involved in a living, breathing world. This is something I expect to get in an RPG and such little interaction would fit better on the Game Boy than the GameCube.
Once I got into the combat, I was even more disappointed with Custom Robo. I have played through some of the poorest RPG's every developed. Titles such as Inindo: The Way of the Ninja (SNES) and Beyond the Beyond (PS) are two examples of some of the worst RPG's to have ever been released. However, no matter how poor they were, I played through them. But not even I could suffer through the RPG elements of Custom Robo once I got to the combat. Instead of using a Strategy RPG or turn based setup, Custom Robo puts players in a real time action environment. This is great if you like twitch gaming. However, I prefer to have a little more skill in what I play. The gameplay has you hide behind walls, lob missiles at up to three enemies, and try not to get hit. There is not much skill involved and winning or losing is more a matter of luck.
Characters in Custom Robo fight each other in a digital realm with customizable robots. You gain new parts after each fight and can equip your robot with whatever parts you have available. The beauty of the game is that once you progress through the RPG elements, you will have enough parts and extra areas unlocked to battle friends instead of the computer AI.
The story in Custom Robo isn't enough to keep you playing. You control a teenage boy who discovers his father dies and his dying wish is for him to become a commander of a Custom Robo. You quickly enlist with a local mercenary group and begin to live out his desires for you. That is about as interesting as the story gets so you won't be playing through the game just to see the conclusion.
Like most of Nintendo's titles that they have released in the past year, Custom Robo focuses more on the action against other people. However, it is very strange that in order to enjoy these elements that you must complete the boring single player modes to gather enough parts to have interesting fights against friends.
While you may find that the game is worth a rental, I wish Nintendo would have left this one overseas and spent their localizing dollars bringing us another title that has deeper, more satisfying gameplay. Normally I enjoy Nintendo's First Party releases. But I reluctantly give Custom Robo an F and nominate it for one of the worst games I have played in 2004. Come on Nintendo, I know you can do better.