If you close your eyes and picture the perfect robot battle, there would probably be a lot of crunching metal and fiery explosions and maybe some laser swords and swarms of missiles. Some of these things are found in RoboFighters, but only in an understated way that makes the actual game far less exciting than the one in your imagination.
RoboFighters nails the look of the combatants, at least. The robots themselves are all bipedal with a Transformers-like aesthetic and each packing up to two weapons apiece. You can customize your robot in the style of foes you defeat and select their color scheme as well. However, all variations of robots play exactly the same.
Hey, no targeting below the belt!
The weapons are standard issue, as far as robot arsenals go. You’ll start with a blaster and grenade launcher and eventually unlock shotguns, lasers and flying mines. You can fire these weapons by tapping on the left or right side of the screen, and run around the arena by tilting the device. The controls work great, but the moving and shooting actions each have their own energy bar that depletes very quickly.
The weak battery life of your robot drains the excitement out of the arena matchups. It brings the fights to a halt, as you are forced to constantly hide behind walls in the arena to recharge. Winning any battle from the first combatant to the last requires simply popping out, firing a few shots, and then hiding. Once you discover this exploit, the rest of the competition quickly loses its appeal.
When you’re not in combat, RoboFighters lets you build up your robot’s abilities through three different minigames. The attack minigame, which has you shooting targets as soon as they spin around, is by far the most enjoyable of the three. The defense and speed minigames, however, use irritating and awkward tilt control. We found it better just to ignore these minigames completely. Who needs speed and defense boosts if your arena strategy is based on hiding behind a wall?
Several other annoyances help kill the robo-fun. Energy swords, which could be an exciting component, are reduced to nothing more than an automatic melee attack that is often ineffective. The storyline is also ridiculous, with robots taunting that all the answers will be revealed, though no questions have been asked. Plus, on the main menu, clicking on “extras” leads to just the developer credits and options menu. Some extras!
RoboFighters is easy to pick up and play, and the visuals are very good for an iPhone game. However, the actual fighting is too basic to be any fun, even if you can take on a friend in local wi-fi multiplayer. If you’re eager to see your ideal robot battle come to life on the iPhone, RoboFighters is just a shaky half-step forward.