Games with a good sense of humor are, as a rule, inherently more fun to play. The makers of Robocalypse seem to understand this concept very well, because they’ve put humor in nearly every aspect of the game. It came as little surprise when we learn that the writers once wrote for Spongebob Squarepants.
Robocalypse was originally developed for the Nintendo DS, and then ported to the iDevice. We welcome this change, especially if they are going to be ported so well. It begins with a stunning and hilarious animated cutscene, introducing the excellent story. It starts with the toaster engineer making an appeal to his typical factory boss, Mr. Yellin, that producing military robots alongside polite toasters is dangerous. Of course, while Myron, the aforementioned stereotypical nerd, is trying to appeal to his boss and his boss’ extreme blood pressure, there is a accident which produces polite, but evil robots, bent on taking over the world. It just gets better from there.
A flamethrower makes everything better.
The game gives you a great tutorial, as Myron is launched into the role of leading the factory’s perfectly obedient reserves of military robots to fight against this new threat. You take his role as you are presented with a scene very familiar to real-time strategy players, with a minimap in the corner, and a limited view of your surroundings. In fact, most features of a PC RTS are here: heroes, a variety of ground troops, distinct buildings for creating these things, fog of war, and masses of enemies. Each hero has a personality and separate skills and abilities, as in other RTS games like Warcraft.
Some features have been scaled down or changed to fit the new platform, but some have mysteriously been left as they were, even when this causes problems. The feature that comes most prominently to mind here is rather a lack of a feature. The developers did not create any type of auto-save feature, so if you’re playing on an iPhone and accept a call (as most of us do, important as we are), your progress in that mission is entirely lost. But there is a ‘Slide to Pause’ function, which we very much liked.
But the game is so good!
AI is also more heavily relied upon for the ease of use on the iPhone. Your heroes are controlled by your direct interaction, but your ground troops are all AI-based. The only control you have over your armies is through action and defense flags, which summon units to them to fight or defend until the end. Sadly, there is no intuitive way to manage these flags once they’re placed, and your troops have an unfortunate obsession with Lewis & Clark, which is manifested in their tendency to explore places you never told them to go.
But our few complaints don’t overcome the positive qualities of this game. Robocalypse has amazing stylized animation and a jovial nature, combined with real-time strategy the iDevice hasn’t succeeded at before. Quite frankly, it’s a keeper.