I remember the hype for Rise Of The Robots well. Edge ran a development series on it for about a year and plenty of other magazines here in the UK gave it copious coverage. One of the 2 kids gaming TV shows (Bad Influence) had it as the main basis for their intro for a whole season. It was bandied about as a Street Fighter 2 beater with much talk about the 3D modeled graphics and the advanced AI. Originally it was just going to be on a few computer systems, then got announced as a simultaneous release on a plethora of platforms which pushed the date back and back increasing the anticipation even more. Then the reviews started arriving and the early ones were incredibly positive and the screenshots certainly looked amazing, not to mention having a Brian May soundtrack. I rushed out and bought it of course.
And then the reality set in. The graphics certainly do look fantastic for their time but the single fire button mechanic limits the moves to a bare handful. No jumping over your opponent or being able to turn around. The Brian May soundtrack is a 10 second clip. Only 5 robots in the basic game, none of which you can play as except in 2 player. And don’t bother with the 2 player either since whoever isn’t the cyborg will inevitably lose. That imbalance carries over to the single player game with hugely overpowered opponents after the first round or two. There is a certain challenge in discovering the techniques needed to beat the game given how broken it is but it doesn’t make it any more fun. I played it to the end the day I got it and took it back for a refund the next day. I’d not gone back since then and I can’t say age has improved it any. I did manage to beat the thing again eventually last night but didn’t have a whole lot of enjoyment beyond the relief of it being over.
The frustrating thing is, it isn’t that far off being a half decent game. The PC wasn’t exactly spoiled for choice with fighters at the time. The robot design is great, they move fluidly enough and in SVGA no less. Put in a proper control system, a load more moves, do a bit of balancing and it could have been half decent. What we got is clearly a rushed release to get something out of the door, Mirage must have simply taken on too much. A small team trying to release on so many systems at once was insane.
The magazine reviews from the time are intriguing with scores ranging all over the place. I don’t know whether the good scores were because all these reviewers were too embarrassed to pan it after hyping it up or influence from Time Warner. I expect the latter but they can’t possibly have been honest opinion.
It sold well enough to get a sequel at any rate. I’ve fired that up very quickly just to see if it worked and it does actually appear to be a proper fighting game with a big roster of characters, 6 fire buttons, jumping over enemies and the like. I’m actually looking forward to trying it now, it might be the game the first one should have been.
I remember vaguely to have played this as a kid but not enough to have left any impressions on me.
Now, after the years when I fired it up I felt quite disappointed. Some say that this game is one of the worst fighting games ever made and now after playing it for a while I must say that I agree with them.
The controls are wooden, the adversaries have massive reach and the whole thing seems quite unfinished.
I think I got it as a freebie from the computer / D&D magazine I was subscribed to at the time. I didn’t like it one bit.
Based on the release dates, both MK and MK2, as well as SF2 were already available on the PC before Rise of the Robots got released, with MK3 and SSF2T coming not far behind. Not difficult to see why nobody would really want to play this game.