We recently reviewed the videogame version of the Spongebob Squarepants Movie. While that game isn't a classic, it does a fine job of recreating the movie and providing some fun, simple gameplay for its target audience: Children. Robots, the videogame version of the recently released movie, is fighting for that same audience, but it has an entirely different plan of action that is unlikely to make it all that popular.
Firstly, being a movie licensed game it includes all the voice talent from the movie, right? Wrong. It appears that Ewan McGregor and Co. were too busy to voice the game. Youngsters expecting a lot of footage from the movie will also be disappointed, with clips not appearing as often as they might like and when they do appear they are rather dull. If you haven't seen the film you'll probably struggle to follow the story as the game feels pretty disjointed. At least the game looks the part, on the whole, if you're a kid. Kids playing the game will be pleased with the faithfully recreated characters and environments. Adults looking in on their children's playtime will probably sneer at the game's rather rough look (especially on the PlayStation 2 version) which detracts somewhat from the overall visual package.
Once you grow up (which takes all of ten minutes) you'll be able to use projectile weapons. In an ideal world this could have saved the game, with ropey platform elements being countered by some fun blasting action, but, unfortunately, we don't live in an ideal world. Combat, using projectile and melee weapons, feels clumsy, and anyone accustomed to the Ratchet & Clank or Jak series' will almost immediately be put-off.
The game's main problem is its lack of originality. Obviously not wanting to stray too far from convention, Robots combines mediocre platforming with tedious and repetitive 'collect a series of objects' missions. There are some slight variations along the way, but with every leap Rodney attempts being a hassle, it is hard to imagine anyone wanting to experience the whole game. The developers seem to have borrowed from recent action platformers, but have failed to take anything good from them.
On countless occasions you'll have spent twenty minutes, or thereabouts, battling against an awkward camera and lose controls, finally reaching an end of a section, only to realise that there is one item that you missed. With the memory of the previous twenty minutes' play burned into your retinas, it takes a dedicated gamer to go back and search for that missing piece.
We don't expect movie licensed games to achieve greatness, but we do expect them to at least offer some enjoyment to people who enjoyed the movie. Robots is one of the poorer efforts we have played in quite some time, with only the smart - but rough - visuals saving it from being a complete disaster. You could probably pick up the first two Ratchet and Clank games for the price of Robots, so unless you are collecting movie merchandise or really bad games, you'd have to have a screw loose to even consider adding this to your collection.