Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Insert Lots of Coins! - Robocop (Data East 1988)

A bit of a personal milestone here..This piece of coin swallowing awesomeness has the distinction of being the first coin-op game I ever probably cost me over a hundred quid like but my 9 year old self was proper chuffed because no one else I know of ever managed it before the advent of emulation...

This game first showed up in the pub my mum helped run in late 1988, a full year after the equally awesome film came out, where it looked like this..

There were a couple of different versions of this knocking about, including a 2 player version, but for the most part, this game was a single player affair.

The gameplay was ridiculously simple, you, playing as Robocop, had to move from left to right through various stages in old Detroit, shooting and punching the various thugs, pugs, punks, rapists (recreating the famous scene from the film where Robo shoots a rapist in the pods), burglars, murderers, bank robbers, chainsaw weilding assholes etc you came across, before then squaring off against en end of level boss, which more often than not would be some gangsters and a vehicle, or an ED-209 of some description, which progressively got tougher and had more weapons as the game went on, but all of which would settle into a nice predictable pattern so you could plan your attacks accordingly.

Now, while this was a pretty much run of the mill shooter, similar in gameplay to Contra/Probotector, insofar as you only had one life to get things done, you did have a health bar, which you could refill by picking up jars of baby food that appear occasionally throughout levels, and by successfully completing the shooting galley bonus rounds, so you didn't always have to worry about getting hit occasionally, in fact, some parts of the game, its unavoidable, especially on the last level in the OCP building where you are confronted with a horde of machine gun and grenade wielding thugs, laser turrets, mortar firing robots, laser barriers and spikes that rise out of the floor (yeah, you remember that bit from the film, right?).
Thankfully though, Robo can pick up different weapons. you start the game with your basic pistol, but soon enough, youll find a 3-way spread gun, a "double shot" pistol that can penetrate through multiple enemies, and finally, the cobra assault cannon, which can penetrate through enemies, has a small area of effect, and can cause serious damage to heavilly armoured foes..state of the art bang bang!..problem is with these upgrade, they only have a limited amount of ammuntion, so you have to be really careful when you decide to hit that fire button.

Throughout play, there are also multiple instances of digitized voice effects from the film, Robo says things like "Your move creep!", "Drop it!" and "Thank you for your co-operation!", all while the Robocop theme plays in the background...ace!

So, to a 9 year old boy,t his game was the epitomy of awesomeness, and the only thing that made it a pain in the ass was having to beg for 10ps to shovel into its hungry coin slot, because this game required a shitload of 10p pieces in order to advance, simply because when the screen starts getting busy, and you havent learned the bad guys patterns, you die a lot, esp after the difficulty curve seriously ramps up once you have gotten past the first 2 levels.

Does this game stand the test of time?, well, yes, its still fun to play, although now its a little unrewarding being as, and i know this might sound weird, you don't get the self satisfaction from knowing that you only had 1 credit and managed to get really far (although that said, even with emulation, I can now complete this game without dying at all).
This game also got ported to various home consoles and computers, but none of them could match the gameplay of the original arcade outing, in fact, it has to be said that this game is pretty much the only example of a good Robocop game in existence, being as pretty much all Robocop games that followed it were crap.

So yeah, the Coin-op Robocop is still a good game, even today.

No comments:

Post a Comment