Time for some more RoboCop games and we’re starting off with a game not based on any of the films for the first time (not even the not very good TV shows). It’s also a game that brought two classic 80s sci-fi icons together… because we never got a film version.
In keeping with tradition so far, again we have different games released on different platforms, just so I have more to cover than needed. There had already been some RoboCop Versus The Terminator comic books released in 1992. These various games were inspired by those comics and some much more directly than others. I’ll begin with the Sega versions of the game first. The Mega Drive version is that classic side-scrolling shooter stuff that the RoboCop games were famed for. With you playing as RoboCop in both the present and future batting T-800s and more. RoboCop Versus The Terminator on the Mega Drive is often looked on as one of the system’s better games and most definitely a fan favourite.
Of course, there were Master System and Game Gear ports too. As was typical for the time, the Master System version was a diluted port on the 16-bit game. It was still pretty damn good though, even if you could tell that it was most definitely time to leave the 8-bit era behind by 1993/94 when these games were released. The Game Gear was just the Master System game on a smaller screen. Both are good versions of the game and both are pretty playable… which isn’t something you can really say about the next game.
RoboCop Versus The Terminator on the SNES was not as good as the Sega games. It did do some things better. The presentation is excellent here and it uses a comic book style narrative, which works great seeing as the games were inspired by the comic books in the first place. The story is different to the Sega games and, to be honest, the gameplay is not as sharp and is made to be more ‘kid-friendly’ as was Nintendo’s stance in the 90s. The Mega Drive game had enemies turned into geysers of blood when they died. With the SNES version, they kind of explode into flames, no blood. The level interaction was far better on the SNES game though and the graphics had some great little details and lighting effects not found in Sega’s version.
But the SNES game just felt a bit slow and plodding overall. Even though they are very similar games, the Sega one just played better. The two 16-bit titles are still worth a look but I would definitely gravitate more towards the Mega Drive game over the SNES one. There was another version of RoboCop Versus The Terminator on the Game Boy. Here’s a playthrough of the Game Boy Color version of the game, it’s supposed to be a bit shit. There was even a version of the game on the NES. However, this game was never officially released despite being 100% finished. The ROM was eventually found and the game can be played… if you know how. Here’s a video of the NES version for your eyes and it doesn’t look too bad.
Back to basics now with some good old RoboCop… nothing else, just RoboCop. This version came from developer Titus and was released in 2001 for the Game Boy Color. In a change from the usual side-scrolling action, this game went for a top-down action-adventure type thing instead. It plays more like the first The Legend of Zelda game than an arcade action title. You have a (kind of) open-world map, items to find and missions to complete. Oh and a load of bad guys to shoot while trying not to kill the stupid civilians who just run around into your line of fire whilst waving their arms about. This one has some pretty good presentation for the Game Boy Color, you can interact and talk to characters like Lewis and Dr Lazarus, who first appeared in RoboCop 3. This doesn’t seem to be based on RoboCop 3 though (I mean, Lewis is alive). I think it is just a game based on the RoboCop lore over it being based on any particular film or TV show.
There was another RoboCop game from Titus, this time for the Game Boy Advance. Set to be released in 2002, this one was ultimately cancelled. It looked and played like a reworking/pseudo-sequel of the original arcade game with a few bells and whistles. Aside from RoboCop’s walk cycle that makes him look like he’s taken a robodump in his robotrousers and a jump animation that looks ‘floaty’ considering how heavy he is supposed to be, it didn’t look too bad. There’s a bit of info on the game right here. It seems like it wasn’t finished and still needed some work, but the game was dumped onto the Interwebs earlier this year. Since then, it has been played. Bearing in mind that this game wasn’t finished, I don’t think it looked too bad for a GBA game. With a bit more work, it could’ve been fairly good.
Titus did have another RoboCop game released in 2003 though. A FPS game that had some great ideas… but was just poorly executed. I remember playing this on PC but it was also released on the Xbox, PS2 and GameCube. I really wanted a good RoboCop game too but this one just failed to deliver. On the surface, RoboCop looked quite good. Big semi-open levels that you could explore. Main, secondary and even bonus objectives to complete. This played into the maps being somewhat open as you have to explore (a bit) to find the various objectives to complete. You could save hostages and even arrest some of the bad guys instead of killing them.
Unfortunately, for a game released in 2003, it looked and felt very 1998. RoboCop felt dated the second you loaded it up, which really was a shame. FPS games were ten a penny back then and the market was definitely being oversaturated by the genre, with pretty much every developer trying to make the next Half-Life. Sadly, most of those FPS games from the early 2000s lacked any kind of depth and RoboCop was one of them. They even messed up the iconic sound of his gun. How do you do that? It’s just a very, very, very ‘meh’ game that is woefully uninteresting. A great concept that was let down by the people who also brought you Superman on the N64… ’nuff said.
They’re really knocking it out of the park with these incredibly creative titles eh? This game was one of those awful mobile games released on iOS and Android in 2004 and developed by Digital Bridges. Let the truly terrible intro music, in the linked video, set the tone for the rest of the game. Based on the first film (now the title makes sense) and this was basically a remake of the original arcade game… only a really, really shit remake. Even for a mobile game, this was terrible. Confusingly, IGN gave it 8.5 out of 10 and called it ‘great’ and recommended that you download it. Further proof that IGN are fucking clueless hacks.
This game is atrocious and when the 1988 arcade game from 16 years before looks and plays better than a game from 2004… even a mobile game, you know something is very wrong. I’d rather play the just covered Titus FPS game than this and I never want to play that game ever again after this retrospective. How and why did IGN rate this game so highly and recommend it… HOW!? Well, they did call the main villain ‘Clarence Boddiger’ in their review, multiple times. As I said, they’re fucking clueless hacks. IGN also said (and I quote) that they:
“…was surprised by how much the theme music evokes the visceral feeling of the movie.”
Just go back and listen to that intro music again in the video I linked to and tell me that it ‘evokes the visceral feeling of the movie’. So IGN are tone deaf as well as fucking clueless hacks. I don’t much like IGN.
So what we have here is a game based on the not very good remake. Would it come as a surprise if I told you it wasn’t a very good game? Released for iOS and Android in 2014, developed and published by Glu Mobile… and that should tell you all you need to know about this one. Glu make crappy, ‘freemium’, pay-to-win, tappy-tap-tap games with zero depth. I mean, they also made Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. So that is the level of crapness we are dealing with here.
A very shallow third-person shooter that you really have very little control over. Hide behind cover, shoot bad guys and that’s it. End the level and earn a very small amount of in-game currency to buy weapons and upgrades that you just can’t afford unless you grind the same levels over and over endlessly. Seriously, some of the stuff you can buy in this game, with real money, runs into the £100s. RoboCop was a microtransaction orgy of fuckery that would kill your wallet fast than Clarence Boddicker (take note IGN) killed Alex Murphy (too soon?). Unbelievably repetitive and shallow and so crap that I wouldn’t be surprised if IGN gave it a 10/10 ‘highly recommended’.
Is it really too much to ask for a good RoboCop game? I mean, those earlier efforts were mostly good, some of them even great. The 8 and 16-bit titles had some solid gameplay and a lot of them still hold up today. RoboCop 3 on the Amiga was probably the last truly great game and that was 31 years ago. Okay, I’ll give RoboCop Versus The Terminator on the Mega Drive its due, it was pretty good too. Then we’ve had three decades of shit. RoboCop is not a hard IP to get right in terms of a game either, is it? You what this IP needs? A really fantastic development team who has a track record of handing hugely popular 80s films and can turn them into high-quality games…
Coming in 2023 from Teyon… the same studio who gave us the absolutely, fucking atrocious and shouldn’t be played by anyone, Rambo: The Video Game. A title that was released in 2014 and yet it felt and played 20 years out of date. They followed that up with Terminator: Resistance in 2019. A game that most reviewers tend to describe as ‘not as shit as Rambo, but still shit’. Yes, let’s give the studio who have already messed up two much-loved 80s movie IPs another much-loved 80s movie IP to make a game out of.
I am trying to stay open-minded here… but it’s hard, so very hard when their previous track record has been pretty dire and when we’ve had 30 years of several poor RoboCop games. Even the teaser trailer that they put out for this looks unfinished and when the buildings pop up, they really do pop up. I know it is early days and I know that it is just a teaser and all but I really don’t see RoboCop: Rogue City being a good game at all. Am I going to try to get a review code? Yes, yes I am. Why? Because I love RoboCop and so desperately want to play a good game based on the lore. I just hope that this one can prove my pessimistic cynicism wrong.
News just in as I edit this article, a gameplay trailer has been released for RoboCop: Rogue City so I can get a better look at it than the previously linked terrible teaser…
Right, let’s get the best bit out of the way first. That’s Peter Weller! The original RoboCop is back and he lends his likeness and has recorded new dialogue for the game, which is a massive plus. A release date too and RoboCop: Rogue City will be here in just under a year. For me, it looks very typical Teyon though. I’m not getting my hopes up and I will be keeping my expectations low, based on their previous games. But I’ll happily admit that it doesn’t look as bad as Rambo: The Video Game was and possibly slightly better than Terminator: Resistance.
Wait a tick. Teyon have the RoboCop and Terminator IPs? If they pass this chance up…
Other RoboCop Game Appearances
So, just as with the finale of my RoboCop movie and TV retrospective, I wanted to look at some unusual RoboCop appearances in other games. I could only find two and they are hardly unusual either. The part man, part machine, all cop cyborg showed up in Mortal Kombat 11 and in a rather awesome bit of IP entanglement, he got to fight the T-800. I’m really not much of a fan of the Mortal Kombat games, so I never got into this, but even a non-fan like me can really appreciate how awesome it is. I love the reference to the RoboCop Versus The Terminator games when they clash and the fights between them are certainly brutal. The poor Arnie impersonation lets it down a tad, but that is made up by the fact that Peter Weller voiced RoboCop.
Fortnite is the other game that RoboCop had popped up in. At this point, I think that every IP that has ever been made has appeared in Fortnite. I don’t play Fortnite, I’m 100% sure that I will never play Fortnite and I’m fairly certain that even the addition of RoboCop won’t ever change that. But hey, there he is… in Fortnite.
The ‘Other’ RoboCop Games
Originally, this is where I ended this article and as I was taking a break from RoboCop for a while, I suddenly remembered playing some fan-made Robocop titles from a few (many) years ago. I completely forgot where I found them at first, but after a bit of trawling through my old memory brain-thing and some exploring of the Interwebs, I soon got on the right path. You can find all of the RoboCop (and other) games at Park Productions if you fancy a look. I’m going to just very quickly go through them here though.
First up, RoboCop Classic. A remake of the ZX Spectrum game… which was fantastic. Only now with some added extras such as the game running a lot smoother, being able to change the colour palette and even the option to play with the Amstrad CPC graphics… or even a mix between the two. This is a great ‘back to basics’ game that improves on an already great port of the arcade original. If you liked the ZX Spectrum port, then this remake is well worth a play.
RoboCop 2D is a remake of the arcade original that follows the film much more closely. This one even lifts clips from the film to stitch the plot together nicely. Classic side-scrolling action that is pure arcade action from start to finish. This remake adds some new features to the arcade game with an upgrade system when collecting gold OCP coins and a special attack that rains fire down on the bad guys. Yet, it still retains that classic gameplay that I love about the arcade game. There are some nice little graphical touches too such as lighting, shadows and reflections that really make this rather nice to look at.
RoboCop 2D 2 takes what made the first remake good and improves on it… oh and it throws in the T-800 too. Yup, if you thought those RoboCop Versus The Terminator titles from the start of this article were the only ones, you were wrong. Just as with the last game, this one uses film clips to connect the story, only now it uses both RoboCop and The Terminator clips and some pretty good editing. Telling an original story that sees RoboCop taken from his own time and sent to the future to battle Skynet. Of all of these fan-made games, this one is the best.
Finally, there is Robocop 2D 3 and this one wasn’t as good. RoboCop could now walk up and down instead of just left and right, which really didn’t suit the game at all. This is just a ‘throw everything at you’ type of game with very little focus on gameplay. This one just feels very ‘messy’ over the last two and not as enjoyable to play at all. It’s not a bad game, it’s just not as good as the other two and seems like it was rushed out with very little thought. The entire RoboCop 2D Trilogy can be found here and yes, they are free.
And with that, my rather lengthy RoboCop retrospective is finished and it went on longer than I originally anticipated. Looking back on everything RoboCop, I think it’s a shame that the franchise hasn’t been treated with a bit more respect. In terms of games, I feel that Alex James Murphy hasn’t done too badly at all. There have been a few questionable titles, sure. But the good ones definitely outweigh the bad ones. The original arcade one is still pretty damn playable now too. Oh, please let RoboCop: Rogue City be good. It doesn’t have to be amazing, it doesn’t have to be the best game ever made. It just needs to be a good RoboCop game.
In terms of movies and TV, RoboCop, as a franchise, has been fucking awful. An amazing first film, one of the greatest sci-fi movies ever made. That was followed up with a half-decent sequel and a truly atrocious one after that. As for the remake? Meh, a wasted opportunity to make a great and adult RoboCop flick. The live-action TV shows are bad for that first effort and pretty okay for the second one. With the animated shows, the first one was quite good and the second one was just terrible. Maybe some franchises just shouldn’t become a franchise in the first place?