RoboCop

Moby ID: 1409

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Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 69% (based on 21 ratings)

Player Reviews

Average score: 3.3 out of 5 (based on 53 ratings with 3 reviews)

An early and wonky, but ambitious PC conversion

The Good
Before the 90s arrived with id Software and Apogee, along with better hardware, the IBM compatible PCs just weren't up to gaming. One would bother with an adventure, RPG, or strategy game, but fast paced action games were not all that much feasible, especially the scrolling ones that were so mainstream. There were the arcades, consoles, and various kind of home computers for that.

But the IBM compatibles were getting widespread as work-machines to finish the office job at home. So the software houses were daring enough to cash in with conversions of famous arcade titles. Content and quality was not important. They may have shrugged "It's the PC, what did you expect?"

That's not what I see with the PC conversion of Robocop (the Data East/USA release). Someone tried to make this a good game.

The big amount of detailed bitmap graphics show off what was not possible on 8-bit consoles. Especially the intro where the hand of Murphy gets blown off by a gun, like in the movie. One could not show that on consoles partly because of policies, partly of storage limitations.

All the arcade levels and features are implemented. The in-game graphics also tries best to look like the arcade. There are no arbitrary borders to cheat off screen space (as opposed to some Ocean/UK versions), nearly the whole screen is active.

There are more neat details to mention, like the robotic little instructions and messages that mimic Robocop's system messages, or the fact that they listed the controls on a screen, with two alternate keyset available for each action.

They also bothered to support hardware that was not so widespread yet, like EGA and Tandy.

The Bad
Despite all this, It's still kind of bad. Movement and scrolling is weird and choppy, as to be expected from a sidescrolling PC game of the era.

The controls are lagging too. Speaking of controls, Spacebar for shooting is a bad idea. Some old keyboards had really massive Spacebar keys that are hard to keep ramming. Home key for diagonal shooting? Ugh!

The graphics are badly drawn. They are detailed, but the proportions are hilariously off. Just look at the legs of ED-209 at the end of the first level, growing from huge to gargantuan and shrinking back as the animation goes. The artist must have been a beginner. Also the use of EGA graphics must have been a novelty at the time, regarding the very poor usage of colors. They just patched up the CGA graphics a little.

The movement of the sprites look silly, because the animation frames do not suggest much motion.

The PC beeper sounds are a torture here. Let's not talk about them. Good thing the in-game music can be turned off with the T key, otherwise it would be unbearable to play.

The Tandy chip sounds a lot better, and drastically improves on the experience (even though the majority of players didn't have access to it). Still leaves a lot to be desired. Surely, it is fitting that the music sounds robotic, but it's too raw and high-pitched, so it can get a little annoying. The sound effects are not very well designed. There is always a DING here and there (I cannot determine what action makes it occur) and it is obnoxious. The priority between music and effects is unbalanced. And why does it take ages for the music to start looping?

The Bottom Line
A nice try, but later DOS games make this one feel very dated and obsolete. Not to mention other versions of Robocop for other platforms.

DOS · by 1xWertzui (1135) · 2018

Faithful to the original coin-op version

The Good
In 1987, we were introduced to RoboCop – a man/machine hybrid who cleans up crime in Old Detroit and hunts down a gang of cop killers who were responsible for the death of Alex Murphy. Like many of its arcade ports of the time, Ocean's version is based on the coin-op of the same name; and although the version did not feature the blood and gore that was present in the movie, it still sold enough copies.

The majority of the game deals with RoboCop moving from left to right, shooting down thugs and defeating a series of bosses at the end of each level, including various versions of ED-209. There are several weapons on offer, with the best one being the flame thrower. This weapon can take out a group of thugs in one shot, and is more effective against the bosses.

There is one scene in the movie where RoboCop is at the shooting range, and two of the levels deal with this part. You have to shoot as many targets as you can before the time limit expires. Not found anywhere in the movie are “identikit” scenes, also to be also completed under the time limit. If you fail to complete your objective, you still proceed to the next part; you just won't get the bonus points.

Although the character sprites look smaller then its arcade counterpart, they look far better than its 8-bit cousins. There is sampled speech heard during the game. The one that I remember most is when RoboCop lists his primary directives when the title screen is displayed. There is also sampled speech in the other versions, but there is very little of it.

The music is good, and corresponds with the action scenes in the original movie. The tune that plays at the very start of the game is enjoyable to listen to, as with the tune when you engage in target practice.

The Bad
The background music is the same in each level, and there is this annoying five-second melody when you fight bosses. Also, I was sure that when fighting one of the ED-209s it suddenly walked off the edge of the screen for no apparent reason and I was unable to continue with the game.

The Bottom Line
Those that own a basic Amiga should have no problem running RoboCop, and they should be delighted that not only does the Amiga version remains faithful to the coin-op version, but it is much better than any other conversion. Except with the addition of the “identikit” scenes, the game blends well with the events of the movie. One thing I found strange is the way RoboCop can use a variety of weapons that he doesn't use in the movie.

Amiga · by Katakis | カタキス (43087) · 2010

A disappointing licensed arcade conversion.

The Good
It’s Robocop. Part man, part machine, all cop. What more could you ask for? I am a fan of the first movie and I played this game until I finished it, for that reason.
Ocean tried to fit in as many things as they could from the arcade and movie – the guys on motorcycles, the shoot the rapist holding the woman hostage scene (which is quite fun) and ED-209. There is also a variety of weapons – yep, the Manta gun is in there (the big one from the end of the movie) and 3-way bullets. What does make the game easier is that the enemies always appear in the same place every time. This allows you to ‘plan your attack’ through the levels knowing when and where to use the various weapons. Some levels don’t even allow you to use your weapons, Robocop holsters his weapon and you only have your fists.

The Bad
Does anyone remember seeing Robocop in the arcades for the first time and slipping in their first coin to play? Well don’t expect that from the PC version. The Amiga and Atari ST versions of Robocop were near perfect conversions of the arcade original. It appears that Ocean created a PC conversion merely to cash in on the money. It’s a pity it only came out in CGA, as the game would have at least looked a little more decent in EGA.
The controls are the old Q (Up), A (Down), O (Left), P (Right) combination. I have never been a fan of this as I prefer a game that allows you to assign your own default keys. So it’s an old game, but its annoying to have to think which keys you need to press to shoot the guy up in the window at a diagonal angle and then have to diagonally crouch to avoid his bullets zeroing in on you. I’d rather instinctively do it with the numerical pad. Or get a joystick. I didn’t have one back then.
You only have 3 lives in the game and I found that you could only lose them on certain levels (of which there are 9) in order to finish the game. They’re enough though.
I also found the boss level with ED-209 a little easy – he doesn’t move, just fires a set routine of bullets and you just need to know when to crouch and when to stand and punch him.

The Bottom Line
Lackluster graphics and finicky controls. A frustrating side-scrolling platform game which will only appeal to die-hard fans of Robocop. A weak attempt at copying the arcade original.

DOS · by Macintrash (2552) · 2000

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Martin Smith, Alsy, Jo ST, FatherJack, Dietmar Uschkoreit, Tomas Pettersson, Tim Janssen, Patrick Bregger, lights out party.