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SummaryAn early and wonky, but ambitious PC conversion
The GoodBefore 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 BadDespite 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?