Medabots has always been a bit of an odd case. Clearly created to hitch a ride on the Pokémon hype train, it's a series about people who - instead of capturing and fighting with creatures - collect machine parts to build and fight with robots. Unlike Digimon, which was also similar in setup, Medabots never really seemed to catch on outside Japan. It was initially created as a game, then turned into an anime series, which then spawned several more games - the two titles now on the eShop were the first to be released after the anime started, and are in fact partially based on that series.

In Medabots: Metabee & Rokusho - originally released for the Game Boy Advance - you play as Ikki Tenryou, a young boy who somehow manages to end up owning his own Medabot, after which he embarks on a quest which turns out to be bigger than he could've possibly imagined. It's basically, the same story as almost every RPG ever made. Medabots are, of course, the most important thing in this game world. Each consist of six different parts - a frame, a head, two arms, legs (which count as one) and a medal, which essentially brings it to life. Naturally all this stuff can be fully customized to create lots and lots of different combinations. You can also have up to nine Medabots at once, so you don't just have to keep changing one

After obtaining your first Medabot it won't be long before you're thrust into your first robot battle, or robattle as the game calls them. Robattles will be the main thing you'll be doing when playing this game, and you'll quickly find out why. These fights are quite a bit more complicated than those in other similar series, and it'll take a while to truly understand all the mechanics.

The basic gist of it is that you and the opposing side can have up to 3 robots in each fight. Before each turn you and your opponent will assign actions, which are then all carried out at the same time. Naturally, each robot's stats will determine how effective and fast their attacks are and how much damage they can take. What's particularly interesting is that robots do not have one single health pool - they have four different health pools for different body parts. This means that certain parts might end up getting destroyed first, disabling certain functions.

Although this idea sounds cool on paper, it's completely impossible for you to decide what exactly your robots are going to shoot at. Destroying an enemy robot's head instantly defeats it, and if said robot is the leader of the team it even instantly ends the battle, but since you can't target the head manually you're going to have to rely on complete and utter luck to make battles end quickly. Unfortunately this goes both ways, as the enemy could very well give you an instant blow to the head and knock you out.

While the game has its fair share of plot-related battles, it also has those accursed random battles when you're just walking around. And unlike Pokémon these aren't just limited to specific areas, they're practically everywhere, including in towns. It's likely not a stretch to say that over half the game will be spent in random battles, and considering it can take around 30 hours to reach the end during your first time playing that's quite a lot of fighting!

Aside from the fighting the game is generally fairly similar to the series it takes inspiration from. Expect lots of walking around, talking to people and shopping for items and parts, before setting off for the next plot marker and getting in some fights along the way.

It should also be addressed that there are indeed two versions of the game available for purchase. If you're interested, it really doesn't matter all that much which one you buy - the only differences are that you start with a different Medabot, and that each version has a few of its own exclusive parts to find. Originally you could trade things between versions with a GBA link cable, but as with other Wii U eShop games this feature is unfortunately unsupported.

Graphically it's quite a nice game for being released relatively early in the Game Boy Advance's life. All of the characters have anime-styled portraits, and the sprites are all nicely detailed, with the robot sprites even changing depending on which body parts get destroyed. The music isn't amazing by any means, but good enough, and there's certainly some enjoyable, catchy themes in there.

Conclusion

Mechanically, Medabots is quite interesting and offers a unique spin on the Pokémon formula, with its 3-on-3 battles and simultaneous actions. There's also arguably a lot more strategy involved, but unfortunately it's marred by some random factors. Expect some amount of frustration if you choose not to use the available save states! The random battles when walking around can also be a major annoyance, but if you're willing to put up with all of those aspects - as most surely are when picking up a Virtual Console RPG - then you can find a fairly decent, if not truly special alternative to Nintendo's famous franchise.