Neo-Detroit has been invaded by a legion of robots; their leader instructs them to seize the population and use their brains to clone themselves. Wait, what? Use their knowledge to build more of their number perhaps? Maybe the human brains are being scooped out for use in the robots? Whatever’s going on, it isn’t good and so the U.S. Forces have deployed the “Robo-Army” to put a stop to it. SNK’s Robo Army joins the ever growing library of Neo Geo titles on the Switch eShop, and whilst it may not be one of the big name games this scrolling beat ‘em up should not be dismissed - it is actually rather good.
As enjoyable as the game is, upon start up it is a little disappointing to discover the Robo-Army consists of just two members. Solo players get to control “top member” Maxima whilst player two gets to control Maxima’s loan subordinate Captain Rocky. Despite a different look and some minor move differences (Maxima will elbow enemies at close range, Rocky bear hugs them), the two basically handle identically. A larger and more varied Robo-Army would be preferable, but luckily our heroes have a number of different foes to contend with to keep the chaos entertaining.
The enemy forces include robotic birds, dogs and spiders alongside hordes of humanoid ones. They attack with variety, requiring thought as you attempt to fight your way through to the end. There’s even diversity amongst the bipeds, with some having the ability to stretch a foot out on a chain whilst others ride bikes and later watercraft. Wheeled bots are armed with flamethrowers and scuber bots emerge from the water to attack.
Special mention should be made of the numerous sub-boss and boss battles, which feature some fun designs and encounters. As well as larger versions of some of the regular robots, highlights include a giant robot monkey, a car with arms and legs that tries to eat you and a cute-looking creation that has laser beams but mainly gobbles up junk, then spits out fully-formed robot assassins.
Maxima and Rocky have a number of ways to deal with these enemies, with the most effective being a simple punch. Ideal for smacking animal-like attackers out of midair you can also punch the torsos off of the humanoid ones; the legs carry on wandering for a while before exploding. Using punch in conjunction with the jump button actually performs a mid-air kick that is useful in certain situations, and pushing both buttons whilst grounded will unleash a spinning kick behind you that is great for dealing with sneaky attackers. Potentially fiddly, this button combination is mapped to ZR by default on Switch controllers.
Defeated foes explode, but some leave behind an arm that you can pick up to batter other robotic goons into oblivion with. It’s also possible to pick up oil drums and even cars to lob at oncoming attackers, and a power-up is available that briefly transforms your character into a vehicle, allowing you to mow down waves of the metal gits.
On top of these offensive capabilities there are also a number of special attacks you can perform. There is a separate six-bar gauge for your special attack and how much it is filled will determine the move performed. Have five or six bars and you can unleash an attack that will take out enemies on both sides. Three or four bars will send out a powerful blast in the direction you are facing and the final two bars will see you perform a short range attack. These are useful when in a tight spot and items are available throughout the game to restore some of the gauge.
Visually the game has a lot of detail in the stages as was typical for Neo Geo titles. There’s a variety of locations visited such as the jungle, ruined streets and inside a factory. The city can be seen burning in the background and wrecked cars litter the side of a smashed up highway. In a change to the usual left-to-right brawling, a couple of occasions see you work your way down a rope, fighting off attacks, sometimes jumping across to another to avoid getting hit or to take out some other would-be-assassin. Moody music adds to the atmosphere as does the various explosions and metal clanging sounds as you work your way through the game.
As is standard with these ACA releases you have unlimited credits so, as tough as things can get, seeing the ending will not be difficult. Of course you also get the standard Hi Score mode which challenges you to see how well you can do on one credit whilst also giving you a online leaderboard to try and move up. The five minute Caravan mode is also present for a time-limited score challenge.
It would be better if there was a choice of selectable characters, but Robo Army is a well presented scrolling beat 'em up that offers plenty of entertainment. A good range of enemies (and a number of ways to defeat those enemies) keeps the action interesting and there are a number of fun boss encounters. There's not a lot of incentive to replay once cleared, but the usual Hi Score and Caravan modes adds some replayability as you look to improve your scores. In might be a while before you boot it up again, but whether playing alone or with a friend each playthrough provides plenty of fun. For those looking for some old school arcade brawling action, Robo Army is a good pick.
Those metalic clanking noises are still awesome.
Another mindless button-masher, sorry, but it is. Choice is no bad thing but I'll save my pennies towards Odyssey thanks.
@yeayeanaynay this basically. God help any games releasing within a 100 mile radius...
If you like beatemups you just buy this game. That’s it and good night.
Yep, bought it on release and happy to add it to my growing Switch Neo-Geo library. Perhaps in the minority but gamers of a certain age and sensibility as myself get more excited about a new retro arcade release like this than the far more championed Nindie darlings. Choice is great and that we have a selection of both Nindies and Arcade titles every week is awesome. Just wish we had more of the latter from more of the big arcade powerhouses and the like. Konami and Capcom could do so much more with their coin-up legacy. Such a shame it pretty much seems to fall solely with emulation enthusiasts to keep these games alive and introduce them to a new audience. Anyway, all hail the Neo-Geo revival on Switch!
Guile's actual first 'unofficial cameo' on the NEOGEO? (The other infamous one being in Rugal's cutscene intro in KoF '94)
I'm with Lroy above. As someone who spent much of the 90's hanging about in the arcades,being able to actually own and play all of these games at home or on the go is something special. Most of these games I've never.actially played before, I just watched their demo running as my pennies were limited back then and what I did have usually always went on Sega games.So the majority of these Neo Geo releases are like new games to me while still being able to give me that feeling of nostalgia. Now bring on the Sega, Konami, Capcom and Namco classics, I'll buy the lot.
As for Robo Army, yep it's a lot of fun and gets a 7 from me as well. Really looking forward to Mutation Nation on Thursday.
Actually just burnt through a playthrough of ROBO ARMY with my son. Hooray for half-term and some rare afternoon gaming. What better than an arcade beat 'em up from my youth, lol!
I might even buy that cheap SquareBoy vs. Bully that hit the eShop recently for a fiver. Seems like a good fit for local co-op with my boy.
@OorWullie @Lroy well said, both of you. I feel the same. I like seeing indie games available and catering to people not interested in mainstream, modern games. However, I find that they are often missing something that I get from older games of the 90s. There's a certain design philosophy from then that made the games special to me and that is hard to replicate. Not saying good retro games are perfect, but they often have a certain something. I do enjoy some modern indies though such as Shovel Knight which I thought was fantastic.
I only played Robo Army once. It was pretty fun. I think they got extra mileage out of it just on cool art direction and overall concept. It's fun to look at. I think the upcoming Mutation Nation is even better. Glad to see them both come out. Hopefully they do Sengoku 2 and Sengoku 3(my favorite beat-em-up on the Neo Geo) as soon as possible to have fans of the genre totally covered as Neo Geo games go.
I was kinda on the fence with this one, but the review convinced me to try it out. I’ll pick it up soon.
@Lroy That's what it's all about. Choice. I wish more folks here saw it that way. Almost 200 games available on the Switch eShop (as of today) and we're getting so close to a catalog with games for everyone. Those complaining about NEOGEO games, or Indies, I feel they don't understand that not every game released is specifically for them. For every one person complaining there's maybe 15-25 others who bought the game, with only a handful of that number who are actually vocal here in the comments, so it looks worse that it really is. I'm glad you're enjoying these classics. Even better, that you're sharing your experiences. We need more testimonials like that!
@OorWullie With many arcades dying out in my area in the 90's, it was getting harder to even find arcade games, let alone specific titles. And once fighting games took over, finding any other genre of game on a NEOGEO MVS was practically futile. Almost every week I can thank HAMSTER for helping me catch up with games that I never got to see as well.
@sdelfin To me, it feels like a certain 'wow' factor is gone in today's games. Games that are largely not Nintendo's. Games, and game studios, used to try to top each other by making games better than the last, and better than what their competition did last. Maybe that's it? Maybe that, and less checking checkboxes.
good god... games back in the day were garbage. No idea how people can complain about the "drab brown" FPS on other consoles and later turn around and play this. This color palette is horrid.
@masterLEON I was quite lucky with arcades in my otherwise dull town. We had 2, Royals and Jonny's. Both were great and had a decent mix of the latest games and a section with some of the older or lesser known titles with a decent mix of genres too. Usually these cabinets were only 10p a shot so when money was low or the queues were too big for the newest games I'd go play some of them. Super Sidekicks was usually the one I'd go for. I recall Jonny's having a cabinet where you could select from a few Neo Geo games but that was probably towards the end of the 90's when they were struggling. It was around the time of the Dreamcast releasing that they really started to struggle. I think they both hung on as arcades for a couple of more years but they were a shadow of their former selves. One of them is actually still going but is purely slot machines. The other has turned into a tanning shop.
@Agramonte Are you familiar with the 90's? It was all about loud colors! Purple, green, and pink had to be in everything, and it was normal, LOL!
Also, graphics determine whether a game is good or not? Really? :-/
Robo Army will be mine. Oh yes. It will be mine. (Seemed appropriate to have a 90's comment!) Have Hamster announced the next games after Mutation Nation?
Apparently this game is "45 MEGS." Had they upped their game and offered me 46 MEGS, I might have bought it.
Good, I'll pick this up when I get a chance.
long live the beat em ups
This is my favourite beat'em up on the Switch so far, and i keep hearing Mutation Nation will be even better. Can't wait for Thursday!
Now, considering Zerodiv seems to have Dreamcast/Naomi emulation running on the Switch (they have announced Zero Gunner 2), i wonder if they could talk with Sega and bring us Dynamite Cop, Zombie Revenge and Dynamite Deka EX Asian Dynamite.
@GrailUK I too am keen to learn what the next batch of Neo Geo games are going to be. Please anyone in the know post an announcement - maybe in the forums. Think there is a thread on Arcade Archives titles?
@masterLEON Thankfully we not in the 90s (or 80s)... something one can forget looking at the sad state of the eShop.
Yes, it plays a part for tons of people. Just like in 2 weeks I will read 100 post on how nobody likes the mud brown palette of COD... people can't have it both ways.
@Agramonte There are people who care about the gameplay as much as they do the graphics (myself included). There are also those who want to play games from our past or, for those who mentioned already, have never played such games at the time they were new but now have the opportunity (myself, and the 15 or more people who always comment on the NEOGEO or other retro game articles). Some of us even play a wide variety of games and aren't stuck with one one or two genres and/or generations of games.
I'm not gonna lie though, there are games I won't touch based on what I see. And not necessarily because they look bad, either. Uncharted, for example. Beautiful graphics, detailed scenery, movie-like cutscene presentation and action. Horrible transitions in animation from one action to the next. The jump to swing transition and climbing looks so awkward. Running around and changing directions looks so stiff and Nathan doesn't even lean enough into the direction of the run, you know, like real people do. Thank you, BotW, for for having believable, natural movement.
CoD, the game's environments look fantastic and the audio mix is top notch, it's so immersive. The downside, it's a hitscan game (like many other FPSs today). No ballistics whatsoever, no trading (kills) ever. It's sad to think that we have such powerful computers and servers today, yet developers are still using shot checking routines based in the 90's because it's faster to resolve on the server. Man, I wish there was a popular shooter I could play that offers simple ballistics, and maybe some new and clever methods to traverse the map. Oh right, we have Splatoon!
And Robo Army, here? If I was into number scoring, I'd give it a 6/10. Not enough attack variety. No follow up attacks after the initial punch. Jump kicks are not very useful for getting in and opening up on an enemy because they deal the same amount of stun as a standard punch, which is barely any. It's almost like they want you to compensate by using your special attacks, and I'm not a fan of that type of mechanic. Not gonna comment on the graphics other than it's serviceable, because this is typical of what you can expect from a game that came out around that time. I hope Mutation Nation goes down better.
Thankfully we not in the 90s (or 80s)...
Says the one with the Blinky avatar. I mean, one would think you'd be a little more open to retro gaming because of that, just saying.
@masterLEON Oh for sure. I have Pankapu and Wonderboy... and even found Cosmic Star Heroine on the PS4 enjoyable. But just like modern games, they not all great. And to much of a "good thing" gets old.
Funny you would say that. I find the climbing in BOTW to be silly. It does not matter if a cliff or the tower rail - climbing up is a looped Spiderman animation. It can be almost Horizontal on a ledge and it stays the same - Clings to the wall - and the same animation keeps going. That said, If you get the full ancient armor at the 2nd lab.When you use a large ancient shield - one of the holes on it lines up perfectly with the center optics on the helmet. That amount of irrelevant detail blew my mind. I can point out the same silly/amazing things in Uncharted, ZeroDawn, AC.
Not played COD since the one where you run out a blowing up sub or ship at the start. That said, by end of the Holiday season I will have BattleFront2 - not because ballistics, leader boards, graphics etc. But because I live in a world where my college friends moved back home after college and part of my cousins still live in Europe. Jumping in an online game and talking crap with them after work is amazing. One sec with the strange Nintendo online service - and I know they don't have a clue what makes online play special for tons of us... and a shame a gem like Splatoon 2 is held down by it.
Would love Breath of Fire 4 on the Switch. That is "retro" for me.
I love the little guy - I think the design makes an awesome icon. You tell me to mindlessly run around a digital grid eating dots while it tries to catch me and I'll tell you I rather play Hobs - I appreciate the Past, no desire to live it. 😀
Yeah, climbing in BotW was a bad example. But what I was trying to get at was Link going from one action to a different action smoothly and believably versus Nathan's awkward transitions, which looks very 'video gamey'. If that makes sense. Horizon: Zero Dawn has great animation, better than BotW in most cases. (Though there's not much 'climbing' to speak of) I'd definitely wanna get into that at some point.
I'd love to get together with my friends like we used to but time's growing on us. Our schedules don't really sync, their tastes have changed, my tastes have changed, babies popping out of everywhere, less or no free time at all, a lot has changed. I usually play in the middle of the night on weekends because I'm trying to keep up my sleeping schedule for work (overnights, mostly). So I'm used to playing online solo. I'm still of the mindset that voice communication isn't 100% essential in Splatoon 1 and 2 due to design choices. It works out most of the time.
Yeah, we're definitely different breeds/generations of gamer.
This sounds right up my alley! Another Neo Geo gem that slipped past my radar, I really got to tweak that thing.
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