Rise of the Robots
Rise of the Robots is a 1994 fighting game made during the post-Street Fighter II fighting game boom, developed by Mirage and published by Time Warner Interactive, and released for MS-DOS, Amiga, 3DO, CD-i, Amiga CD32, SNES, Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, and Sega Game Gear. The 3DO version was made by Absolute Entertainment, the same company who made the SNES port of Space Ace, while the Mega Drive/Genesis and Game Gear ports were handled by Data Design Interactive.
The game was extremely hyped before release; for instance, former Queen guitarist Brian May was advertised as doing the soundtrack, when in fact, only one of his songs ("The Dark") was used in the game. Not only that, there were plans to create a franchise out of the game, ranging from merchandising, an animated series, comic books, and even a theatrical film, none of which came to fruition due to the game's poor reputation. It would get a sequel for the PlayStation, PC, and Sega Saturn in 1996, called Rise 2: Resurrection, which was also poorly received.
In the year 2043, mega-corporation and robotics manufacturer Electrocorp created the Supervisor, an AI that can run every robot and computer system in the world. When it was infected by the EGO virus, it became self-aware and takes on a female personality, becoming a gynoid. She starts a cybernetic revolt and takes over all of Metropolis 4, killing Electrocorp's CEO. To combat the threat, the company builds a Cyborg clone of the CEO, dubbed Coton, to eliminate the Supervisor and her rogue robots.
Why It Sucks
- False advertisement. At least two of the promised features were either broken or completely absent: an innovative enemy AI and soundtrack composed by Brian May. None of the ports had all the content the game was supposed to have.
- The game does very little with the idea of the combatants being machines rather than people: for the most part they still just throw punches and kicks like in any other fighting game.
- The game's AI is jaw-droppingly dumb; you can beat the game by jumping forwards and kicking, the final boss, Supervisor, included. One of the advertised selling points is that the AI is supposed to learn your strategy and counter it, but the AI can literally be defeated without even looking at the screen.
- Each robot, or droid as they are called in the game, hits harder than the last to make up for the aforementioned dumb AI. This is especially apparent if you're fighting the Builder, Military, and Sentry droids. Most droids can kill Cyborg in less than five hits of a certain attack, even on the easy difficulty.
- The hard mode of the game is ridiculously cheap; the AI reads your controller input. Every time you attack, the enemy droid also attacks at the same time and their attacks tend to be higher-priority. In addition, in the Amiga version at least, your attacks only deal damage if the fire button has been held down to build up a "power bar" before striking, which is an incredibly stupid and awkward mechanic.
- The first enemy droids can be easily pushed to the right corner. Sometimes the droids even walk to the right corner on their own volition.
- Because of sprite limitations, the game cannot handle characters turning around mid-fight, so it is impossible to jump over an opponent. This is only not a problem because jump-kicking is generally a completely viable way to deal with being pushed into a corner, but it can be an issue in two-player mode.
- Some of the droids have a large range advantage making it very likely for Cyborg to be attacked in places where you can't retaliate in the current position.
- The later droids you fight have an absurd amount of health, taking many hits to take down.
- You must face every droid twice before fighting the final boss
- The default timer setting of 30 seconds on the Genesis version makes it nigh impossible to win a match. It takes more than 30 seconds to defeat any droid, and if the timer expires the one with lower health suddenly dies and loses the round. The player must disable the timer to even stand a chance of winning the game.
- The 3DO version forces you to switch between punches and kicks by using the block button despite the 3DO pad having three face buttons and two shoulder buttons.
- The multiplayer is blatantly unbalanced. One player is forced to become Cyborg and can't choose any other droid.
- No continues. When you die, you go back to the beginning of the game.
- When you beat the game, the only thing you get is a cutscene compilation and a password to unlock the Supervisor in two-player mode. It doesn't even return to the title screen for you forcing you to reset the game.
- The Genesis/Mega Drive‘s soundtrack is a butchered version of the SNES and CD-I soundtrack.
- The Amiga/Amiga CD32 and MS-DOS versions have no ingame music at all.
- The Amiga A1200 version comes on 13 floppy disks and requires a second disk drive.
- The CD32 version still only uses one fire button like the Amiga version, even though the CD32 controller had four buttons.
- The Amiga version scoring two 90%+ reviews led to allegations, with former Amiga Power journalist Stuart Campbell questioning the practice of "reviewing games at the publisher's office with the entire PR department looking over the reviewer's shoulder."
Sega Game Gear version problems
- The Game Gear version is even worse than all the other versions of the game, with most of the same problems, and additional problems such as inferior graphics (including eye-searingly bad, or flat plain generic backgrounds), downgraded music, horrible controls and the difficulty being locked to Hard mode (without any options to change the difficulty whatsoever), making this version even more unplayable than the other versions of the game.
- The only attacks you can do are a jump kick and a shoulder strike.
- Before a match starts an analysis of the enemy droid appears, showing stats such as intelligence, power rating, combat ability, the strengths and weaknesses of the droid, and finally the threat level. However this does not relate to the actual mechanics of the droid as the droids all have the same strategy, that being essentially "use the jump kick." The droids all have a poorly designed AI, and no droid acts differently, but each droid still is stronger than the last.
- The Builder droid is an exception in that it can easily be defeated by the jump-kick method used in all other versions of the game.
- The game's graphics are very good in most versions of the game and are quite detailed by 1994 standards, from the colorful backgrounds to the fluid digitized sprites based on 3D animation of the characters.
- It has also featured a cutscene on the PC version while the 3DO version has a narrative at the intro.
- The music is very good as well. The original soundtrack was found on the CD-i disc while the SNES version has a catchy and upbeat techno soundtrack that is pretty good, especially the songs Resurrection and The Dark from the album by ex-Queen guitarist Brian May.
Critics from Electronic Gaming Monthly and GamePro have praised the game for its good graphics, but have criticized it for its limited moveset and controls. One of EGM’s reviewers have declared the 3DO version to be "by far the worst fighting game I've ever seen". Amiga Power gave the game 5%, describing it as "farcically tedious." The Sega Game Gear version is also considered to be the worst version of the game.
YouTube reviewer PlayIt Bogart described it as the "E.T. of our generation". Stanburdman says it is one of the most deceptive games of all time, and the robots are so overpowered even on easy-mode that the robots can kill you with one slap to the face. According to the title he gave the video, he thinks the game is even worse than Shaq Fu.
- The arcade version was never officially released: only a prototype ROM exists. It is the only version where both players can select any robot they like in two-player mode.
- Designer, Sean Griffiths, went on to Rebellion Development to produce Rogue Warrior.
- Heavy Nova, another infamously bad fighting game that features robot characters.