Today I'm taking a look at RoboCop 2 on the NES, obviously, and I'm amazed that it's taken me this long to get a RoboCop game onto the site. Well okay my associate, mecha-neko, wrote a guest post a few years back about the 2003 PC game, but that thing's more of an eldritch abomination trapped in a crude video game form, and knowing too much more about it could drive you mad.
I've played a couple of the old RoboCop platformers in the past, but I've never seen this one before so it's all going to be new to me. If it's anything like the others I've seen though... we're not going to get on.
It's been a long while since I've seen the second RoboCop movie, but I definitely remember a raid on a drug lab, so this seems to be following at least some of the plot. Oh 'nuke' is a drug by the way, I'm not wrecking nuclear weapons here.
Weirdly the designers have chosen to give him a bit of inertia in RoboCop 2, so it takes me a second to get to full speed when I walk, and he even has a bit of a slide when he stops. It's an interesting new interpretation of how a titanium cyborg would move, but I can't help but notice that it sucks.
This'd usually be the part where I completely ignore the manual and try to figure the game out for myself, but I flipped through the thing out of curiosity and found that someone's drawn little cartoons in there to show off Robo's moves.
Yeah I know his alternate universe doppelgänger leaps around a lot in the new film, nuRoboCop is an nimble and athletic cyborg indeed, but I've seen all the original movies and I definitely don't remember RoboCop Classic even once managing to get both feet off the ground of his own accord.
Well okay he did do that jaunty little hop once to get out of the way of a van, but that's all that springs to mind. I ain't even acknowledging the jetpack.
It's a bit of a pain, because there's some nuke sitting up there that I'm meant to be destroying and now I can't reach it. But I deliberately dropped down here because there was some other nuke placed next to the barrels as well! I'm so confused.
Of course I'm playing as an officer of the law, so I can't just open fire at criminals no matter how much they annoy me; I'm not The Punisher.
Hey there's some more nuke down there, surrounded on both sides by water. No idea how they expect me to destroy that, seeing as I can't swim or drop down through platforms.
Fortunately my cybernetically-enhanced instincts kicked in and I was able to steer RoboCop backwards enough here to land him safely on the pavement.
ONE REPLAY OF THE ENTIRE LEVEL LATER.
DESTROYED 22% of the drugs? No wonder Robo's so pissed off that he's crushing that brown paper bag with his bare hands; he is not a happy cyborg.
Strangely it claims that I inadvertently ARRESTED 20% of the villains somehow. I guess some of them must have survived their gunshot wounds.
It certainly adds to the challenge, but it doesn't seem all that fun to me. In fact the manual even specifically mentions that it's more fun to shoot them, so who knows what the developers were thinking there. "Fuck, our game is really tiny, what can we do it drag it out so they can't beat it in one rental?" probably.
It's a little awkward though, as the cursor is as slippery on screen as RoboCop himself and it likes to drift for a bit after I've stopped moving it.
To be honest though, now that I've learned to compensate for cursor momentum I'm enjoying this more than the platforming. Funny really, as as the firing range is supposed to be my punishment for failing the first stage. The penalty for failing the firing range is replaying the first stage, with the false hope that maybe you'll actually destroy enough drugs this time around. It's a very Sisyphean kind of game I guess.
Oh, but there is one catch:
But whatever, I'm through to stage two now, and I've still got one shooting range second chance left if I need it, so I'll try not to worry about the things that don't matter yet. The way things are going I'll be lucky if I can even make it to stage three.
Mega Man level by mistake?
The arrest counter has been replaced with a screaming purple face counter on this stage, so I imagine I'm supposed to be walking into people to rescue them (without accidentally shooting them). Oh wow, Robo's got a purple lives counter now as well. Incidentally the number next to the battery is my health bar, which continually ticks down when I'm being hit. No invincibility time after taking damage in this.
But which RoboCop sprite is best? Well the giant Amiga sprite is a giant and has the most animation (plus a very shiny head), but I gotta give this to the Atari ST guy. He just looks a little bit more authentic to me, he stomps a bit more naturally. Plus it helps that he's got enough room to lift his arm up into a proper RoboCop pose.
Actually I think I've got just enough space to do this, as long as I don't fall off while trying to step backwards. I might not make the moving platform, it's going kind of fast, but if I screw it up I should be able to use that blue ledge down there as my safety net.
Oh of course the blue block is just part of the background! How could I be so dumb to assume otherwise? Sure it's coloured basically the same as the platform I was just standing on and contrasts strongly against the orange back wall, but that was merely an obvious misdirection.
This bloody game...
Fortunately I do actually have infinite continues so I can jump right back into the level I failed on. In fact they're basically infinite lives, seeing as the only difference between lives and continues is that my score gets wiped when I continue. I'm sure I'll get over that somehow.
SEVERAL LIVES LATER.
I land with the grace of a robotic elephant, immediately spin around to send a single bullet into the hostile on the right, and then rescue the captive simply by stepping over and touching her. I'm just that good.
To be fair, if you scroll back up to the previous screenshot it is possible to see the crusher up in the top right, looking all innocuous on the ceiling.
BUT if you scroll even further up to start of stage 2, you'll see another crusher right there above my head next to the hostage... except that one didn't catch me because I jumped past it. So not only are these things hard to spot, but the game's subconsciously trained me to ignore them!
I did give the level a few more tries after this, but eventually decided that I have better things to do instead.
Two player mode can be turned on and off at the title screen whenever you lose all your lives, so it's possible for player two to jump right into your game, just with one small catch... they have to play it from the start. Yep each player is playing their own basically separate game, on separate levels, alternating each time one loses a life or finishes a stage.
They don't even give player two a different colour! I wanted to play as purple RoboCop.
Oh this isn't after the stage with the cogs, this is actually an ultra secret bonus level hidden in stage one. It's under two unshaded paving stones; if you stand on them and press down you slide into the ground and appear here. The only reason I found the place is because they tell you about it in that manual.
So, a secret level full of nuke huh, that has to be more than enough to push me way past the quota I need for stage one right? Well, kind of. After I collected everything I could reach above ground and all I dared to grab from the sewer, I still only ended up with just 72% nuke at the end of the stage. It was enough to get me through without a trip to the firing range, but it seems like I HAVE to find the secret levels to continue on through the game.
That is so much bullshit.
Actually I just left the title screen on for a bit and it started playing demos from the later levels. I still haven't made it past stage 2.
Nice use of ceiling rockets there, they're always a stylish and ridiculous addition to any platformer level. Also Robo's still destroying nuke I see, so I guess that collect 'em up puzzle aspect isn't going away any time soon. Gotta find the correct route around the level to destroy 'em all!
You know, RoboCop 2 really wasn't the greatest film, but definitely had some impressive visuals at times, especially in the final fight between RoboCop cyborgs Murphy and Cain. It was one of the last live-action blockbusters to use stop-motion with the intent to create realistic looking visual effects (before Jurassic Park came along with its CGI and put an end to all that nonsense), and it definitely did the technique justice. It looked even better than this in fact, if you can believe that. Though that is actually a pretty impressive boss sprite for a NES game I reckon.
I realise that I've only played through one and a half levels (plus a target range bonus stage) and that isn't really enough time to fairly judge a game, but I'm definitely getting the impression that RoboCop 2 is a bit shite.
The game is about jumping, shooting, and collecting flasks with an 'N' on them, and I didn't much enjoy doing any of it. The jumping is terrible due to the character's horizontal inertia, destroying the drugs is a puzzle made needlessly challenging by the way that you can't backtrack (and the fact that half the drugs are hidden in secret levels), and the shooting... well it's just kind of mediocre really. Enemies appeared, I pressed the shoot button and they went away (they never did manage to kill me). It's certainly not as bad as some of the other RoboCops in that regard at least, but it's not exactly thrilling gameplay.
I could've probably gotten some entertainment out of this, even with the awkward jumping and the surprise traps, but the nuke and arrest quota bullshit makes me want to split the cartridge open with a pile driver and reprogram the rom chips with a friendlier personality. Considering that the movies are basically about a man doomed to forever view the world from behind a computer interface, trapped in an awkward simulated semi-indestructible body and forced to endure a video-game like existence of constant shoot outs and action scenes without the comfort of normal human interaction, people sure do fuck up his games a lot.