North American box art
|Genre(s)||Role-playing video game|
Robotrek, released as Slapstick (スラップスティック Surappusutikku) in Japan, is a role-playing video game released in 1994. It was published by Enix and developed by Quintet and Ancient for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
As its Japanese name implies, Robotrek was intended as a humorous game. Designed to appeal to a younger audience, Robotrek's main focus is on allowing the player to raise up to three robots which are built from spare parts that may be found, gained through battles, or generated by the player by means of the game's item combination system. Next Generation describes it as a predecessor to the core idea of Pokémon in the sense that the protagonist does not himself fight, but sends out his robots to do so. Like Pokémon, each robot was kept in a ball.
Robotrek has similar gameplay to that of most RPG video games, with the notable exception that the main character is not the combatant; rather, the robots he invents are, making it more similar to Pokémon and Dragon Quest Monsters. The robots are highly customizable, in aspects such as equipment, special attacks, body color and name. The player is allowed to build a maximum of three robots. Unlike many RPGs, the player must invent or create the robots equipment, use "Program Points" to set the robot's attributes (as opposed to these attributes being set by the game), and program special attacks in a macro-like fashion, although certain commands do special effects instead.
Battles are engaged by contact with the enemy on a map. The player usually attacks first, unless the enemy has caught the player's side or from behind. Battling in the game takes place on a battlefield under a variation of the ATB system, in which the player must wait for a gauge to fill up before acting. Only one robot may fight at any time up against at most three enemies; the player can switch between robots at the cost of a turn (like in Pokémon). During the player's turn, none of the enemies will act, and the robot is free to move around the battlefield and attack with one of its weapons. After the robot acts, a gauge appears with the letters E (empty) and F (full) at either end. The gauge's depletion will depend on what action the player used. Until the gauge reaches F, all enemies take turns attacking.
Like most RPG video games, the character gains experience points, called here "Megs of Data". Once enough Megs are obtained, the player gains a level. Also all enemies do not give money by default, but certain enemies do drop it on the map after being defeated. Most enemies will drop some item or low-level equipment, but these can be "Recycled" to make money.
This battling system also uses bonuses. The player can earn extra Megs of Data by defeating enemies within a time limit and using melee attacks. Bonus capsules are also scattered around for the duration of the time limit that can contain items or traps.
Much of the game revolves around creating and combining items for the robots' benefit, and is essential to make higher-level equipment. The player creates and combine items using an invention machine. More items can be created by finding the "Inventor's Friends" series which can only be accessed depending on the character's level. Aiding the combination process are items called Scrap, these allow the player to create basic equipment or make more powerful ones. Weapons can also be strengthened by combining one weapon with the same type (swords for a Sword). A weapon can increase strength by nine times (called levels).
On the planet of Quintenix, where the situation has long been peaceful, a group calling themselves "The Hackers", headed by Blackmore, suddenly starts an uprising against the population by disrupting the peace of the town of Rococo (and elsewhere). The main character (who appears to be nameless) is the son of a famous inventor, Dr. Akihabara, who decides to move to Rococo. The main character soon sets off to find out that The Hackers want Dr. Akihabara for a sinister purpose, as Akihabara refuses an offer to join them. The story unfolds to the point where The Hackers' ultimate goal is the Tetron, a mysterious stone that allows viewers to observe events past and future and travel through time.
The Tetron is later found out to be an invention of the main character's ancestor Rask and one of his friends, Gateau, finds the Tetron's potential as the key to controlling the universe by controlling time. Rask disregards that potential and hides the Tetron in shards throughout Quintenix. Gateau, who — presumedly — formed The Hackers later on, obtains the Tetron and attempts to proceed with his plan for universal domination, starting with Rask's home planet of Choco. It is up to the main character to stop Gateau in his space fortress.
Quintet reported that the game sold 45,000 copies in Japan and 20,000 copies in North America.
GamePro assessed that Robotrek "unsuccessfully attempts to push the envelope of its genre." They described the graphics and audio as especially generic for RPGs, and criticized the inability to send more than one robot into battle at a time and the trial and error involved in creating hybrid weapons and items. However, they did praise the robots' special attacks and the ability to avoid encounters with enemies. Electronic Gaming Monthly's review team scored the game a 7.4 out of 10, with Mike Weigand commenting that "Building your robot is a very cool idea, and there are several areas to explore and people to talk to. I just wish there was a little harsher tone to the whole thing."
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- "Review Crew: Robotrek". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 65. Sendai Publishing. December 1994. p. 38.