If there’s one combination that was made in heaven it’s robots and video games. I’d wager that over the years there have been more video games that feature robots than movies and books combined. With so many robots to choose from, some are bound to be left out. Feel free to add your favorites in the comments! Let’s begin with the first of three parts – the Honorable Mentions…
The Honorable Mentions
#30 – Metal Wolf (Metal Wolf Chaos, XBOX)
This is quite simply one of the most hilariously-patriotic video games ever made. You play as the President of the United States of America, only with a twist: he pilots a giant mecha called Metal Wolf. The evil Vice President has staged a coup-d’etat and it’s up to you to restore peace and democracy as you rampage across the nation fighting traitorous anti-government revolutionaries. Amazingly, this classic XBOX action game was never released in America, probably because developer From Software didn’t want to cause an international incident. On the contrary, I think it would have been a popular oddity.
#29 – Steel Battalion (Steel Battallion, XBOX)
Capcom’s unique mecha simulation game came bundled with a monstrous twin-stick controller with around 40 buttons, switches, and knobs, all in the service of accurately emulating the control deck of a giant robot. The game is presented from within the cockpit, and if you don’t hit the EJECT button before being blown to pieces, it’s perma-death: the game erases your save data. So have some respect and be sure to take things seriously, because after all you spent more than a hundred bucks for the game and controller. Due to its price tag and rarity, Steel Battalion has become a real collector’s item.
#28 – Robot party member (SaGa 2 / Final Fantasy Legend 2, GameBoy, DS)
Square-Enix’s SaGa 2 (aka Final Fantasy Legend 2), one of the best portable RPGs ever made, allows you to include robots in your party of characters. The robots not only have a stylish look, but they can equip tons of armor and weapons, which boosts their stats. I always make sure to bring at least one robot in my party, as they’re a valuable and powerful ally in your quest to find the 70-odd pieces of Magi scattered around the game’s many worlds. Plus, there’s a new remake coming to the Nintendo DS which looks fantastic, so keep an eye out for it.
#27 – Marina (Mischief Makers, N64)
Shake, Shake. Marina Liteyears is a robotic maid and the star of Mischief Makers, which is all about grabbing objects and enemies and shaking them. She also had a rocket boost that could help out when the game’s platforming sections got hectic. Like many of Treasure’s games, Mischief Makers is unique, challenging, and has plenty to offer hardcore gaming enthusiasts with all sorts of crazy boss encounters. Check it out if it ever comes to the Wii’s Virtual Console.
#26 – Worker/Construct 8 (Final Fantasy Tactics, PS1, PSP)
Final Fantasy Tactics is a turn-based strategy game set in the medieval world of Ivalice, considered by many to be the greatest example of the genre. This unusual character gets inadvertently summoned from the future and joins your party. He’s a secret that you only get late in the game, but he’s a welcome addition and has an awesome projectile attack that keeps him out of harm’s way. I commonly enlist his help in the game’s final battles.
#25 – Robbit (Jumping Flash, PS1)
Robbit the Rabbit-shaped robot from Exact’s Jumping Flash has twin laser cannons and can jump hundreds of feet into the air. It was the first true 3d platformer and one of the most inventive game series on the original PlayStation. A short, but sweet classic that is now available as a downloadable game for the PS3. The sequel is even better, and a third game (not made by the original developer Exact) was also released in Europe (which I haven’t played).
#24 – OKEs (Carnage Heart, PS1, PSP)
One of the most interesting examples of robot-related game design was ArtDink’s unusual mecha combat sim, Carnage Heart. Rather than taking direct control of your OKE (Over-kill Engine), you first had to program it with the in-game GUI using an icon-based flow chart. Before sending it into battle you could test out your program to see it working, which is good because they can get extremely complicated, and you don’t want a programming bug to smash your mecha into walls until it blows up.
#23 – Omega Boost (Omega Boost, PS1)
This rail-shooter from Polyphony (the makers of Gran Turismo) features some of the best graphics on the PS1. It’s the only non-racing game developed by the company, is hard as nails, and ultimately not as good as its contemporaries (Panzer Dragoon & Star Fox). It gets points for its time-traveling, Macross-inspired mech design, heavy metal music video intro, and fantastic graphics.
#22 – Probotector (Probotector/Contra, NES, SNES, GameBoy, Mega Drive)
These awesome robots replaced the super cheesy Schwarzenegger/Rambo wannabe heroes when Konami’s classic shoot-em-up Contra was released in Europe. It may just be a simple sprite swap, but ask yourself: which would you rather play as, a stock muscle-headed meatbag or a heavily armored cyborg? Yeah, I thought so. But it seems these cyborgs aren’t really series canon, so they’re relegated to the Honorable Mentions.
#21 – M308 Gunner (Metal Storm, NES)
This classic action platformer from IREM, the makers of R-Type, is one of the long lost classics from the 8-bit NES days. The game play is tight and responsive, and features gravity defying powers at the push of a button, similar to some of the stages in Super Mario Galaxy (just 17 years earlier!). I hope it makes it to the Virtual Console but what I really want is a sequel. Are you listening, IREM?
That wraps up this week’s feature, but be sure to check back
next week as we continue our countdown with the 10 Runner Ups!
If you’d like to keep abreast of the latest robot-related video games,
head over to our friends at Mecha Damashii.