Pros:Sold graphics performance, rich plotline, infinite replayability
Cons:Polishing your robot.
The Bottom Line: Fun for young and old alike, Custom Robo Arena is a well rounded RPG. Best of 2007 YTD!
Some games grow on you. You play them hoping to finish in a few hours but find yourself obsessed thirty hours later. Custom Robo Arena DS is a stellar example of this phenomenon. The game seamlessly ties your advancement through Story mode with your online multiplaying experience. When you read the marketing materials for this game, you dismiss the claims of Thousands of Combinations as being false. Yet the developers created a sold interface and try it before you buy it features that make you completely forget how complex this game really is.
One question everyone asks should be answered right away, NO. The game has no bugs. I am a professional software developer; my task is to find bugs in code and fix them. I battled for hours trying to find a bug
incredibly none were found. My reviewing task as result became much easier.
Custom Robo was released in 2000 for the Nintendo 64 in Japan. Never released in America this game managed to get strong ratings from several people who managed to get a copy. The screenshots of this version look like the DS version.
Custom Robo V2 was released in 2002 for the Nintendo 64 in Japan.
Custom Robo GX was released July 26, 2002 on the Gameboy Advance in Japan. Again this never came stateside either.
Custom Robo was released in 2004 on the Gamecube in the US.
If you need any clue how much a game can offer, pick up the box and judge how heavy it is. Custom Robo Arena delivers with a hefty fifty page, all English, manual. Nearly every feature of the game is covered including footnotes to pages that offer additional detail. When you start the game, an action packed set of demo sequences gives you a glimpse into the upcoming battles and robo configurations possible.
Story mode is where you will find, purchase and are given parts for your robo. Every part you aquire can be then be used in multiplayer gaming. The game does a good job of teaching you new moves as well. You will have to play with several robo configurations to win. How is all this taught? In class! Every few days the storyline forces you to take a twenty question quiz about the dialogue you have had with other characters. Story mode is also loaded with several side quests to keep you busy, do not forget to explore the map every game day. A lot of time was spent just creating the plot line for this game. My best guess so far is that the game will take a focused game 30 hours to complete.
Battling is the heart of this game. You challenge an opponent and are sent to a garage where you can examine the opponents configuration and pick a selection of parts to battle your foe. After you robot is ready, you are taken to the arena where both robots are fired out of a canon to random locations on the map. The maps are relatively small, a great feature because it keeps the action level up. Each map in the game offers a different set of strategies for winning. Some maps have tall walls which require the player to jump more often to fire on their opponent. While other maps have tall columns which dictate more running to acquire a target since you cannot jump over the obstacles. After you win, a summary screen appears rating your gameplay and giving points for your score.
How much customization is possible? Thirteen pages of body types. Twelve pages of guns sorted by firing distance: low, midrange and short range. Eight pages of bombs. Nine pages of pods and three pages of leg types.
Fortunately the touchscreen is scarcely used in this game. In-game navigation is done with the keypad controls. Soulboost, overdrive mode for the robot in battles, requires you to touch a flashing logo on the touchscreen to activate it. However, you could win any battle without soulboost. The only reason I had to use it was to polish the robot. Polishing is a moronic chore that must be done after most story battles to clean off parts. According the NPCs in the game, you mush polish your robo to keep it from overheating. Online battles do not require polishing.
Two modes can be used: Nintendo Wifi connection and DS to DS gaming. Both modes are simple to use and configure, I never had any trouble with either mode.
Wifi mode turns Custom Robo Arena into an infinitely replayable experience on the Nintendo DS. You can use any parts aquired during story mode. All gameplay statistics are sorted by each opposition player. Opposition players can be sorted by play class, any class, rivals and friends. Yes, you can enter a friend code and start a Wifi battle with them over the internet.
I use a Linksys WRT54G router for my gaming. After setting the basic transmission rate to 1-2 mbs my DS automatically set itself up and within two minutes I was playing my first Wifi game. I found that my router to DS range was 45 feet. Even with an eight computer wireless network, I never noticed any lag in gameplay. You will compete one on one in a best of three match tournament with every internet player. Before each match you are given the chance to configure your robot parts. The first arena is chosen randomly , with the loser given the option to pick their arena for the next match.
My only complaint about Wifi gaming is the uneven player assignment. My class was Journeyman in the beginning; I only had a few parts to choose from as well. Yet, I was often paired with an opponent of King level several times when using the the best match option of finding rivals. I used a MkII robot body against this rival for two battles, they never won by more than 150 hit points, but beat me nonetheless. Why not quit against such a foe? Because if you resign the battle, a three loss penalty is tallied onto your record! I also found that if you break your Wifi connection in a battle, the penalty is added as well.
Vibrant 2D game maps and solid 3D graphics are awaiting you. Among my vast lineup of games (Final Fantasy, Metroid Pinball, Steel Horizon, Electroplankton, Freedom Wings and others), the 3D graphics seen during battle mode are the best I have seen so far on the DS. The primary reason for this is the control over camera angles and the use of customizable dioramas. Secondary to this is the over two dozen fighting arenas available in the game. The arenas even feature hazards such as fire, acid and water that inflict damage on your robo as you encounter them in battle.
A high spirited punk rock style background soundtrack is used in this game. Battle sounds were implemented fairly and when mixed with the soundtrack make the game all the more enjoyable. I rarely listen to sound on my DS, though.
The rumble pack is only used during battles, but the feedback it provides is invaluable. For example, when battling, every time you fire a weapon the pack rumbles. Rumbling is the best way to know your robot fired. If you did not feel the rumble, you can quickly readjust your game plan and fire another weapon.
You can replay this game forever because each battle brings a new perspective because of the robo cannon that fires the two opponents randomly into the arena. Each battle is rated on three categories: Time, Combo and Health. Get a high rank in each category and receive more cash. Additionally, the game has an arcade mode that pits you against a series of robo players. You must battle for the best score in each match and the scores are stored for later comparison. Finally, with the online community taking off, expect the challenge from online players to be a constant drive to replay this game.
Gamespots forums have been on fire discussing this game. People are creating custom teams and holding tournaments against others. Join in here: http://www.gamespot.com/ds/action/customrobo/forum.html
The official gamesite is: http://customrobo.com
Wow, thats all I should have said about Custom Robo Arena. They put a good storyline into a fully customizable robotic fighting game. The story of this game is aimed at children, but the gameplay is very challenging. My DS now sits in Wifi mode next to the TV. Nothing beats a long commercial break like a quick 5 minute online game! Imagine my surprise when I compiled a 10-10 online record through my coffee table exploits. What are you waiting for?
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