RoboCop

Drawing from the movie’s memorable villains and characters, RoboCop for the NES could have been one of the better action games of its time. Unfortunately, some very poor design choices prevent this game from being as successful as the arcade port and condemn it to be just another average NES title.

In 1987, Orion Pictures released RoboCop, Paul Verhoeven’s dystopic masterpiece that weaves in strong themes of individual worth and identity. Of course, at the time of the movie’s release, much of this was lost on me. I was thirteen, and I wanted to see the movie because it had a cool-looking cyborg. Yeah, I was all about the cyborgs. Now, I am able to appreciate all that Paul Verhoeven was attempting to capture in that movie, and I count it among my top ten movies of all time.

Data East soon released an arcade game based on RoboCop, and the few times I came across the machine, I plunked all the quarters I had into it. I never progressed very far (I swear, that game was made to siphon all your change from you), but I reveled in the ability to be RoboCop, if just for a few minutes. Once I found out that RoboCop was going to come to the NES, I was thrilled. It was a game I had to own, and I anxiously waited for its release.

And so I waited. And I waited. And I waited. For some reason, Data East kept delaying the release of this game. But, if they were taking all this extra time to tweak it, the end product had to be . . . well, awesome, right?

I believe I got the game soon after it was released, and . . . I was underwhelmed. For one, the RoboCop sprite looked OK in the game, but why was he green? They used blue in the intro and they used blue for his indicators, so why is the actual sprite green? That may seem like a minor gripe, but it just scratches the surface of how poorly this game captured the movie. For example, most of the enemies in the game have nothing to do with the movie. Robocop is attacked by dogs, guys on motorcycles, guys in purple who like to jump kick . . . the list goes on. Why they didn’t choose more of the actual enemies from the movie (how about Nash and Emil?) is beyond me. Sure, the arcade game had some of these same enemies, so if I enjoyed it, how can I pan this game for doing some of the same things? Well, the arcade game got some things right, such as RoboCop’s look and a good rendition of the theme composed by Basil Poledouris. One of the big things the arcade game didn’t have was a power indicator. Since RoboCop has an energy gauge, there was no need to introduce another gauge in the NES version that depletes as time passes. It was an ill-conceived notion that makes the last level, in particular, quite a chore to play through.

Drawing from the movie’s memorable villains and characters, RoboCop for the NES could have been one of the better action games of its time. Unfortunately, some very poor design choices prevent this game from being as successful as the arcade port and condemn it to be just another average NES title.

Not recommended

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