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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Retro Review: Custom Robo Arena (DS)

Imagine, if you would, a world in the not-too distant future. A world in which the major sport everyone follows isn't football. Or basketball. Or any kind of ball at all. In fact, the most popular sport in this imagined world is pitting tiny robots, ranging anywhere from 6-12 inches tall, against each other in battles to the death. Now imagine if this incredible sport was a game.

Well it is.

Custom Robo Arena, for the Nintendo DS, is the most recent title to hit North America. It's also only the 2nd title in this series to arrive in North America. Developed by NOISE and Nintendo, the main focus of the game is to go around the new town you've arrived in, attend school, and make friends. Oh, and of course, battle with said friends.
As the name suggests, the main draw of Custom Robo is it's, well, customization factor. You take one of many small Gundam-esque robots, and supply it with a set of weaponry. From Gattling Guns to Sniper Rifles, Bombs to Pods, there are many varieties of parts for different approaches to gameplay. Wanna stay far away from your enemy? Use a Long-Range gun and some defensive Pods to keep them at bay. Wanna get up close and personal? Use the Knuckle Gun and some other close-range firepower to make sure they stay down.

(Image courtesy of GameSpy)

As good as the single-player campaign is, there are times where the opposing A.I. will make you wanna scream. This goes double when trying to complete the game's many challenges. These challenges are typically in sets of 20, and might involve fighting on a stage with insta-kill acid, or only using certain parts to fight your opponent.

The multiplayer is where this game gets really fun. There's nothing quite like going head-to-head against a buddy, to see who has better robo-battle prowess. And there's also nothing like humiliating your opponent by using a SoulBoost (this game's version of a super move), or by using the weakest robo in the game to beat your opponent.


Story: 8/10

The story in Custom Robo Arena is good, but is extremely similar to that of it's GameCube cousin. Newbie arrives in town, has a gift for Custom Robo, finds out about a secret evil organization, etc. Despite this, I greatly enjoyed playing through the story mode, even for a second or even third playthrough.

Sound: 8/10

The sound is pretty good in this game. For the DS, the sound effects and music are pretty cool. Somewhat cartoony explosion and gunshot sounds, mixed in with fast-paced rock music, gives the game the feel that robo battles aren't a matter of saving the world. Rather, it's just for fun.

Graphics: 10/10

Truth be told, this was the first game I bought for my newly-acquired DS Lite back in 2008. I was intruiged by the game, and when I first got it, I was amazed at how smooth everything looked. Looking at it now, the graphics may seem a bit sharp to some, but I feel that the graphics hold up really well today. They're not hyper-realistic, which helps me to remember that I'm part of a humorous battle-to-the-death between robots no bigger than my desk lamp.

Overall: 9/10
(Not an Average)

Custom Robo Arena is definitely not a game for everybody. It can be frustrating at times to win battles, and sometimes it's vague what you have to do to advance the story, especially if you don't play it consecutively. But if you're able to push past all of that, you'll find an awesome and rewarding experience awaiting you.