Robotrek is a role-playing game that was released on October 1, 1994 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Developed by Quintet and Ancient, and published by Enix, Robotrek was fairly well-received, garnering mid-to-high scores from the majority of publications. The game follows a young, unnamed inventor in his quest for knowledge, as well as rescuing his father from a mysterious organization known as the Hackers.
The gameplay in Robotrek is centered around the ability to create, customize, and battle robots. The unnamed player character is first presented with the option to build a robot in the hometown of Rococo, with each additional robot (up to three) costing a set amount more than the previous robot. These robots are built and customized in R&D stations scattered around the game world. Robots can also be customized upon leveling up, but creation can only occur at R&D stations.
Upon creation, robots are allotted a certain amount of energy points, which can be freely distributed into five stats: health, strength, defense, charge (the speed at which attacking ability is recharged), and speed. Even after allotting these points, they can be freely moved at any time, and subsequently distributed into another statistic. Additionally, robots’ color is also customizable, with sliders for red, green, and blue (and any mixture therein).
The last part of customizability involves “programming” special attacks that the robots can unleash during battle. Every special attack in the game is available from the outset, the player merely has to know the combination of buttons to program it. In order to program a move, the player inputs the right trigger, left trigger, and X button in a particular order. For example, the right trigger three times will be a triple sword hit.
The battle system is somewhat similar to the Active Time Battle system used in many Final Fantasy games. Battles take place on a three plane field, where the player and enemies can move up and down into each row. After activating a battle, there are two time-based actions that occur. The player is given a time limit, and if this limit is met then extra experience is awarded. Secondly, there are treasure chests scattered in the battle field, which, when broken by specific weapons, award items.
Each weapon (up to three can be equipped simultaneously) is mapped to a separate button. The left trigger controls a long range weapon (typically a shot or laser), the right trigger controls the melee weapon (typically a sword, blade, axe, etc.), and the X button controls the bomb (if equipped, as stat boosting packs can be equipped here instead). Robots are also able to Run programs, use items, change which robot is active, or escape the battle. Each action takes a certain amount of energy, and as energy is recharging, enemies are able to attack. The speed at which energy recharges is controlled by the charge stat.
The overworld is separated into two different parts; the main overworld, which is akin to the level selection from Super Mario Bros. 3, and then more specific areas such as towns or caves (each dot on the map leads to an area). In the more specific areas, the player is able to use key items, typically for a story driven purpose (such as a drill which can destroy rocks in caves, or glasses which allow the player to see invisible enemies and traps).
Books are an integral part of learning new building parts. The player is able to craft and combine items within the R&D stations. Many “crafting recipes” are gained from reading books, known in the context of the game as “Inventor’s Friends.” Each book has a level requirement, and some can even be missed entirely. Crafting items does cost money, whereas combining items does not. Combining items can also be used to level up weapons. For example, combining two Sword 4s will result in a Sword 4 at level 2. These levels go up to nine.
Robotrek follows an unnamed protagonist on his quest to become a more skilled inventor. The game begins with the boy’s father, Akihabara, giving him The Robot Book. After exploring for some brief time, and building the first robot, the game’s plot is set up. Upon returning to the main town, Rococo, all of the children have gone missing. They have, apparently, gone to search for the base of a mysterious and malevolent group known as “The Hackers.”
Upon reaching the base of the Hackers, all of the children are saved. Exploring deeper into the base, the player finds Kotetsu, an amateur thief, who has also been captured by the Hackers. Fighting even deeper, the boss of this particular base is Meta Crab, who was transformed into a giant crab in order to search the cave for a mysterious element known as Tetron, supposedly hidden within the cave.
The player discovers that there are three pieces of Tetron hidden in the world of Quintenix. Collecting all three will grant the person ultimate power. The player tracks one down to a mansion in the Forest of Illusion. Here, the player meets Mint, a reporter who appears sporadically throughout the remainder of the game.
The third piece of Tetron is tracked down to an island to the south. Specifically, the volcano on the aforementioned island. A Hacker base is stationed inside of the volcano, led by Dr. Einst, a previously friendly non-playable character who is enslaving the people of Rococo and transforming those who disobey him into mice. After finally defeating Dr. Einst, the player meets Napoleon, a mysterious robot from another planet who helps the player escape from the base.
After a Hacker steals all three pieces of Tetron from the player, it is decided that it is time to both rescue Akihabara from his imprisonment and to recover the stolen Tetron. The Hacker Base is located in Snow Mountain, where the player manages to successfully rescue Akihabara. However, the base suddenly explodes, and the player is launched into the past.
In the past, the player finds Napoleon’s ship. It is revealed that he actually came from another planet (the planet of Choco), along with Cookie, Rask, and Gateau. Gateau is revealed to be a traitor, and ends up escaping along with the Tetron. This is when the player wakes up, revealing that this blast from the past was actually a dream.
Back in the present, the player is contacted by Tira, a princess from the planet Choco. Hackers are attacking the planet, and the player is needed to help fight back. Gateau is here as well, but he is feigning amnesia. He kidnaps the princess and takes all of the Tetron, and leaves to the space fortress of the Hackers. After a lengthy exploration of the fortress, the player finds Gateau and fights him in the final battle, reconciling all of the damage caused by the Tetron.
- The original Japanese title for this game was Slap Stick. As its name and many of the characters names in the game imply, it was meant to be silly and to parody common tropes in RPGs of the time.
- The sales of this game in America leveled out at around 20,000. The developers, Quintet, mentioned at the time that the name being so similar to the popular anime “Robotech” was probably a bad localization choice.