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A disco dungeon crawl: hands-on with Frobot

5:00 PM on 03.15.2010 // Ben Perlee

One thing I really like about the WiiWare service is that for every poorly made title released, there are some really neat products coming not long after. Cave Story, the Bit.Trip series, Super Meat Boy, and Mega Man 10 exemplify that the little-indie-service-that-could can bring games to compete with the likes of Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network.

One such interesting title is a small indie game called Frobot. The title might not draw you in, but the premise would. Imagine an afro'd disco robot chillin', and his five girlfriend robots are suddenly kidnapped, so he'll have to disco through a funky game designed to play like a 2D Zelda title minus the overworld. Yeah, the plot is delightfully insane, but there is certainly some promise here for a fun downloadable title.

Hit the jump for my hands-on.

Frobot (WiiWare, PC, Mac)
Developer: Fugazo Studios
Fugazo Studios
To be released: Summer 2010

Pretty much the premise alone is a seller. You play as the titular robot, Frobot, with a penchant for lady robots and disco. Five of his special girls are kidnapped, and he needs to traverse a bunch of disco-flavored dungeons to bring them back. The visuals are funky, and the music is, too, if a little repetitive. However, the whole game does come across as very "disco" in feeling, and calls into question why more games don't try to play with this '70s flair.

The actual gameplay, as I said, is very much like a 2D Zelda title without the overworld. Each dungeon world is broken up into smaller pieces, usually entailing a couple rooms where you have to fight enemies using the different weapons earned from saved girlfriend robots, or solve physics-based puzzles to move on. These can entail flinging mines and boxes across a room to set off a lever to open a door across the dungeon, or trying to find a way to kill the enemy robots in a room that has a limiter that breaks your pew-pew gun. Honestly, it does feel like a faster-paced Zelda, and I kind of like the general presentation.

Of course, there are bosses, and the one that I saw had me flinging mines over to him across a pit, before remote-detonating them as he pranced by. A few collision issues aside (one that developer Fugazo was taking note of themselves), it was a pretty fun battle. Once I won, I got a chance to see my lady animatronic, where she bestowed the power to boost around -- perfect for dealing with stage hazards.

Other weapons include a standard round shot that will ricochet off of walls, great for snagging enemies from around the corner; a more powerful missile that goes straight ahead; a remote detonation mine; a heart shield to block errant shots; and finally, a cursor-controlled disco ball that will go wherever you want. All of these are just one D-pad press away, and they are different and fun in their applications.

Four-player multiplayer is included as well, and it plays much like those N64 couch titles of old. Each person gets a Frobot, and the goal is to blow each other up with the full unlocked arsenal from the single-player. Yeah, it's a very basic foundation for multiplayer, but with neatly designed levels (shifting platforms and portals to send weapons through, for example), and the general chaos of four players, this could easily be a fun party game between rounds of Bomberman or Smash Bros.

My impression is this: Frobot is a fun WiiWare title certainly worthy a look. There is quite a bit of game here, with 25 individual levels and about 8 hours of gameplay. For fans of Zelda titles, this should be a great way to pass the time until Nintendo comes out with their next adventure. And of course, the addition of PC and Mac support means that those without a Wii can make sure to get in on the fun as well.

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Ben Perlee,
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