Attack of the Pokeclones: Robotrek.
(AfroGamers.com) One of my favorite kind of RPGs are the Pokemon clones. Games that put the players in some sort of trainer or trainer-adjacent role, tasks you with collecting or catching them all, and training them for battle. It’s a simple formula that works as a gameplay mechanic. Now, if it works in making a rewarding and enjoyable game is an entirely different story.
A game that fits both but is also a little more involved is Robotrek from 1994 on the Super Nintendo. Another Enix RPG? Yes, reader. As mentioned before, Enix like Square was an RPG machine in the 1990s. The odd thing is that outside of Dragon Quest, Enix was like “Nah” on sequels to games for the most part. Of course, that could be done to most of those non-DQ RPGs were wildly hit or miss while DQ and its spin-offs were hits each time.
This is another Enix game where the player has to prevent either the destruction or the subjugation of a planet from an ancient machine with infinite power. This time, the player is the son of an world-renown inventor in a small town and has a lot of potential himself. A series of events leads to your character creating his own robots to battle against the Hackers.
This is a nefarious group out to push the will of Gateau, an older inventor who was the friend of your character’s relative. This relative, Rask, created the machine but had no intent on using it for evil deeds. Gateau was like “F*** that, I’m using this for a great cause: myself.” Now if parts of this seem familiar, it should. The main character is basically Ash, the Hackers were proto-Team Rocket, and Gateau is pretty much Giovanni. All you’re really missing is a rival that pops up before you save your game but you manage to squeak out a win anyways. Yes, I’m talking about that spiky-haired sucker Gary Oaks.
A Flawed Ancestor
While Robotrek is the blueprint, there are flaws here. The invention mechanic can be involved. You’d think that you have a pretty righteous robot to fight with but as you continue through the game, you grow as an inventor and can do more. This means that robot you created at a certain point will be obsolete. Which is fitting, I mean it is Pokemon with a tech slant. Scrap that robot and build something better.
The combat system was solid but the turn-based mechanic of Pokemon and most Pokeclones after it works better. Robotrek uses an active time battle or ATB approach which has the wait bar that determines when you can attack. This is very much a console RPG of the period. If you played the older Final Fantasy games, this won’t be a problem. You might even welcome it. I felt it didn’t go with the game considering the subgenre.
There have been complaints about the graphics and I’ll say this isn’t Paladin’s Quest, Phantasy Star, or Secret of the Stars. The game is between those and Chrono Trigger graphics-wise. Its leans closer to acceptable than acceptable-because-this-game-is-fun.
Anyway, this game is basically Pokemon before Pokemon. Of course, several other games would take the formula, build upon it, and make it better such as the trifecta of Pokemon, Monster Rancher, and Dragon Quest Monsters. Yes, I purposely left Digimon out of that list. The funny thing about this game is that if it was re-released today or even last decade, it would be considered a knock off of Pokemon when it is actually where all this stuff began.
Staff Writer; M. Swift
This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.