Reviewed: December 9, 2011
Released: November 30, 2011
I suppose since the person who reviewed the Xbox version of Voltron: Defender of the Universe came clean in his review I should too. I’ve seen every single version of “Voltron: Defender of the universe” from the original show that this game is derived from, the amazing “Lion Force” to the not nearly as creative “vehicle team” and even the short CG series they attempted back in 1988 called “Voltron: The Third Dimension”. It wasn’t bad for its time but due to the many changes in many characters and even in Voltron itself it never got a chance to really take off. |
With that in mind there is probably going to be a bit of bias in this review. I will say it was interesting to have the chance to have two reviews for the same game but with two very different backgrounds with the story and knowledge of the show. I will be blunt about another thing; this is a fanboy’s game. People that aren’t familiar with Voltron will have a harder time feeling the nostalgia of certain things and get tired of some parts of the gameplay very easily. If you love twin shooters and Voltron this is the game for you! Heck, if you like Voltron get it just for that.
One major thing that stood out for me about this game was the beginning intro because it used the exact same footage that the show used for its intro. I almost expected it to just go straight to the menu and go right into the game but thankfully it gives you a treat, 80s style, by giving you a huge dose of nostalgia right off the bat for the fanboys and some backstory for people new to the series. The game uses authentic clips from the show to progress the story over three chapters each with four levels including one in space showing your journey to the planet the current chapter is based on.
As mentioned earlier Voltron is a twin stick shooter, not exactly what I thought a Voltron game would be, especially for its debut but the more I played it the more I started to think, if not this then what? Another hack and slash? I ended up accepting this was probably the best direction they could have gone with it. It’s a simple concept of moving with the left and aim with the right. The basic idea is to progress through the levels shooting down foot soldiers and enemy vehicles using pounce attacks and your long range attacks. As a fan of the show I knew that each lion had a different set of abilities and I wondered how they would work that in. The answer is of course signature “Special Attacks” based on their element with Black lion being a lightning attack, Yellow a tornado and so on.
I also expected that all the lions had the same stats so that you could just choose your favorite and there wasn’t one better than another, oddly enough they decided to go a different route and feature stats such as Durability, Armor Penetration, Long Range, Short Range Agility and Melee all graded different for each lion. The biggest surprise for me was seeing the Blue Lion as the most balanced instead of the leader, Black Lion. This made for an interesting gameplay, as sometimes certain levels seemed like they could only be cleared with a certain lion.
After you reach the end of the level you go up against a “Robeast” enemy that is basically just a giant bipedal robotic beast, thus the clever name of Robeast. This is when you first have to get their life low enough in your Lion form then assembled the lions to form Voltron. Every time the game initiates the transformation sequence to Voltron a little pop-up action sequences comes up that you can play along with and get bonus points to increase your score. You can miss them all and still form Voltron without any problems. After you finally form the mighty defender of the universe the game kind of gets boring. All you do is choose an attack, make sure to stop the bar in between two lines and you do the attack. Defending is a lot easier with just a simple button press to block attacks, not even button combinations, just one button.
As far as sound and music quality goes I thoroughly enjoyed every single aspect of it. Even though it does have DTS support I can’t say I could see any real reason as to why it should have, It felt wasted almost. The in-game music seemed different at first but as I re-watched a few episodes of the TV show I realized they actually got the old music and updated it with something modern, but I could still pick out the original tune. The Lions of course have mechanical sounds when they run and such just like it should, I do wish I had the ability to make them roar though (silly I know but hey I’m a fan). The pilots also throw out a few lines themselves either when you accomplish a certain goal, find a star-piece or find a megathruster weapon upgrade and a crest that as far as I could tell made you invulnerable for a certain amount of time. Perhaps one of the cleverest sound choices takes place when you pause the game. It says “Voltron will return after these messages” in Peter Cullen’s voice and likewise says “Now back to Voltron” after you un-pause the game. That, ladies and gentleman, is by far the best way to really let us relive our childhoods and get to hear those amazing words whenever we want.
Of course with a game about five robotic lions coming together to form a giant Voltron you would obviously expect there to be a multiplayer mode, and thankfully there is. Unfortunately it’s a bit difficult to get five different people to go out and buy a game that most people have never heard of before, but I can see a few issues that wouldn’t make it too much fun, one of them being the heads down RTS view which can make for some very hard levels when you don’t know where the enemies are even spawning at or where that one doom commander is bombarding you from.
As you can see with all the good, there had to be some bad like the aforementioned camera angles. Along with that there is also the annoying issue of not being able to see the foot soldiers that are right next to you because they look like pixilated little specs of dust. Thankfully, it wasn’t just me, as I found out the Xbox version had the same issue. At $10 on PSN and filled with tons of fanboy catering I’d say Voltron is a must have…if you like Voltron, otherwise it’s just another twin-stick shooter with another skin on top of it. It’s the same basic idea as every other one out there but now with 100% more 80's robot shows!
At a measly 4-5 hours of gameplay it’s just not long enough to please twin-stick shooter fans, and coupled with the poor choice in camera angles and lack of detail on the enemy soldiers I'd have to recommend Voltron: Defender of the Universe only at a discount for someone not familiar with the Voltron series. But honestly, this game is targetings fans of the show, and fans are going to love it. plus it’s all we have and all we are probably going to get for a long time.
Mega-Thrusters are go!