Review: Mini Robot Wars

Review: Mini Robot Wars
3.5

Platforms:

PC

Game Name:

Mini Robot Wars

Publisher(s):

Picsoft Studio

Developer(s):

Picsoft Studio

Genre(s):

Casual, Strategy

Release Date:

July 9, 2011

Developer Summary:

Collect energy, build little robots, and help them defend the Green Planet in Mini Robot Wars, a fun and exciting Arcade game! Green Planet is the beautiful home of a mechanical life known as the Mini Robots. Suddenly, a ruthless army, known only as The Machines, attack and begin an invasion! Use your wit and tactics to overcome the obstacles and save the gorgeous Green Planet!

What We Think:

In 1984, when I was but a wee lad, I saw the movie “Ghostbusters”, and thought that it was perhaps the finest piece of cinema ever made. I particularly liked the soundtrack. It reminded me of something.

Turns out, it reminded me of a Huey Lewis and the News song, “I Want a New Drug”, back when you could say that you’d seen a video on MTV. I like both songs in a nostalgic way, but I often wonder if one is inherently superior because it obviously, shall we say, inspired the other?

Which brings us to Mini Robot Wars.

mini-robot-wars_screenshot_1

MRW is a tower defense game from Picsoft Studios, which pits a group of friendly robots against a group of hostile robots. The goal is to prevent the hostile robots from reaching the edge of the screen by using the unique powers of the various robots at your disposal. Common to the genre, some robots produce energy which you use to purchase other robots to defend against enemies. The challenge is to balance resource production with investment in defense–the “guns or butter” conundrum in video game form.

Mini Robot Wars looks great, with bright, cartoonish characters that wouldn’t be amiss in a Mario game. Menus are simple and self-explanatory, allowing you to get into the game quickly. Following the current trend, there are achievements which add an extra sense of accomplishment without getting in the way.

There are also minigames and a shop where you can buy upgrades using spare parts dropped by enemies during the course of the game, both of which add some depth and play time to what would otherwise be a fairly short game.

mini-robot-wars_screenshot_3

Brevity and ease aren’t really drawbacks in a casual game, which is what MRW seems to be. It’s easy to learn, kid-friendly, and offers only enough challenge to keep you interested. In fact, you’ll find it very, very easy if you’ve played another game: Plants versus Zombies. And therein lies the problem.

Mini Robot Wars is so close in gameplay and character design that, having played Plants versus Zombies, I had no problem beating MRW perfectly the first time through. The similarities are so striking that I even got the same kind of robot (one that shoots a freezing bullet) at about the same point in the game as its counterpart in PvZ.

mini-robot-wars_screenshot_2

There is a “Robopedia” with biographies of the robots which so closely resemble those of Plants versus Zombies that one assumes Picsoft ran through “Ctrl”, “c”, and “v” keys fairly often during development. Other than swapping robots for plants and zombies, the only real difference between the two games is perspective: MRW’s maps are side-views of terrain, where PvZ’s are bird’s eye views of flat land. Strategically they behave the same.

Featured at the same price point as Plants versus Zombies, it’s difficult to recommend Mini Robot Wars over its, shall we say, spiritual predecessor. Both games are so similar that it boils down to your sense of humor, your feelings regarding robots, plants, and zombies, and whether you already own PvZ on an iPhone or iPad. MRW’s graphics are a little crisper, and the style of art is a little more cartoonish, but for all intents and purposes, if you’ve played one, you’ve played the other.

What is one to make of Mini Robot Wars? On a certain level, it’s disappointing to see a game that is so well made, but, at the same time, so blatantly imitative. MRW is genuinely enjoyable, and it looks like considerable effort when into its development. But, if you recreate the Mona Lisa as a blonde, is it still a great work of art?

Get Mini Robot Wars at Pic-Soft

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

billwhorton

is a freelance writer who loves horror, beer and old movies. When he’s not trying to figure out how to get paid for being awesome, or what his dogs are chewing on, he’s playing one of the ten video games he’s got in rotation.

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