Custom Robo: Of Guns, Mechs, and Murder

Custom Robo

I say murder because there hasn’t been a game out since 2007. Why did this series stop existing? Why?! Custom Robo had so much to offer to its fans and newcomers! It had a unique playstyle, loads of customization parts, an extremely detailed plot with length and high quality content, three-dimensional loveable characters… The game was so immersive! Considering the main character was you, you really got drawn into the game and felt like a part of the universe. Yes, that’s redundant, but… Immersive! And the multiplayer was great as well! The gameplay was geared in a way that singleplayer and multiplayer had no differences. Not a lot of games could/can say that. Custom Robo, for lack of a better description, was fricken sweet.

I know you’re eager to hear about this built-up awesome sounding game, but I have to say a few words about modern day balancing. It sucks. Why does it suck, author-man? I’ll tell you why, reader-man. Modern day balancing is derived entirely from official tournaments, not the feedback from real gamers like you or me. Meaning, modern day balancing means there are no awesome or gimmicky parts at all. It’s the equivalent of playing Super Smash Brothers Brawl on Final Destination, not having any items turned on, and only using the A button. I’m not exaggerating. Modern balancing is ridiculous, and it makes games boring to play. I respect skill-games, but don’t forsake superweapons just because they might make a few balance-whores whine. Back in the day, overpoweredness had a way of balancing itself out. This tangent has gone on long enough, thus I’ll spare you the list of games that I’ve compiled as part of my argument against overbalancing. The point is, Custom Robo doesn’t have any of that.

Custom Robo

Due to the complex and lengthy nature of the plot, I won’t really be touching on it, but I can cover the combat mechanics to help you familiarize yourself with this slice of fried gaming gold. The combat arenas themselves are rather constrictive, forcing players to fight or be pummeled. The battle initiates by having up to four players aim their Robo Cube cannon in any direction they please, be their purpose to clump up with their ally, or stick close to their enemies to use their Knuckle or Shotgun weapons right off. As soon as the cannon fires, a number (1-6) is randomly displayed on the side of the Robo Cube. It defines how long it will take for your Custom Robo to fully load and become combat capable. Once you’re out, you’re out. The fight is on. If you get shot while you’re in the cube, you get auto-stunned then knocked down, but at least you get out of the cube.

The controls are a little complex for a Gamecube game. A button to jump, B button to fire your main weapons, R button to fire your bomb, L button to fire your pod, Y button to swap lock between enemies, X button makes your Robo do their unique attack charge when on the ground, and the C stick can be used to swap from 1st to 3rd person if you’ve unlocked that feature. You’ll notice that the matches you fight tend to have a whole lot of stuff going on at once, and micromanagement of weapons is an absolute necessity.

The parts in Custom Robo are diverse and many, very befitting of a game with the word Custom in the title. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, there are the main guns, the bombs, and the pods. In the customization screen, there are two more selections to make. Foot parts define how your Robo’s movement will be altered, i.e. jumping slower, dashing faster, increased ground acceleration, etc. One of the more visually definitive aspects is the type of Robo you choose. There are three Robos in each category, each grouped by similarities in their air-dash and X button attack charge. While some like to charge head on, some like to leap back, then jump at opponents. It’s all very subtle and worth checking out. A well-timed, high damage attack charge can turn a match around in an instant.

Custom Robo

Also, the airdash-types can provide colossal boosts to weapon efficiency. For example, a certain type of model has a double horizontal air-dash with an initial delay. These dashes provide invisibility and invincibility while moving, and also make their target destination hard to read. These models are very good with point-blank guns due to their ability to close gaps. I’d say more, but there are too many to cover, even briefly.

Custom Robo is a real masterpiece of a Gamecube game. While many of you may be thinking, “No balancing means overpowered parts,” the game provides you with Illegal Parts that prevent money gain and score ranking in matches. The rest of the parts are gimmicky and strong, and no weapon is without its special trait. So… balance-whores can go die, I guess. That’s all I really have to say about this one. Wish I could have covered the plot more, but this is one of those games where every little thing leads into a spoiler. Lot of enigmatic elements there. I still go back to it for the plot alone, so you should probably find a copy somewhere on the internet and play it.

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