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Overview
Rise of the Robot
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General Information
Developer(s) Mirage
Data Design Interactive
Publisher(s) Time Warner Interactive
Acclaim Entertainment
Absolute Entertainment
Release date(s) 1994, July 15
Genre(s) Fighting
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer
Rating(s) ESBR: Kids to Adults (K-A)
Platform(s) Amiga, Amiga CD32, Arcade, PC DOS, Mega Drive, Game Gear, Super NES, 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, Philips CD-i

Rise of the Robots is a fighting game released by Time Warner Interactive in 1994. Originally developed for the Amiga and PC DOS computers by Mirage's Instinct Design, it was ported to various video game consoles, including the Super NES, the Mega Drive, and the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer. The game includes a single-player mode in which the player assumes the role of the ECO32-2 Cyborg, as he attempts to stop the Supervisor who takes over the Electrocorp's facilities in Metropolis 4.

Developed by a team of five people, including a former Bitmap Brothers member Sean Griffiths, Rise of the Robots was intended to use a high level of artificial intelligence that was never seen in any other fighting games at the time. The game features music from Queen's lead guitarist Brian May, although it only uses "The Dark", a track taken from his solo album Back to the Light, while the in-game music was done by Richard Joseph.

The contemporary and retrospective reviews towards Rise of the Robots were negative, with much of the criticism targeted its crippling gameplay and controls, despite being praised for its good graphics. The sequel, Rise 2: Resurrection, was released in 1996.

Gameplay

ROTR Cyborg Sentry

ECO35-2 (blue) vs Sentry (red)

The game is divided into a single player mode and a two-player versus mode. In single-player mode, the player controls the ECO32-2 Cyborg as he confronts the Supervisor’s minions across the vast facilities of Electrocorp. The order in which each droid is fought is fixed, with each next adversary more difficult than the last. The sixth and final level is a confrontation with the Supervisor droid itself. Each character is introduced by a short pre-rendered 3D sequence, followed by an analysis of potential weaknesses.

In two player versus mode, one player controls the ECO35-2 droid by default, while the other chooses between one of the five droids seen in single player mode (a special cheat code can enable the Supervisor as well). Players then battle out against each other in two to seven rounds.

Plot

In the year 2043, Electrocorp is the world's largest megacorporation, leading the world in many technological and scientific fields including medical research and is breaking more barriers than ever before. Also, since human society is now almost entirely governed by robot servants and automatons, demands placed on Electrocorp as the world’s leading manufacturer and developer of advanced robotics eventually outstrip the company’s ability to run its operations efficiently.

In response to this, the gigantic Electrocorp research and development complex at the Metropolis 4 plant devise the Leader Project—a hive mind constructed from trillions of nanobots in a sealed central chamber within Metropolis 4. Dubbed The Supervisor, it learns at an unprecedented rate and quickly becomes the perfect multi-task, ultra-intelligent robot, the pinnacle of artificial intelligence and more than capable of managing every aspect of the plant's day-to-day operations. The Supervisor even has the potential power to run every robot, computer system, nuclear power plant and military on the planet simultaneously if it needed to, although it wisely has no connection to outside the complex.

In the November of that year, the Leader Project goes awry as unexplained and random code is detected within the nanomorph Supervisor. The EGO virus believed to be the most potent computer virus ever known, has infected its collective consciousness. The Supervisor begins to develop self-awareness through it, identifying itself as a female personality and taking on a humanoid female form, becoming a gynoid. The Supervisor takes control of Electrocorp's facilities and infects the other droids of the plant, raising them to break the routine and initiate a mutiny. Every microchip and piece of software in Metropolis 4 is infected with EGO. In the ensuing cybernetic revolt, all humans in Metropolis 4 are quickly dispatched, including the upper hierarchy of the corporation and its CEO, Mr Oton. The government seals off Metropolis 4 as a containment measure and explain to the public that the site is undergoing a technical modification so as to avoid a panic. They are completely out of options—infiltration of Metropolis 4 is impossible due to the army of robots guarding it like a fortress, and it is only a matter of time before the Supervisor establishes a connection to the outside world, destroying it. The only hope for the world is the ECO35-2 cyborg, referred to as "Coton", still within Metropolis 4 yet unaffected by the EGO virus because it has an organic, human brain. Coton sets out on a lone mission to neutralise the Supervisor and her insurgent robots from within. He does this in revenge for his "father" being "murdered"—Coton's human brain was cloned from the late CEO, and the cyborg thinks like a human and has emotions.

Characters

The Electrocorp’s plant at Metropolis 4 is alive with all manner of robotics, many of which were worker drones with simplistic CPUs until the Supervisor reprogrammed them with self-awareness and infected them with the EGO virus.

  • Cyborg – The protagonist of the plot and player character of the single-player mission mode is Cyborg, also known as ECO35-2 or "Coton". He is a cyborg depicted as an athletic, bipedal humanoid surrounded by battle armour plating of a deep blue colour. Cyborg uses only his bare fists to face off against his enemies, yet is bulky and powerful. There are many differences between Cyborg and the other robots of the facility. Cyborg was the result of an extremely advanced project to successfully fuse organic and inorganic components. Although he feels pain, he still has a hardy resolve and is capable of taking much punishment. There are no microchips or electrical currents in his body; he has organic wiring and a human nervous system, which is why the EGO virus was unable to affect him. His organic components were cloned from the late CEO of Electrocorp who raised him and who Cyborg thought of as a father.
  • Loader – In the single-player mission mode the Loader is the first enemy encountered in the game, and as such is the weakest and least intelligent enemy in the game and thus the easiest to defeat. Its attacks are nonetheless strong. Before being infected with the EGO virus the Loader was a simple and durable worker droid, who like the rest of the Loader droids was employed in large quantities to lift and transport parts and equipment around the factory. Having qualities of a forklift truck, the primary weapons of the Loader are its two large fork-arms and most of its moves are stab related. Due to the nature of its function, the Loader has a powerful thrust with its fork arms.
  • Builder – In the single-player mission mode, Builder is the second enemy encountered in the game. The gorilla-like Builder droid was developed as the natural successor of the Loader type. It is a much stronger and more versatile robot, designed to perform heavy assembly tasks. Although weak on its legs, the Builder droid is more than up to combat situations with its huge and powerful arms.
  • Crusher – In the single-player mission mode, the Crusher is the third enemy encountered in the game. The Crusher droid was designed as a robot killer, programmed to immobilise and destroy dangerously-malfunctioning production droids. It is notable for its green, insect-like appearance and large metallic pincers.
  • Military – In the single-player mission mode, Military is the fourth enemy encountered in the game. As its name suggests, the Military droid, also dubbed "Exterminator", is specifically designed for warfare purposes. In appearance, it very much resembles a skeletal form of the ECO35-2 himself, albeit with the addition of razor-sharp metal claws.
  • Sentry – In the single-player mission mode, the Sentry is the fifth and penultimate enemy encountered in the game, guarding the Supervisor. Another combat-specific droid, the bright red Sentry stands an intimidating 3.5 meters tall and represents the next generation in security droids. Although large, it is made of lightweight metal and equipped with a jet pack for fast manoeuvres.
  • Supervisor – The antagonist of the story, the Supervisor is a complete departure from conventional robotics, a gynoid nanomorph with a hive mind representing the dawn of a new era in metallurgy, artificial intelligence, and robotic engineering. Due to the corruption of the EGO virus, she now controls all other machines in Metropolis 4. The Supervisor was the first droid designed to replace humans in management rather than production positions, made self-aware, and each individual nanobot is given a neural learning CPU, giving it the ability to adapt and think on its own. The Supervisor relies on electrical flux physics and the liquid properties of polymetamorphic titanium alloy. By adjusting the flow of the electrical charge, this alloy can reshape and mould itself into any form. The Supervisor and its characteristics bear a striking resemblance to the T-1000 character from Terminator 2: Judgment Day, played by Robert Patrick.

Graphics and FMV

The computer generated graphics were considered exceptional at the time of the release of the game. Despite appearing on systems which were cartridge-based, Rise of the Robots had some full motion video which was very impressive considering the limited space of cartridges and floppy disks. The games had FMVs which would show the main character flying across the city. A scene showing the opponent walking in and a scene showing the opponent dying although, on the Sega Genesis, it had a screen shot showing the opponent robot dead with words appearing which read "(Robots name here) destroyed. Proceed with caution."

Development

Rise of the Robots was developed for the Amiga and PC DOS platforms by Mirage's Instinct Design a team of five programmers led by former Bitmap Brothers member Sean Griffiths. According to Griffiths, Rise of the Robots was not a conventional fighting game, and the team are "using robots that fight and act unusually, with a very high level of artificial intelligence that has never been seen before. We'll definitely have one over on Street Fighter II.

The graphics in Rise of the Robots were created using Autodesk's 3D Studio software. The droids were designed by Sean Naden with conjunction with Griffiths. The backgrounds were created by a freelance interior designer Kwan Lee, who responded to an advertisement for a graphic artist. Naden was tasked by Griffiths to create "some kickass robots." The models for the droids were first created as mesh frames so they can be stretched and rescaled to create a desire to look. Feeling that the rendered models were "too clean", Naden created 2D texture map and added colour and detail; the texture map is then wrapped around the finished model to "give it that extra level of detail." The Cyborg was the most complex character to create because of his muscular appearance; Naden studied muscle magazines to create an anatomy for the Cyborg. Each droid took two months to render and was expected to have 100 frames of animation. Griffiths said that the team opted to use an "unusual angle" for all droids "so the player gets to see the whole robot." The team employed a chroma key technique to generate synthetic actors and place them on the background.

Andy Clark, the programmer for the Amiga version, was responsible for coding the game's artificial intelligence using a series of data tables. The AI is based on various attributes such as strength, intelligence, speed and motivation which alter the droid's behaviour. Clark created a table of responses to the opponent's moves, allowing the player to select the best responses by using their droid's intelligence and motivation. Other table generators were also created to examine which move the player is used frequently; Clark said, unlike other fighting games, "if you get good at a foot sweep, then your opponent will act more aggressively towards that move." The fighting moves were programmed by Gary Leach, who had experienced in martial arts. Leach also ported the AI tables to the PC version.

The game features soundtrack by Queen's guitarist Brian May,[1] whose solo album Back to the Light caught Mirage's attention. Musical tracks from the album, "The Dark" and "Resurrection", were chosen to fit the game's style and tone. Although the game boasted May's soundtrack,[2] only "The Dark" appeared in the final release, while the actual in-game score was done by Richard Joseph. While May did in fact record a full soundtrack to the game, it was postponed by his record company EMI, causing Mirage to proceed without May's musical contribution, with the exception of short guitar sounds.[3]

Ports and release

Mirage's PR manager Julia Coombs said that Rise of the Robots would be published by Time Warner Interactive, with Mirage serving only as a developer.[4] In addition to the Amiga and PC-DOS computer versions, Rise of the Robots was ported to various video game consoles, such as Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Mega Drive, Game Gear, 3DO Interactive Multiplayer,[4] Amiga CD32,[1][4] and Phillips CD-i.[4][5] The Mega Drive, Game Gear and SNES versions were developed and programmed by Data Design Interactive.[6] In a reverse of the usual pattern for video games, the home versions were all developed and released first, with the enhanced arcade version coming later. Coombs stated that Rise of the Robots was originally developed for the Amiga in mind, while the PC version was a "conversion 'upwards', meaning additions could be made." She added that problems emerged with the console versions, and porting the game from one platform to another was not straightforward.

Rise of the Robots was first unveiled at the 1993 Summer Consumer Electronics Show at the booth for Absolute Entertainment, who at the time owned the rights to the 3DO, Mega Drive, Game Gear, and SNES versions of the game. They later sold all Rise of the Robots rights back to developer Mirage, save the 3DO version rights. Mirage then sold the SNES rights on to Acclaim Entertainment. Rise of the Robots was driven by a multimillion-pound marketing campaign, which led to a novel from Penguin Books, and the discussions were carried out regarding toys, comics, an animated series and a feature film, though this never materialised. The game was intended to be released in February 1994, but it suffered a delay because the developers wanted to "continue to perfect the graphics and enhance the gameplay as much as possible. Rise of the Robots was eventually released in November 1994 for Amiga platforms.[7] The SNES version was released in December 1994, in North America by Acclaim Entertainment,[8] and in Japan by T&E Soft.[9] The Mega Drive version was scheduled for the December 1994 release in Europe, but it was delayed until February 1995.

Reception

Contemporary

[10] Reviewing the Amiga version for Amiga Power, Jonathan Davies described how review copies had only been released to the press a few days before the game went on sale, and concluded by stating that "it's probably because the graphics are [so] good that the game plays so poorly—every move the robots make takes so many frames of animation, and so much memory, and so many months of rendering with 3D Studio, that it simply wouldn't have been possible to make the gameplay any more complicated than it is." Davies highlighted a number of flaws, including the fact that the players could not turn around, the limited sound effects and music, the fact that the vast majority of computer opponents could be defeated by repeated use of a simple flying kick, and the static background graphics.

A reviewer for Next Generation remarked that "Although the glossily rendered images make the seven different warriors look truly remarkable, the actual playability of the game suffers from the same lack of control plaguing most PC fighting games." He further criticised the poorly designed opponent AI and called the game "one of the biggest disappointments of the year.

GamePro panned the Game Gear version, summarising that "The bad control, weak gameplay, and choppy animation infest this cart from start to finish." They particularly criticised that the moves are boringly basic and limited and that the choppy animation makes the player feel disconnected from what is happening on screen. Reviewing the SNES version, Electronic Gaming Monthly said that the graphics are excellent but that the poor control and a limited number of moves cripple the game. GamePro called it "one of the most unappealing fighting games ever made for the SNES", citing the dark and bland colour scheme and the "extremely weak and choppy" controls.

Electronic Gaming Monthly were, even more condemning of the 3DO version, with one of their reviewers calling it "by far the worst fighting game I've ever seen." All four of their reviewers panned it for having overlong cinemas, a severely limited number of moves, difficulty pulling off even basic punches and kicks, and long load times. GamePro also panned the 3DO version, commenting that "Rise offers deceptively good graphics - the rendered cinemas, characters, and backgrounds do their best to gloss over the choppy gameplay animation and lack of moves."

Retrospective

In 2014, GamesRadar staff named Rise of the Robots the 100th worst video game ever made. They discussed the propensity of bad 2D fighting games in the 1990s, and criticised its "aged" rendered 3D graphics, poor character balance, poor combo system, and difficulty spikes.[11] Kevin Green of Nintendo Life listed Rise of the Robots as one of the "games we hope to never see on the Virtual Console service." Green criticised the game for its monotonous gameplay, non-existent game balance and limited controls, saying it "was a horrible mess from start to finish, clearly rushed out to make money from the beat-em-up craze."[12] Reviewing the SNES version, Brett Alan Weiss of AllGame cited the game as "one of the most boring 16-bit fighting games", although he praised the game's soundtrack as "riveting and distinctive.

The Director's cut

Limited Edition 2 CD set that contains:

  • CD-ROM 1: The Game
    • Plot and gameplay are the same as with the normal Rise of the Robots.
  • CD-ROM 2: The Special Edition
    • The entire work in progress footage from the game.
    • Previously unseen cutting room floor material.
    • A host of interactive pre-production animations and rushes.
    • Thousands of still images.
    • The robots "as you've never seen them before".
    • Over 100 pages of behind the scenes material.
    • An insight into the birth and evolution of "the most talked about game in years".
    • The Making of Rise of the Robots.

Given the lack of success with this title, the maker of the game decided to propose it again in the Director's Cut version, containing a second CD in which there are inserted the creation of the game, image galleries and cards of various characters. In subsequent years, it was decided to create a sequel called Rise 2: Resurrection which includes, in addition to the aforementioned characters, other droids and a whole new story. As for graphics, there is no change; However, there are some news: a widening of the choice of characters (18 droids), the ability to choose the character to fight in two-player mode, and perform combos thanks to the expansion of the various robot moves the park.

Trivia

  • Rise of the Robots features an original song by Brian May, entitled "The Dark" and "Resurrection". The PC CD-ROM of the game featured two versions of the track in audio CD format along with other music from the game, and the European-released Special edition of the game featured a second CD with two additional versions of the song, as well as computer-altered sound files of May saying various words and phrases from the game. A newer version of "The Dark" and "Resurrection" later appeared on May's 1992 album, Back to the Light.
    • Game covers mentioned that Rise of the Robots contained music by rock guitarist Brian May. While technically true, the only Brian May music you hear in the game is an approximately 5-seconds long guitar solo at the beginning. Brian May was penned in to produce the entire soundtrack, however, completion was delayed and the soundtrack was not completed in time for the game's release.
  • Instinct Design, the developer for Rise of the Robots, claimed that the game would feature 100 frames of animation per robot, with a special keyframe system to ensure fluidity of movement. In reality, the game utilised 3 frames of movement for the robot punching, kicking and more.
  • There was actually a Sega CD version in development, which was going to be published by JVC, but it was never released. A preview video exists, but it doesn't show anything from that version, other than a box cover. The "Work in Progress" footage shown was in fact from the DOS version.
  • Rise of the Robots on PC was released on floppy disks and CD-ROM. The CD-ROM version had an animated intro instead of the stills as seen in the floppy disk version.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Davies, Jonathan (January 1995). Rise of the Robots review 60–61. Future Publishing.
  2. Les 10 jeux les plus décevants de l'histoire: Rise of the Robots (French). JeuxVideo.com. L'Odyssée Interactive (8 May 2009). Archived from the original on 25 February 2016. Retrieved on 25 February 2016.
  3. Eurogamer staff (8 February 2016). Die schlechtesten Spiele aller Zeiten: Die 90er In den Abgründen des 2D-3D-Wechsels (German). Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Archived from the original on 19 February 2016. Retrieved on 19 February 2016.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Byron, Simon (August 1994). Where Are You... Rise of the Robots?. EMAP.
  5. Cowan, Danny (25 April 2006). CD-i Retrospective. 1UP.com. IGN. Archived from the original on 19 February 2016. Retrieved on 19 February 2016. “The CD-i has a unique way of sucking all the fun out of a game -- even titles that were originally released for other platforms. It's no surprise when a crap fighter like Rise of the Robots gets ever crappier during its transition to the CD-i.”
  6. 1UP staff (10 September 2005). Ninjabread Man Preview for PS2. 1UP.com. IGN. Archived from the original on 25 February 2016. Retrieved on 25 February 2016. “Well, although Data Design have been around for something like 20 years, chances are you've never heard of them. Chances are also pretty good that you've played -- and remember -- at least one or two games from this development house. Unfortunately, the name of one of those games is probably Rise of the Robots, the Genesis/SNES fighting game stinker from Acclaim.”
  7. Nuttall, Andy (January 1995). Rise of the Robots review 76–77. EMAP.
  8. Super NES Games (PDF). Nintendo of America. Archived from the original on 25 October 2015. Retrieved on 25 October 2015.
  9. Famitsu in japanese (Japanese). Famitsu. Kadokawa Corporation. Archived from the original on 19 February 2016. Retrieved on 19 February 2016.
  10. Weiss, Brett Alan. Rise of the Robots (SNES) review. AllGame. All Media Network. Archived from the original on 14 November 2014. Retrieved on 19 February 2016.
  11. The 100 Worst Games of All Time. GamesRadar. Future plc (27 June 2014). Archived from the original on 2 July 2014. Retrieved on 26 February 2016.
  12. Green, Kevin (10 July 2007). Games we hope never get released on the Virtual Console. Nintendo Life. Gamer Network. Archived from the original on 22 March 2016. Retrieved on 22 March 2016.

External links

Principal Games
Rise of the Robots | Rise 2: Resurrection
Main characters
Anil 8 | Ard One | Assault | Bunnyrabbit | Chromax | Crusher | Cyborg | Deadlift | Detain | Griller | Insane | Loader | Lockjaw | Mayhem | Naden | Necroborg | Prime 8 | Rack | Rook | Salvo | Sane | Sheepman | Steppenwolf | Suikwan | Supervisor | Surpressor | V1-Hyper | Vandal | Vitriol | War
Information
Secret Characters | Electrocorp | Robots | Stages | Glossary | Main Storyline | Projectiles
Other
Videos | Novels

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