Earlier today, Vivendi Universal Games stopped by the GameSpot offices with an early PlayStation 2 version of the recently announced Robots, which is currently in development at Eurocom. Based on Blue Sky's upcoming animated movie of the same name, Robots will see you assuming the role of an ambitious young robot named Rodney Copperbottom, who comes from a poor background (his father is a dishwasher) but dreams of one day making the world a better place. Chasing his dream, Rodney travels to Robot City in the hope of meeting with the greatest robot who ever lived, Big Weld. However, Rodney finds that Big Weld has mysteriously vanished and that the future of Robot City is being threatened by an evil robot named Ratchet.
As a result of his humble beginnings, Rodney has a gangly and distinctly low-tech look about him. Baby robots, you see, are assembled rather than conceived by their parents. Then--every birthday--they receive upgrades that help them to "grow up." Rodney's upgrades have always been secondhand or hand-me-downs, as have those of the "Rusties," an oddball group of robot characters that Rodney befriends shortly after arriving in Robot City.
We've only seen a brief trailer for the Robots movie to date (it's not scheduled for release until March 2005), but we'd have to say that so far the game does a pretty good job of re-creating its look and feel. Movie animators have been working on the game alongside Eurocom, and Blue Sky has already approved a large number of Eurocom's additional character designs for inclusion in the game. Blue Sky is also furnishing Eurocom with 2D backdrops that will make the game's Robot City look as expansive as its movie counterpart.
As Rodney, you'll be able to move at your disposal, so you'll be able to perform double-jumps, stomp and slide attacks, and you'll be able to execute a relatively feeble-looking punch. Fortunately, in addition to upgrades for Rodney, you'll gain access to a number of weapons as you progress through the game, including a wrench, an electro gun, and a magnet gun. When you defeat enemies, they'll be reduced to piles of scrap metal and spare parts--both of which you'll want to collect. Scrap metal is the currency in the game, and it's the ammunition for your scrap-launcher weapon. Meanwhile, spare parts can be transformed into upgrades for Rodney and his diminutive flying sidekick, Wonderbot.
Wonderbot, like any good platform game sidekick, will largely be content to just hover around Rodney while he does all of the hard work. He'll have his uses, though. Like Kazooie, Clank, and numerous other sidekicks before him, Wonderbot will allow Rodney to glide over gaps that you'd have no chance of jumping over, and once you're in possession of the Wonderbot control upgrade, you'll be able to switch between the two characters so that you can have the little guy fly into areas with entrances that are either inaccessible or just too small for Rodney.
Based on what we've seen of the game to date, you'll pretty much gain access to upgrades in one of two ways as you progress through the game. Upgrades that are required for you to unlock new levels will be presented to you in the form of blank blueprints that are unusable until you find the 16 pieces of information to complete them, while more powerful weapons and suchlike can simply be purchased from remote vendor kiosks that are scattered throughout the city.
Traveling around the city--or at least to areas of the city that you've unlocked--will require the use of a "Transport Ball," which is the same kind of thing that hamsters run around in, only it's self-propelled and seats two. Transport ball sequences will be completely interactive, and today we got to see two very different transport ball journeys being played through. The first, and most straightforward, saw Rodney taking to the freeways of the future while guiding his transport ball through traffic en route to his final destination. The trip was largely uneventful, but we're assured that the final game will spice these sections up a bit with challenges from non-player characters, jump ramps, boost pads, and other such. The second transport ball sequence we got to take a look at, which is quite possibly Robot City's old roadway, was essentially an obstacle course that'll require you to maneuver your ball quite precisely over narrow bridges, across jumps, and around enemies. If you're familiar with the PlayStation game MoHo, you'll have some idea of what to expect.
Eurocom's PS2, Xbox, GameCube, and PC versions of Robots are currently scheduled for release in February 2005. Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS versions of the game are also in development at Griptonite Games. We'll bring you more information as soon as it becomes available.