Medabots AX is a melee fighting game based on a popular cartoon series. There are two versions available--Metabee and Rokusho--each with its own selection of bots, parts, and collectible medals. Much like in games like Pokémon and Robopon, your goal in Medabots AX is to use your robots in battle to defeat the other Medabot trainers. Unlike Pokémon or Robopon, however, Medabots AX does not have a lengthy quest or a detailed storyline. Therein lies the problem: Medabots AX is just too basic to warrant serious attention, let alone the purchase of two cartridges.
The gameplay is similar to that of Super Smash Bros. on the GameCube. You and your opponent both have two Medabots: a leader and a partner. During combat, all four robots battle against one another until one of the leaders is defeated. If you win, you'll gain experience points and possibly earn a new part to add to your robot. If you lose, you'll still gain experience, but you may lose a part.
The fighting is simple, but it's also terribly repetitive. The battles take place in large environments that are full of inclines, water hazards, and moving platforms. Your robot has arm and head attachments that you can use by pressing the B button and a direction on the control pad. Depending on the parts you've selected, these attachments will be used to perform a long-range, short-range, or grapple attack or a defensive maneuver. You can jump and block, and you can also give your robot partner various instructions with the R button. Due to the fast-paced nature of the game, however, the only practical strategy is to get right into your opponent's face, mash the GBA's buttons, and trigger your "medaforce attack" once the meter is full.
The lack of strategy in Medabots AX definitely knocks it down a peg or two. Each battle plays like the one before, and the strategy involved in the swapping of parts and medals is secondary to your ability to button-mash. The two-player multiplayer mode is more enjoyable, primarily because human opponents don't fall into the same attack patterns as the CPU.
Although there are two versions of the game, the differences between them are minor. Each has the same set of 15 locations and 30 trainers, many of which are drawn right from the television series. In the Metabee version, your initial robot is skilled at long-range attacks and weak at hand-to-hand combat. Conversely, the initial robot in the Rokushu version is tough up close, but feeble at a distance.
As you defeat the other trainers, you'll earn interchangeable parts and medals that you can use to create new Medabots with various strengths and abilities. In all, there are 120 different parts and 12 different medals to collect, but 20 parts and four medals are unique to each version of the game. As such, the only way to create all 30 Medabots and gather all 12 medals is to trade with friends who own the other version of the game. While trading elements suit RPGs like Pokémon, they don't really fit with this style of fighting game. As such, the interchangeable parts aspect is neat, but it doesn't justify making two people play such a repetitive game in order to build all 30 robots.
Fans of the cartoon will enjoy Medabots AX much more than players who are unfamiliar with its subject matter. Popular characters, such as Mr. Referee and the Rubberobo gang, appear frequently, and the visuals and music reflect the colorful, upbeat nature of the show. The robots are large and detailed, and the environments are full of superfluous touches like waterfalls, neon signs, and drifting clouds. The pregame introduction sequence borrows music from the cartoon, and there are a variety of sound clips during battle that further improve the game's presentation.
Nevertheless, the slick cartoon overlays don't negate the fact that Medabots AX is just a so-so fighting game. Even those who watch the series religiously will be hard-pressed to remain interested.