RoboBlitz Hands-On

What's a maintenance robot to do when attacked by pirates? Kick robot butt, that's what.

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Stuck on a lonely defense outpost in outer space, what's a lowly maintenance robot to do when his home is invaded by space pirates intent on taking over the place? Well, if you're anything like Blitz, the robotic hero of the upcoming Xbox Live Arcade puzzle action game RoboBlitz, you take things into your own han...err robotic clampy arm things. At a recent Microsoft press event, we had a chance to check out this charming and challenging game for ourselves and can't wait to play more of it.

Blitz is no shrinking violet. When the going gets tough, he's perfectly able to kick some mechanical tail.
Blitz is no shrinking violet. When the going gets tough, he's perfectly able to kick some mechanical tail.

RoboBlitz stars the aforementioned Blitz, a service robot who zips around on a big metal ball throughout the station he calls home. As the game opens, Blitz is called down to the engineering bay by his robotic buddy, Karl. Here, Karl teaches you about some of the basics of moving around as Blitz in a tutorial that's fast paced. You move Blitz along with the right analog and can pick up objects by clamping onto them with your arms. Karl initially wants you to bring him a barrel, one of the many objects you'll find strewn around the space station.

It isn't long before the action really begins in RoboBlitz, and Karl and Blitz's station is invaded by space pirates intent on doing all sorts of harm. The first wave of attackers consists of small scouts that immediately set on Blitz. Taking them out is easy, fortunately, and you have multiple options here. At the very basic level, you can punch them by using the X button, or you can press the right button to perform a more advanced spin attack. Pick up a barrel or other metallic object, and your regular attacks and spin moves will be that much more effective. Later on in the game, Blitz will get new weapons, including an EMP rifle (which acts as a stun gun against other robots) and a point-to-point beam that lets you bind objects to one another in increasingly clever ways.

One of the coolest aspects of RoboBlitz is its overall look. The game looks more realistic than what you might expect from a XBL arcade game, with grittier-looking textures that really convey the run-down, rusted nature of Blitz's surroundings, while still maintaining a whimsical charm. The game is also remarkably austere, with very little in the way of a heads-up display or other on-screen menus to get in your way. Your main sources of information--Blitz's health and energy gauges--are located on his back, for example, which is an unintrusive way of keeping you informed of his well-being.

Though we didn't get a great deal of time to spend with RoboBlitz, the game's blend of arcade action and puzzle challenges was clear from the get-go. As you progress through the game, you can expect to receive new weapons thanks to your pal Karl, including the aforementioned point-to-point gun and a hover gun that lets you levitate objects you shoot. How you use your weapons to solve the many challenges on board the space station seems to be a key component to RoboBlitz's gameplay. For example, using the hover gun, you can shoot a box, then clamp onto it with your arms and float across to an area Blitz might otherwise not be able to reach. The point-to-point gun is not just for stringing together objects; it can also be used as a weapon against enemies or for unlocking the more complicated puzzles in the game. For an excellent demonstration of many of the different weapons, check out this demo movie.

With an amiable sense of humor, challenging mix of puzzles and action, and an Unreal-engine-powered visual style, RoboBlitz surely isn't your typical Xbox Live Arcade game. We look forward to seeing more of the game ahead of its release before the end of the year.

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