Robopon 2 Preview

The follow up to Atlus's original robot collecting and battling RPG offers new multiplayer modes, bigger battles, and more.

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There's something to be said for the joy of collecting. The thrill of stumbling upon a new rarity, the constant feeling of progress, and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with looking over the collection you've amassed all provide a certain satisfaction. There's also a certain pleasure in customizing an army of robots and crushing all who stand in your way. Robopon 2: Ring Version and Robopon 2: Cross Version for the GBA go for both of these concepts, following up the success and story of the first title on the Game Boy Color.

As before, battles take place in a sort of RPG-like interface.
As before, battles take place in a sort of RPG-like interface.

Having obtained the title of "Legend 1" in the original game, Cody sets off upon a giant fish-shaped ship to a new tournament and new challenges. The situation changes drastically when the ship is blown off course and the young hero finds himself in a strange land of Majinko. You'll quickly find that nearby lands are being terrorized by the maleficent Maskman and his numerous henchmen. To top it off, Cody's rival, Bisco, is intent on following the champion to the ends of the earth so he can defeat him in battle. Only with the help of old friends from the first game, a little time travel, and a whole lot of robot battling can things be set right.

Aside from much-improved graphics and sound, Atlus promises players a much longer and more challenging quest, an expanded battle system, and more in this sequel on the Game Boy Advance. Once again, the focus is on acquiring and customizing mechanical gladiators known as Robopon. Each will be categorized as one of three types: arm, move, or boot. Arm types are fairly balanced with high attack ratings, move types are the fastest to act, and boot types have very high offense and defense ratings but are the slowest of the three types. Players will acquire new Robopon by capturing them in battle or creating them using the sparks of the batteries found throughout the game.

In addition to different statistics like hit points and energy points, your metal warriors will also belong to a particular class and have an oil type that determines their compatibility with other Robopon. Both arm and move types can equip various parts and software, while boot types will have to rely on their superior power. You'll be able to pick one of three attack patterns to set for each robot's "auto" setting. For a final bit of customization, you can change the color of each Robopon to your liking.

You travel to the strange land of Majinko in this giant metallic fish.
You travel to the strange land of Majinko in this giant metallic fish.

"Ionpunch" and "magsword" are examples of the weaponry you'll find on your quest. Each part has different values for stats like attack, defense, and speed. Software will teach attacks like "fire" or healing skills like "kiss." Equipping the right combination of software can yield even more powerful techniques--two "wind2" programs, for example, will yield the skill "sonic." More items and parts for your metallic pals can be purchased in stores or earned in minigames like bingo in the Playland amusement center. Kerosene and 10-volt batteries restore life and energy, and "start up" will wake a sleeping robot.

Whether you're exploring a dungeon or being challenged by other Robopon masters in town, battle is a big part of the game. In Robopon 2, the fights have been expanded to allow you to fight with four of your Robopon at once against similar groups of enemies. The side that happens to be faster will be able to act first, which is a reason to consider including move type Robopon in your party. Combat options include attack, guard, skill, item, and escape.

Expect to crawl through a fair share of dungeons in your quest to amass a gang of powerful robots.
Expect to crawl through a fair share of dungeons in your quest to amass a gang of powerful robots.

Attack will use the parts equipped to cause direct damage to your target. When this option is chosen, you'll also get a chance to use the battle slot machine, which affects the power and accuracy of your attack. If you're lucky, you may even regain health or completely destroy an enemy. If you choose auto, your Robopon will act according to the attack pattern you chose for it on the status screen. Like any other RPG, Robopon 2 has its fair share of status ailments. These uniquely named maladies include reboot (no action for one turn), hacked (unable to use skills), and rust (absorbs damage every turn).

While the single-player mode offers a lengthy quest, Robopon 2's two multiplayer modes offer a variety of simple minigames. The first multiplayer mode, 4 tune battle, contains four games for one or two players: jumper, puncher, itemaze, and battler. The first game will launch your selected Robopon from a ramp. You must control it in flight to get the maximum distance and make a perfect landing. Puncher tests the contestants' strength with a giant punching bag, and itemaze is a competition to collect items within a maze. Battler is a competition with several different leagues that lets two players link up for a head-to-head battle.

You'll be able to engage in various minigames with your robots, such as this one, called Jumper!
You'll be able to engage in various minigames with your robots, such as this one, called Jumper!

The second multiplayer mode, panel attack 27, is playable with up to four players. Each player takes turns forming paths on a grid. A giant skull patrolling the grid will move steadily as each player takes his or her turn. The goal is to lead the roaming skull into other players. Additionally, players can link up and "spark" four batteries to create new Robopon. Very rare Robopon can be created in this way, and to ensure fairness. both players will get one of whatever robot was created.

All things considered, Robopon 2 looks like it will be a strong entry in the popular collecting and battling genre. The game will offer a total of 185 different Robopon, and the Cross and Ring versions will both contain five exclusive robots. The title is currently being debugged by the dedicated staff at Atlus USA, and it should be on shelves sometime during spring 2002.

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