May 20th, 2012 | By Joe Grogan
Deadmau5, Skrillex and Vector Lovers: the three big players on today’s electronic dance scene. Okay, maybe there’s a little bit of exaggeration in that statement, but if you take Go Robo!, the latest game developed by Recluse Industries and backed by Iwari, for a spin, you’ll understand why there shouldn’t be any at all.
The premise of the game is simple: you’re a robot with a need to bust loose. You’ll spend your time dancing down a series of multicolored platforms, collecting cassette tapes and avoiding obstacles like other evil robots and go-go girls. Power-ups you encounter along the way will help you get a leg up on those who would put a stop to your boogie, and occasionally you’ll be transported to a Star Wars themed bonus level where you fly through pictures of Princess Leia while passing by pictures of her manlier alter-ego. The more cassette tapes you collect, the more tracks you unlock. The longer you dance, the more points you earn. It’s a basic, addictive concept which is right at home on the iOS.
Technically, Go Robo! is impressive. While the graphics won’t leave you wondering if you accidentally played Crysis, they’re nothing to shake a stick at, and the constantly changing neon colors that characterize the game world will leave you enthralled every time you play. The controls are minimalistic in that you don’t actually have to touch the screen of your device unless you are browsing the menus. The accelerometer controls the game itself, which has found a nice balance between hair-trigger sensitive and tortoise-like unresponsiveness. The true area where the title excels: Sound. Every one of the four tracks in the game is Vector Lovers’ personal creation, and is, quite simply, incredible. He has been producing electronic music since 2002, and it really shows in this title. Even if you aren’t a fan of the dance music scene, if you don’t know all of the ins and outs of dubstep and hardstyle and the other styles that make up the genre, you won’t have any trouble getting into Go Robo!’s soundtrack. It’s accessible to newcomers as well as intricate enough to satisfy experienced listeners, and it won’t leave you disappointed.
However, as well-built and conceived as it is, some players may find that they have a hard time sticking with this title for more than a few hours. The reason for this is twofold. First, it just isn’t very challenging. After playing on-and-off for four or five hours I was able to snag the global high score by almost twice the old record. The next morning, I beat my previous score and set a new record. While normally I’d chalk this up to my sheer awesomeness, I knew I couldn’t do that here. Go Robo!is so easy that I didn’t feel like I had to work for the world record. When a game doesn’t challenge a player, when it doesn’t engage them, it doesn’t give them any incentive to keep coming back.
The other issue is that the more I played it, the less Go Robo! felt like a game. This didn’t make any sense at first. It has all of the pieces of a great mobile game and is a lot of fun for a few hours. Then I did some research. If you aren’t familiar with the name, Vector Lovers is the moniker used by British electronic music producer Martin Wheeler. Wheeler owns Iwari, a digital media production firm which backs Recluse Industries, a game development entity owned by, you guessed it, Wheeler. Once you realize that Vector Lovers, Iwari and Recluse Industries (all of which are one man shows) are the only three names that show up in Go Robo!’s credits, it becomes easy to see the title as less of a game and more of a way for Wheeler to promote his music. This is not, of course, to say that he is any less of a talented game developer. It simply explains why this title has the potential to get old very quickly.
Still, as far as mobile games so, you can do a lot worse for your $0.99 than Go Robo! If you’ve been looking to expand your musical horizons and you don’t mind only getting a few hours of solid gameplay out of your purchase, go dig around in your couch for some change and pick it up from the App Store. You won’t regret it.
You can find out more about Vector Lovers, Iwari and Recluse Industries, including how a portion of the profits of each go to support autism research, at their respective websites here, here and here. The iOS version can be downloaded at the App Store, universal for iPhone and iPad for $0.99.