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Video Game / Robotrek

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Mons are cool. We know this. But what about robot mons combined with humor that pokes fun at the RPG genre? This is the basic premise of Robotrek, known as Slapstick in Japan, released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

It tells the tale of the young son of Doctor Akihabara, whose family has just moved to the village of Rococo. All is not well in the world as the Hackers are trying to take over the world with robots, and it's up to this young lad to stop them with his robotic servants that he himself made, called "Robots".

Though the "Save the World" plot didn't blow many minds, Robotrek's gameplay was a refreshing change of pace. The game includes a great deal of Character Customization for a Super Nintendo RPG, and the combat is an odd hybrid of real-time and turn-based gameplay. Unfortunately, the level of customization can be daunting; a poorly-specced robot makes the game much more difficult than it already is. Additionally, like most Japanese RPGs before Final Fantasy VII popularized them in the west, it suffers from a sloppy translation. The game is still a worthy addition to any retro gamer's library.


Robotrek contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Rococo has one.
  • Absurdly High Level Cap: Level 99. Your robots reach 99 points in every category other than health (which isn't capped) by level 47, and the highest level "Inventor's Friend" book is level 80. If you do get all the way there, your robots will have maxed-out stats and 624 health.
  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Possibly justified in that everyone thinks you're just a kid and not on a mission to save the world. Although you'll find when you can just make the consumables you've been buying off others, they're actually cheaper. Subverted in that there is one place in the game where you can get items cheaper than normal (Past Rococo).
  • All There in the Manual: Copies of the game included lists of Item Crafting combinations, the possible attack Combos you can program into your robots, and the locations of the Inventor's Friend volumes.
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  • Always Check Behind the Chair: Especially in the beginning. You can obtain a ton of items that will be of great benefit later on.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: The Japanese box art has the main character with a backpack full of scrap reading a book. The American box art is of a foreboding space station — which spoils the last few hours of the game.
  • An Axe to Grind: A robot with an axe is a thing to be feared. Axes do more straight melee damage than any weapon, and do reliable damage compared to the occasional immunity enemies show to Sword Beams.
  • Artificial Human: The protagonist's mother. But it's nothing significant anyway.
  • Artificial Stupidity: With the multi-layered battlefield, you can position your robot directly above or below enemies. In most cases they are utterly incapable of coping with this tactic and will attack at empty space idiotically.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Quite a few, see Power Up Let Down and Useless Item.
    • The Bomb/Shot or Shot/Bomb combo. Usefulness tends to drop drastically after the first boss due to either resistance to shot attacks or RUN programs. They also use all of the charge gauge
  • Back Stab: Attacks from behind do more damage. Certain combos let you jump behind an enemy to exploit this, and some enemies have similar skills.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Mice. Later, you can become a mouse at will with the right invention.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: The game's story is fairly interesting, but at times almost impenetrable due to all the Engrish, on top of a dozen examples of poor dialogue attribution.
    • One in particular due to the awkward way it was translated was a book explaining the robots. It mentions that one is better at doing damage, but it was explained in a way that the robot had some mysterious buff. What it was trying to explain is the customization feature of the game, explaining you could have a robot who's sole role is being a Glass Cannon if you wanted.
    • When you confront hacker leader Blackmore, his pre-fight spiel says that he will "help you get revenge on Blackmore". So...he's going to help you beat himself up? note 
    • If you try and use the Blimp in Past Rococo, the game informs you "The Blimb can't be used here." Considering B is nowhere near P on a QWERTY keyboard...
  • Bluff the Imposter: To expose the fake Mayor, the player needs to exploit the real Mayor's well-known fear of dogs.
  • Boss in Mook's Clothing/Elite Mooks: Berets and Maskers. On the field they're invisible without a special item, which you won't have when you encounter them for the first time. They also do a ridiculous amount of damage. If you can defeat them though, you'll be generously awarded a lot of data.
  • Boring, but Practical: Some enemies, including a boss or two, have resistance to RUN programs. And quite a few enemies will start having resistance to shot or bomb type damage. This makes single strike melee weapon hits the most reliable method of doing good damage.
  • Character Customization: You choose the distribution of each robot's stats, as well as its equipment and attack combos.
  • Combos: You can configure your robots with up to eight at a time, many of which have unique effects.
  • Developers' Foresight: In one area, you're turned into a mouse and tasked with emptying the Hackers' coffers (5000 GP) in order to be turned back. As a condition of your new form, you're too short to use the Invention Machine and can't use items in battle, which nominally prevents you from making repairs or buying new equipment. However, each time you gain a level you can use the Portable Invention Machine, with which you can spend money to your heart's content. If you manage to reduce your total GP to less than 5000, the intended recipient comments on the lack of funds — then takes everything you have left. If you manage to reach zero GP (which is a lot harder but still doable), he'll assume you're holding out and you'll have to find at least a little money to give him. Abusing this is a good way to afford your third robot.
  • Disc-One Final Dungeon: The Hacker Fortress.
  • Disc-One Nuke: Three weapons can count
    • Sword 4. While you get it a few hours into the game, it effectively obsoletes all shot-type and bomb weapons because it hits every enemy per swing, does decent damage out of the gate, few enemies resist it, consumes little on the charge meter, and is easily upgradable by combining it with the relatively cheap Sword 1. To top it off, Sword 4 is considered its own attack type and few enemies have resistance against it.
    • Punches. Their gimmick is having a high critical hit chance and critical hits override defenses. With a maxed out Punch 3 (obtainable a few hours into the game) which has a high critical hit rate and a focus on the robot's Power stat, you can easily dish out damage to two shot most bosses until the Disc-One Final Dungeon should you score critical hits.
    • Axes. They are the most powerful melee weapon bar none, and trivially easy to make. If you have some money and know what you're doing, you can make a Lvl 9 Axe 1 fairly early in the game. With a little more know how, you can get Axe 3 before the third boss. You can also level any of the Axes up by combining it with Sword 1.
  • Dismantled MacGuffin: The Tetron stones are the fragments of the Tetron; a Time Mastery device created by the hero's ancestor, Rask.
  • Doppelgänger Attack: Done by an early boss. Some enemies also have the ability to summon more of themselves, though the ones summoned are real and worth experience.
  • Eek, a Mouse!!: Mint is afraid of mice, which comes up in two separate dungeons.
  • Einstein Hair: Dr. Einst, natch.
  • Energy Weapon: One of them shoots dragons.
  • Futureshadowing: The encounter with Napoleon in the volcano shrine.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: You are on your way to be one.
  • Global Airship: Two — the first lets you travel all around the world, while the second lets you explore space as well.
  • Going for the Big Scoop: Mint the newspaper reporter.
  • Good Morning, Crono: Dr. Akihabara has a rather interesting way of waking you up at the beginning of the game (A musical horn that sounds like an explosion).
  • Guide Dang It!: Upgrading and making equipment from combinations follows a fairly predictable pattern. But some equipment you may be scratching your head about how to obtain unless you have the supplemental materials (see All There in the Manual).
    • A lot of the equipment have special traits that are not communicated clearly in the game, if they're communicated at all.
  • Haunted House: Count Prinky's mansion.
  • Improbable Weapon User: The hero doesn't usually fight, but the Weather item used in-battle does allow him to damage enemies by summoning lightning or hail.
  • Invisible Monsters: As noted in Pre-existing Encounters below, some set encounters only have the enemies show up when you approach, and some are outright invisible without the Chameleon Glasses.
  • Item Crafting: The major premise of the game. You can either combine items together or use essentially buy them by learning how to make them from Inventor's Friend books, each of which requires a particular experience level.
  • Karma Houdini: The Mayor has the police steal the Tetron from the hero to give to his secretary, a Hacker boss. He never apologizes, or even thanks the hero for rescuing him from her.
  • The Lopsided Arm of the Law: The Rococco police are completely and utterly incapable of dealing with the roving Hacker gangs or even rescuing kids trapped in a cave-in, while the Hero and his robots duck in and out of danger zones like hopscotch, smacking them around with impunity. However, once the Hero tracks down all four pieces of the Dismantled MacGuffin and returns to Rococco, the cops grab him, accuse him of stealing them from the Mayor, and confiscate them, whereupon the Mayor hands them over to the woman he's seeing, who's actually a Hacker boss.
  • Metal Slime: The Shells in the Rococo sewer. They can randomly block attacks, have very high defenses and tend to run away. Pretty much the only way to kill one is to hope you land a critical hit. Should you beat one, you get 30 EXP/Megs of data, about the same as the first two bosses.
  • Mons: An interesting take, since you make them.
  • Non-Action Guy: Your robots are the ones who do all the fighting.
  • Notice This: If text is highlighted in any way, chances are it's of some importance. Shelves with readable books have one book sticking out to indicate that it can be read.
  • Our Time Travel Is Different: It's not easy to pin down what type of time travel is used when the player ends up in past Rococo.
  • Pamphlet Shelf: You learn to make new items from scratch by reading books, so you'll be checking out every bookshelf you find. There's even a hidden library that contains one of each volume in the game.
  • Party in My Pocket: Literally, since the player's robots are contained in capsules.
  • Permanently Missable Content: Several dungeons and past Rococo become inaccessible after you go through them, so any items you miss are gone for good.
  • Power Up Let Down: Blade 4, like Sword 4, can launch an attack that can hit all on-screen enemies once sufficiently leveled up and is the most powerful weapon in the game. Unfortunately, it can't be leveled up unless the player seeks out the equipment leveling capsules in battle (which is more tedious than anything). Worse still, it is useless against a large portion of the mooks you'll be fighting from then on, though the three-swing combo will kill some things one shot won't.
  • Pre-existing Encounters: Random encounters are of this variety. Though in many cases the enemies don't appear until you get close to their hiding places. And a few are invisible.
  • Product Placement: Your computer at the beginning has an advertisement for ActRaiser 2 and Illusion of Gaia.
  • Rare Random Drop: Ludicrous in some instances. Those gel enemies and robots in the first areas of the game? They sometimes drop enough GP to build the next two robots.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Nagisa, to the player's mother. Dr. Akihabara even mentions she was modeled after his late wife when she was young.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: When the hero ends up in Past Rococo, he can change a few things — reconcile a feuding family, donate money to build the town hall, plant flowers — and the results will persist in the present; a pair of Star-Crossed Lovers are instead embraced by both their families, the hero is in a group photo in the town hall, and there are flowers everywhere.
  • Shock and Awe: Sword 4 calls down lightning to hit all enemies. So does Weather.
  • Shout-Out: Oh, one of the endgame weapon is a blade that shoot fire birds? Now, where did we see that before? As all these games are developed by Quintet, it's somewhere between an author allusion and a Running Gag.
    • One character is a vampire named Count John Paul Belmont Prinky.
  • Stable Time Loop: You have the option of closing a rather inconsequential one when you wind up in past Rococo. Give Count Prinky a Small Robot, and that explains why there's one at the mansion when you visited the house at the beginning of the game. There's another one when the player encounters Napoleon in the past, explaining how he knows of you in the Volcano Shrine.
  • Translator Microbes: At one point you must craft an item that allows you to speak with animals. And when you get turned into a mouse (see Baleful Polymorph above), you can automatically communicate with other mice (while still understanding humans as well).
  • Useless Item: Most weapon types have a gimmick, but some of those gimmicks make the weapon useless. For example, Hammers, a melee weapon, has the trait of knocking enemies back. Another is that Shot type weapons have damage fall off the farther you're away from the enemy, making them more useful as a close range weapon than a long range one.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Big Eye cements what's necessary in boss fights from there on out. If you are ill-equipped for Big Eye, aside from grinding, the average player stands little chance. Even if you are properly equipped, Big Eye is still quite a challenging boss.