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Jahanzeb Khan
18 Sep, 2009

Custom Robo Arena Review

DS Review | Virtual-On for your DS.
Last time we dug into our back catalogue we found an interesting little Xbox 360 title called Wartech: Senko no Ronde. Today we find a title that is surprisingly similar to that game. This game is Custom Robo Arena for the Nintendo DS, a 3D mech combat title that also borrows heavily from the premier game of this unique genre, Virtual-On.

Custom Robo Arena features an elaborate story mode where gamers embark on a journey to become the best robo commander. The main character has family and friends and is pretty much an average kid who goes to school and represents his team in robo tournaments. Later on, we learn he has exceptional robo commanding abilities and along the way he meets new allies, rivals and even criminals. The story is not very deep or interesting at first but towards the end it becomes somewhat dramatic. The story is essentially about a boy's dream to become a world champion, quite similar to the plot in Pokemon games but thankfully it has more substance.

  
Some fine 3D mech action for the DS.

Some fine 3D mech action for the DS.
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The story mode is presented in a typical RPG fashion and it feels very similar to the Pokemon games. You will explore a small in-game world, battle trainers and spend money purchasing new parts for your custom robo and purchase new robo models. The main quest can be completed in just a few hours, but even after the credits roll you can go back and keep playing in order to complete challenges and collect more parts.

The main highlight of Custom Robo Arena is the battle system alone. While the in-game world is sprite based, the battles take place in full 3D where two robos duke it out in a fast paced battle. Custom Robo plays like Virtual-On and shares many similar mechanics and conventions. Your robo can boost around the 3D arena and fire missiles, lasers, guns, bombs and pods and can even perform melee strikes. Battles require players to strategically run and boost around their foe in order to hammer them with an effective combination of turret attacks and bombs. Players can also deploy explosive pods to trap or corner an opponent for a close range melee strike or bomb.

Battles take place in a variety of different 3D arenas and the structure and design of each of these arenas have a significant influence on battles. Each arena has a different layout of barriers that one can use to defend against enemy attacks and some also feature platforms, fire pits, deep water sections, moving barriers, explosive boxes and all sorts of interesting designs and gimmicks. This makes things more interesting as gamers will also have to take into account their surroundings while fighting their opponent.

  
You get to explore a simple RPG world.

You get to explore a simple RPG world.
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The game is played almost entirely with the digital controls and the use of the touch screen and stylus is not very significant or innovative. The major use of the touch screen and stylus is to clean your robo with a cloth. Later in the game though, the touch screen becomes useful to activate a ‘Soul Boost’, but that requires a simple touch.

Overall, the battles in Custom Robo Arena are immensely enjoyable, addictive and chaotic. The 3D combat mechanics work wonderfully on the DS courtesy of a solid control scheme. Battles flow nicely and the battle system has enough variety and depth to stay fresh and engaging.

As the name of the game suggests, there is a fair bit of customization. The game features hundreds of different parts and weapons as well as different robo designs and models, allowing a gamer to create a robo of his/her preference. The customization isn’t as overwhelming or deep like the one featured in the Armored Core series, instead Custom Robo Arena keeps things simple, fun and effective.

  
Shine it up real nice.

Shine it up real nice.
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As far as graphics go Custom Robo Arena is one of the better looking Nintendo DS games. As we mentioned, the in-game RPG world has been constructed with simple 2D sprites but the battle take place in full 3D, with the robots and arenas constructed with polygons. The 3D graphics look really decent and are perhaps one of the better examples of 3D being done right on the DS.

Virtual-On, Wartech Senko no Ronde and now Custom Robo Arena. Admittedly our reviews for these games are not overwhelmingly positive, but what’s worth noting here is that these type of games don’t show up at our shores too often and so they are certainly worth checking out. Custom Robo Arena is a fairly solid video game, anyone looking for a serious 3D combat game for the DS won’t find a better substitute.
The Score
Custom Robo Arena overall is a fun and addictive mech combat game that really works well on the Nintendo DS, making it a worthwhile purchase for owners of the system.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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5 Comments
4 years ago
I recall playing the GC original and was very dissapointed it never came to PAL territory. So getting a DS version was redemption enough for what is pretty much the same game with a different story and a few new gameplay twists.

While the game can get addictive with the gotta catch them all mentality, i found it to be too manic and random with very little tactical gameplay.

The Gamecube game "Gotcha Force" (same battle engine as the Arcade & PS2 Gundam games) was much better and even more addictive than this. (Think Powerstone with lasers) Making replaying the game (a necessity to get all 300+ bots) a joy. It's battle engine allowed for very tactical and strategic play and the co-op based multiplayer even adds more layers of tactics and strategy to the fights.

Custom Robo Arena is still great though especially at the <$30 new I've seen it around.
4 years ago
StompBrother wrote
I recall playing the GC original
I have the first two on N64! I loved it... even though I can't read Japanese.

I have to get around to getting this version - which by the way, was released over two years ago in Oz! So this review is just a tad late, just a tad.
4 years ago
yes I know. think of me as the archive guy icon_razz.gif
4 years ago
Hey, you shouldn't be posting, you've got a pretty big back catalog to get through!
4 years ago
Jahanzeb wrote
yes I know. think of me as the archive guy
Was a pleasure reading these "archive games" reviews. In particular two of my faves. Well done!

?oe?oe wrote
I have the first two on N64!
Arr I forgot the N64 Originals! I stand corrected. Just that the DS version looked a lot like the GC version.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  20/09/2007 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $69.95 AU
Publisher:
  Nintendo
Genre:
  Fighting
Year Made:
  2007
Players:
  2

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