Bev Chen
30 Dec, 2011

Solatorobo: Red the Hunter Review

DS Review | All furry jokes aside now...
About a month ago, we reviewed Kirby: Mass Attack, an excellent game that we thought would round up the Nintendo DS library nicely. However, the release of Solatorobo: Red the Hunter has proven that Nintendo still has a few tricks up its sleeve. Given that it’s been out for a while, you may have already heard various things about the game, such as it being “the spiritual sequel to Tail Concerto” or “that furry game”. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting title, combining some remarkable (yet poorly executed) game mechanics and a story chock full of twists and turns.

In Solatorobo you play as Red Savarin, a bounty hunting sky pirate dog. Upon finding a strange medallion and an even stranger cat child, Red is roped into unlocking the secrets behind the medallion and the evil empire after it. Also, everyone speaks French. Thankfully, the story does get less predictable as you progress through the game. The characters get somewhat better as well, but it’s regrettable that we found them unlikeable to begin with. The limited range of sound clips for each character gets incredibly grating after a while too. From watching the opening alone, the game reeks of character archetypes: the cocky rouge, the promiscuous female, the stoic guy, the child shrouded in mystery. With an RPG like Solatorobo, having a strong and likeable cast of characters is very important, so it’s fortunate that the game world makes up for it. The world has been fleshed out in marvellous detail, both in terms of mythos and visuals. Sure, the models look fuzzy, but considering the game is on the DS, it’s very impressive.

"I am going to tell you exactly what to do." This is a puzzle, right?

"I am going to tell you exactly what to do." This is a puzzle, right?
The majority of Solatorobo’s gameplay takes place with Red handling the DAHAK, a mech walker that doesn’t seem to be that much bigger than most of the world’s inhabitants. There are a fair share of exploration sequences ala Zelda, during which the player can use either the DAHAK or let Red hop off it at almost any point. This leaves him free to explore certain areas and investigate certain hotspots. On the other hand, the DAHAK can be used to lift doors and solve crate puzzles. These lean towards tedium however, with the game content to hold your hand through these at every opportunity. But puzzle-solving doesn’t show that DAHAK is actually a very powerful little robot, so this is reflected in the core battle mechanic, although it isn’t what you may expect. In Solatorobo, fighting enemies consists of grabbing them, flipping them by mashing the A button and then throwing them. This little system can also form a combo to a certain extent, depending on how heavy the enemy has and how much lifting power DAHAK currently has. It's an interesting battle system, but not as satisfying as it could be; combos are extremely limited and the rinse-and-repeat monotony of the mechanics get boring quick.

The game does offer you a new mech later during the game which expands your battle choices, letting you swing enemies around, ground pound them and shoot projectiles. Unfortunately this does very little to increase the challenge of the game. However, what we did like about the DAHAK is the upgrade system. Upgrading the mech leads to better mobility and attack power, amongst other things. It’s not as easy as spending coin to jack these stats up though, as you’re also presented with a grid of the spaces available on the DAHAK for upgrade. You’re only given five spaces to start off with, but can spend power crystals to unlock them. Things get even trickier because of the way upgrades are shaped too, which makes spending crystals in the right places very important if you’re poor.

Air Robo GP is a great distraction.

Air Robo GP is a great distraction.
The developers haven’t scrimped on packing in bang for your buck either. Along with the main quest line, which lasts for about 15 hours or so, there are over 80 side quests to complete which are scattered throughout the numerous cities you visit. They are all pretty well varied too, so there’s no need to worry about completing Fetch Quest #24. There’s also a surprisingly complete airship racing game, featuring different airships, tracks and even boasting a multiplayer mode.

But alas, for all the good there is in Solatorobo, there are also issues we had with it that are just too huge to ignore. When you play a role playing game and the characters are unrelatable and unlikeable, that’s a problem. When you play an action game and the action is repetitive and boring, that’s a problem too. Adding insult to the injury is the game’s constant need to hold your hand and the overall lack of challenge throughout the whole thing. To us, Solatorobo is a title full of great ideas, which were wasted with shoddy execution. Nevertheless, those interested in games with great stories should check it out. You won’t be overly disappointed.
The Score
Solatorobo is a title full of great ideas, which were wasted with shoddy execution. Nevertheless, those interested in games with great stories should check it out. 6
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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1 Comment
2 years ago
PALGN wrote
Nevertheless, those interested in games with great stories should check it out. You won’t be overly disappointed.
"I recommend you check it out, you'll only be disappointed a little bit"? icon_razz.gif
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