Have You Played… Rise Of The Robots?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

I worry that one of gaming’s most infamous releases may be being forgotten by history. Almost never do I hear its name raised when people talk about great gaming disasters these days, so let’s remember once more lest we be doomed to repeat it. Rise Of The Robots was the beat-em-up you could win by just doing flying kicks to the right.

It was a mess on such a grand scale. Millions and millions of dollars went into marketing it. It was supposed to be this massive, breakthrough franchise, spun off into toys and movies and theme park rise no doubt. Heck, there was even a novelisation. Except, when it came out, it possibly didn’t quite live up to expectations.

ROTR was so graphically advanced for those Amigary days that all previews had been breathaking. However, when it came to running it on home machines, it staggered about badly, unable to cope with the rendering. And that was the least of its problems. So poorly implemented was the fighting that it was a game easier to play on Hard than Easy, a game in which you couldn’t turn your character to face the left (quite an essential feature in most fighting games), and most famously, you could win any fight against the AI by holding up, right and kick.

And to prove things were never any different, the extraordinary hype that came out before the game’s release sure helped with the ol’ review scores. While the legendary Amiga Power gave it a perfect 5%, it saw some absolutely astonishing scores elsewhere. Scores that, well, didn’t really make sense. 90% in Amiga User International, for instance. Europress’s Amiga Action gave it 92%! That’s right, 1995 Amiga magazines, I’m calling you out. Right here, right now.

48 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    tigerfort says:

    Yes. Yes, I have, and it really is that bad.

  2. frakswe says:

    and my amiga cd32 original game even got audio bugs in the intro on top of it all :) awesome animations tho.

  3. Sleepery says:

    I miss my Amiga 600 :(

    • Beefenstein says:

      My mechanical gaming keyboard does not have the numpad and it reminds me of the A600 and I am happy.

  4. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    Have I played Rise of the Robots?
    No, but then I haven’t tried pouring molten wax into my eyeballs either.

  5. Rane2k says:

    I remember this one, it had a ridiculous amount of diskettes, and it was REALLY bad.

    A german Sega gaming magazine (“Gamers” i think it was called) gave the Mega Drive port a mark “6” (F), the worst they have ever given to any game.

    It had a really small number of characters, and in the campaign mode you could only choose the human looking guy.

    • Kurokawa says:

      Yeah, it was “Gamers” and that’s exactly where I first learned about the Rise disaster. (Back in the days when little me still dreamed about owning a Mega Drive.)

      To this day their review’s final comment, consisting of nothing but half a dozen variations of the sentence “Don’t buy it!”, is what I first think of whenever I hear the game’s title.

  6. nullward says:

    I played the SNES version. Somehow they still hadn’t fixed the problem of “One player must always be the blue one”. Yeah, it was still pretty bad. It looked pretty, but by that time on the SNES Donkey Kong Country had done pretty better.

  7. Tehgriefer says:

    Worst game ever, it was a crap.

  8. Plague MD says:

    I have, and it was terrible. There is even a sequel, which I think is the same mess, if not worse.

    Go play One Must Fall: 2097 instead. That’s an Epic Megagames classic. That studio hardly had a bad game in the mid-90es.

    • Premium User Badge

      RaveTurned says:

      YES!

      OMF:2097 was amazing (at least for PCs, at the time). Just reading your comment has lodged the title music in my head, and I want to play it again for nostalgia kicks. :)

      • icarussc says:

        I want to know why there’s no Have You Played for that??? HUH???!?! It was so good.

    • Konservenknilch says:

      Heh. I didn’t play this game, and I’m not a fighty-punchy gamer anyway, but my first reaction was “but I DID play OMF”. Such a classic.

    • NZLion says:

      The real year 2097 has a lot to live up to, between One Must Fall and WipEout

  9. Chromatose says:

    Richard Joseph’s soundtrack on the SNES version was absolutely fantastic though. Really authentic sounding early-90s electronics that conveyed just the right level of threat, and got more rhythmically complex the further up the roster you went – from Loader’s lumbering, EBM-indebted thump, up to Sentry’s proto-IDM breakbeats.

    Shame the rest of the game was so utterly execrable really.

  10. Chaz says:

    I’m still trying to forget it after spending £50 on the SNES cart. Back then Street Fighter 2 had spawned a near endless wave of copycat beat em ups and I must have bought most of them, inc Body Blows (Amiga), ClayFighter (SNES), Weapon Lord ((SNES) it was actually quite good).

    • Beefenstein says:

      Shadow Fighter was the best Amiga fighting game I ever played.

  11. naetharu says:

    For anyone interested in the background to this game I highly recommend the excellent review by Kim Justice on YouTube. Her videos are excellent and are built upon top notch research. Can’t recommend them enough!

    • Beefenstein says:

      Kim Justice is simply Youtube gold, doubly so because it’s far less popular than it should be. I feel privileged to know about it.

    • Chorltonwheelie says:

      Just watched Kim’s “DOOM – THEN AND NOW: A Personal History of Demon Slaughter” on the strength of this.
      Great recommend, thanks.

    • GAmbrose says:

      I know it’s incredibly shallow but his voice really puts me off :(

      • Pizzzahut says:

        Whats wong wif his woice?

        • durrbluh says:

          I had to go look him up after reading this, and in perfect universal harmony, his intro video includes mention of “Wise of the Wobowts” at about the 39 second mark.

          I doubt he has a career in radio, but if he can monetise his youtube videos, good on him for pursuing his passion.

  12. Eleriel says:

    This is the game that got me into 3d-animation/modelling.
    it sadly didn’t last long… but that loader-character was really cool-looking.

  13. Pulstar says:

    It looked great in screenshots, but most non-Amiga magazines blasted it for its shite gameplay.

  14. Menthalion says:

    One Must Fall 2097 all the way

  15. adelicatebalance says:

    It was a shame it was so bad. A robot fighting game could be brilliant. And yes I played it on SNES.

  16. Rack says:

    No beating CU Amiga’s review of Epic, giving it 92% 3 months before development of the game even stared.

  17. Beefenstein says:

    Finally a game John likes!

  18. Premium User Badge

    Tendehka says:

    Finally, the hard hitting take on ethics in Amiga games journalism I’ve been waiting for!

  19. Maxheadroom says:

    I was software manager in a small electronics shop when this came out, and im ashamed to say I bought into the pre-release hype, early reviews and the sales spiel of the software supplier, and I bought about 50 units for each console.

    Months later we’d sold maybe 1 or 2 on each platform eventually flogging them off for like a fiver each (RRP was £59.99!!). Cost the store owner £1000s. If you’re reading this, sorry Paul :(.

  20. 18pd says:

    Meh, Rise of the Robots, whatever. Now Amiga Power is truly something gone but never forgotten o7

  21. Premium User Badge

    Risingson says:

    For what I’ve heard this game was considered as a success: quality didn’t matter, just a powerful campaign did.

    The sequel was alright though, right?

    And yes, OMF is AMAZING

  22. Chaoslord AJ says:

    Oh for a moment I mixed it up with “One must fall” and was upset because I loved that one.
    Also with robots.
    Edit: yeah other commentators also remember :)

  23. Pravin Lal's Nuclear Arsenal says:

    I have a confession: I kinda enjoyed this game on the SNES. I’ve often wondered why, considering that I nod emphatically every time it appears on a “Worst of” list.
    I mean, it’s not like I didn’t see its flaws but I guess that the atmosphere was captivating (the manual was well made), I liked the progression in the campaign that went from industrial bots to killing machines and, on the multiplayer side, my brother loved the blue cyborg so much that he’d have picked him anyway, leaving me free to experiment…to a point: the hit detection was so dodgy that he’d refuse to play if I picked the red robot.
    At the end of the day, though, I think that the real reason was that I was 10, I only got one or two cartridges a year and “taste in videogames” was something that happened to other people. I managed to squeeze enjoyment out of all games that my dad got me.

  24. Premium User Badge

    particlese says:

    Makes me happy to see OMF2097 fondly remembered by so many.

    My only knowledge of Rise of the Robots previous to this article was that seeing its name always got me excited for a split second that I’d found something about Rise of the Triad.

  25. KDR_11k says:

    I somehow remember this having only like 3 fighters or so, I guess that was wrong?

  26. Optimaximal says:

    John, what did you give Force Commander in your PC Gamer review?

  27. spectone says:

    I just read an old review of this in Edge the other day they scored it 2 out of 10.

  28. Spacewalk says:

    Yeah I got tricked by it too but it was pirated so I didn’t suffer much. I got doubly tricked by Shaq Fu though, I actually badgered my mum for that one.

  29. Premium User Badge

    Harlander says:

    I came here to see people saying “yeah but One Must Fall: 2097 was great”, and I wasn’t disappointed.

    Did anyone play the sequel?

  30. GeoX says:

    I just want to note that if you follow the link to the novelization on amazon, you can read a self-deprecating “review” from the author. Fun times.

  31. vorador says:

    Man, a blast from the past.

    What as disaster Rise of the Robots was. Millions of marketing and the game was a complete and absolute turd. I think the only thing that made everyone forget about that disaster was Daikatana. And in comparison Daikatana was much better because it was almost fun at times, unlike ROR.

    They even made a sequel, but nobody wanted to get near it anymore. Lesson learned.

  32. Glentoran says:

    easily one of the worst games in the history of the gaming industry. It was a joke, and Amiga Power- who famously always said NO to freebies in exchange for good scores, and used the whole 100% range available- hit the nail on the head with this abomination.

  33. Premium User Badge

    MOOncalF says:

    Never did get to play the original, but I own the sequel and while I haven’t played it in forever I remember enjoying it. Thing is I wasn’t really into fighters, so I imagine I wasn’t comparing it to Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter or anything else, I was in my own little RoR world being happy to be a robot fist fighting other robots.

  34. pabrams says:

    “Perfect 5%” what the fuck are you talking about? Do you have brain damage?