Solatorobo: Red the Hunter Review (DS)

Posted by Jim Cook, Oct 19, 2011 16:08

Solatorobo: Red the Hunter is an interesting example of just how important world and character design can be. Weighed solely by how it plays, Solatorobo is only a decent 3D adventure that is primarily a platformer but also mixes in several other styles of play; they’re all merely decent instead of great, but this game gets away with it because its world is presented in such a sincere and lively way that you’ll have fun regardless. Players enter the life of Red, the titular hero who owns a small airship in a world of floating islands. He takes on various odd jobs to get by, ranging from cleaning out warehouses to raiding military ships... and it’s the complications with the latter that eventually thrust him into a battle against those with ambitions who could very well destroy the world. That’s pretty stereotypical, but Red is a lovable rogue with a mostly good work ethic who just has rotten luck; it’s easy for players to sympathize with him.

Solatorobo: Red the Hunter (DS)At first glance, Solatorobo is somewhere between Metal Gear Solid, Mega Man Legends, and most recent Zelda games in style. Red and his somewhat giant robot (you’ll spend time in both) are given a camera system that follows them around but tries to keep the same perspective most of the time, giving it sort of a ’2D’ feel in a good way; it’s clearly a 3D world, but one where you’re usually given sympathetic angles and enough references to easily see where you need to move and jump, how to avoid attacks, and so on. Generally simple controls and extensive tutorials ensure you know how to play in short order, and the developers go to great lengths to make sure you know exactly what is going on at any time. Once you’ve got all this figured out, it’s easy to navigate the world and fight various enemies by either grabbing and throwing them or catching their attacks and returning them. Put more impressively, Red has no problem using his robot to catch an incoming missile and fling it back to whoever fired it.

While the usual flow of play has Red accepting a job and then going to the location for either a fight, a puzzle of the ’put these objects on these weight-sensitive switches or gather these items and bring them to your destination’ variety, or lengthy exploration segment that combines both of those factors, Solatorobo regularly mixes things up. Even fairly early on you’ll get other things to do, such as taking part in air races or putting your robot into flight mode to explore multiple small islands. Even when the camera perspective and controls change, they all prove easy to learn and provide some of the best parts of the game.

The game world itself deserves special note. If everything I’ve described above suggests Solatorobo is a very violent game (what with throwing missiles back at people or flinging them into walls), it’s actually not. Most of the characters in the story are cartoon-style animals (albeit ones who walk on two legs, speak, build things, and are otherwise like humans), and while the plot does contain some more serious elements as you get further in it rarely wanders into being outright ’dark.’ Similar to Mega Man Legends, this game has a very colorful world, lighthearted character designs, and upbeat music that stresses this is a fun adventure for the player that you can feel good playing. All of this is presented with a lot of enthusiasm, offering an obvious charm that is by far the best part of the game.

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Our Rating for Solatorobo: Red the Hunter Review (DS)
6.0 Replay
Despite the inclusion of some special modes, Solatorobo is fairly linear. Most of its replay value lies in finding various album style secrets such as music and photographs.
8.0 Graphics
An extremely detailed and interesting world is held back only by being on hardware that is starting to show its age. Camera angles are generally good in any of the game’s modes and it is easy to play as a result.
8.0 Sound
The music provides the right feel of an open, energetic adventure and is good enough that a soundtrack CD exists. It’s joined by very limited voice acting (not too surprising for a DS game) and basic but passable sound effects.
7.5 Gameplay
Using the d-pad for 3D movement seems odd at first, but works very well thanks to intuitive controls and good camera angles. The uneven pacing in oddly mandatory ’side quests’ along with fairly simple puzzles and fighting do bog things down a little, however.
0.0 Multiplayer/Online Content
Category unrated; multiplayer features such as wireless air races are present but require materials unavailable to the reviewer at time of writing and thus could not be tested.
8.0 Overall
A rare case of a game rising above its technical flaws to succeed on the strength of its presentation and being accessible to a wide audience, Solatorobo will win you over if given a chance.

Rating: 0.0, votes: 0

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