Atomic Robo-Kid is one of those old Genesis shooters you’ve probably never played. You’ll likely take a glance at the score I gave it and feel fortunate, and so you should. ABK is a side-view shooter, thus belonging to the subgenre I’m most enamoured of, and it boasts a ton of levels–18 to be precise. It’s unique in that it allows you to hover and move about in any direction, forcing the screen whichever way you choose as you barrel down maze-like pathways firing on robotic enemies. All of this represents ABK’s good side. Sadly, its bad side is considerably more prominent.
Where to begin? ABK’s faults read like a grocery list–of spoiled items. Your character, an annoyingly cute R2-D2 wannabe, is too large and clunky and slow. What this amounts to is having to drag your excruciatingly lethargic metallic carcass around until you manage to earn a speed up icon. Without one, you won’t stand a chance. To that point, allow me to fast forward to the site of the game’s supreme manifestation of this greatest flaw, a sticking point that is almost laughable in its hideousness.
If you’re motoring along well enough in level 17, blasting foes and navigating corridors, you’ll probably have earned yourself a speed up and be well equipped going into the final showdown with the Governor who represents your challenge at stage 18 (yes, bosses count as stages, and yes, they call bosses Governors). He will surely kill you on your first visit–despite the fact that all Governors behave the same way–because as you proceed, they get faster and larger, and so effectively take up more of the cramped ‘Governor’s Chambers’ where the fighting takes place.
It follows then, that finding room to breathe when you’re in there with the final guy seems an insuperable task at first. So you’ll die, and you’ll restart right at stage 18 to fight him (how thoughtful), without aid of a speed up (how… not thoughtful).
Cue system reset.
The best thing about this ‘bug’ is that it makes the uninspiring weapons, enemies, visuals, sound effects and music all seem negigible by comparison. (And yet, they probably would seem that way anyway.) The ugliness of the misstep makes it unnecessary to delve into detail when mentioning other, comparably charming annoyances such as the game’s unreliable hit detection and the silly robot-versus-robot bonus levels. And who could forget the pointless plot pieces that crop up as we thrill to the ever cute-cum-bad ass Robo-Kid, anticipating his next carbon copy Governor battle? Not I, try though I might! There are plenty old school Genesis shooter gems, and Atomic Robo-Kid most certainly is not one of them. You haven’t played it before have you?–keep it that way.