To be completely honest, I’d never heard of Solatorobo before I was lucky enough to pick up this game for review. Its name, when translated, breaks down to “Sky and Robot” and is tagged as “Robot-Human Double Action!”. The game is a sequel to the RPG Tail Concerto, which quietly graced the PSOne many years ago. Although I’ve not played Tail Concerto, if it’s anything like Solatrobo, then it’s a nice little, carefully designed and beautifully fun treat.
The game stars a sky-pirate fox-dog, which rides around on Dahak, his robotic acquaintance, from floating island to floating island. The inhabitants of each floating island seem to be some kind of weird, cuddly yet alien cats and dogs, who speak the French language. Bizarre I know, but strangely compelling.
Solatorobo’s plot involves a huge whirl of magical objects, mystery orphans and a hidden evil force, obviously, the evil force being the most important part of the story. Much like the average Japanese RPG game, Solatrobo has a lot of dialogue, it might sound like an annoyance but it really is vital to the story, after all, you wouldn’t know what to do if you didn’t read the dialogue. The one problem I have with the dialogue is that it rolls a little too slowly, at times it seems like it’s going at a child’s pace.
As you’ll probably expect from a game of this type, there’s a great number of quests for you to take whenever you feel ready to tackle them, and you can procrastinate and wander the lands to your heart’s content. The most interesting thing about Solatrobo is its robot combat system, it involves a great deal of throwing objects, hefty blows and more alternative attacks.
You can hop off your robot friend whenever you like, wandering on foot and solving a small number of simple puzzles and side-quests within a number of groovy environments. The dungeons are by far the most fun though, although they could have been developed further, as the majority of the game requires you to be on your robot acquaintance, Dahak. The coolest thing about your favourite robotic best-friend is its upgradability. As I’m sure you’ll agree, upgradable robots are always fun, and while you’ll have to wait until at least two-thirds of the way through the game to really be able to do some serious tinkering, when your new Dahak models and forms unlock it is so worth the wait.
Solatrobo’s gameworld is a pretty impressive feature, incorporating its cute Japanese characters with an eye-pleasing 2.5D artistic style, full of cartoon-shading and quirky character appearances. All of the locations found in Solatrobo also have their own unique and quirky signature style, with fairytale-like surroundings and objects being the norm.
The game’s many quests and side-quests are all beautifully detailed and carefully designed, and the attention to detail really shows. Where else would you participate in the extraordinary activity of sky-fishing, a sport which sees your character chasing island-sized hermit crabs as they jump through the clouds in the sky with a single, giant harpoon? Getting back onto the subject of quests, there’s a huge number for you to spend your precious time on: arena battles, photograph collecting side-quests, assorted errands, baddie-slaying shenanigans and air-racing competitions.
Much like most games in the JRPG genre, Solatorobo provides the player with a considerably lengthy life span, with each quest taking up hours of your time, and with the vast gameworld requiring the most in-depth of explorers to find everything. The main problem, however, is that the game never really gets challenging. For example, I never actually lost a life during my extensive time with this title, and I wasn’t particularly boggled when solving a puzzle or quest either. Regardless of that fact, Solatorobo really is a joy to play, and while it’s pretty slow to start with, you’ll eventually find yourself immersed in a detailed world full of eccentric objects, lifeforms and puzzles. Solatorobo is a unique and new take on the RPG genre and if you decide to take the plunge with this title, I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo 3DS code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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