Legend of the Golden Robot
Grab your shovel, sharpen your sword and get ready to have your debilitating case of gold fever cured, because it's time to do some treasure hunting. You won't even have to experience the back breaking labor or the legal and moral grey areas that come with excavating artifacts. Thanks to the Bad Viking team, which consists of Rob Donkin, robotJAM and Cathy McBurney, and their new RPG/minesweeper-treasure-hunting game The Legend of the Golden Robot
To start treasure hunting, head to one of the 21 different areas. Each area is a grid and you have 24 hours to explore it. The first thing to do is to pick a square and dig, which takes a certain amount of time depending on the type of shovel you have equipped and the type of terrain you're digging up. Treasure hunting has a strong Minesweeper-type mechanic. After you dig, there will be a number in the corner of the square you just dug up. The number tells you how many of the surrounding squares have treasure in them. If you look in the lower right hand corner you'll see a gauge that lets you know how many treasures you've found and how many are left to find on the grid.
Don't think you'll just be allowed to traipse around, digging holes and looking for shiny objects. Each area has enemies moving around and if you and an enemy land on the same square you'll have to fight. In battle you'll go face-to-face with one enemy in a turn-based battle. There's two important stats to watch during battle: health and stamina, if you want to attack you'll need to have enough stamina to perform the action. In a fight you'll have four options: attack, defend, rage (a more powerful attack that uses twice the stamina of a normal attack) and build-up (a powerful attack that takes two turns to execute). There are also special attacks that can deal damage, heal yourself or give you a speed boost, but you need to find special treasures and equip them to be able to use them. Finally, you can find buddies through out the game, usually by defeating special enemies. Buddies are little sidekicks who will deal damage or perform some special action during combat. If you happen to die in battle, don't worry, because you'll have a chance to outrun death (literally) by playing a short, easy mini-game where you have to type the letters above your character's head. You'll be taken back to the beginning of the day and any treasure collected will be undone.
A person can't spend all their time adventuring, so get cozy with the village that serves as your home base. When you level, here's where you'll distribute your three skill points between the six different stats. You'll also be able to change your equipment and buy things from the store. Not everything is available from the start, but as you level up and find more treasure more items will be unlocked. Not all the items at the store is equippable, some of items, such as the hedge clippers, are needed to access certain areas. In the village tavern you'll find a few mini-games. One is a shuffleboard-type game where you can win some money and the other is a dice game where you can win some XP, but more importantly, you'll also get told where a certain treasure is.
Analysis: If you played Bad Viking's previous game Toxers, then a lot of The Legend of the Golden Robot will seem familiar. I thought Toxers was a good game, but it definitely had its flaws. Thankfully, The Legend of the Golden Robot goes a long way in fixing some of those problems.
It would be easy for a game like this to get tedious, but a couple of things keep that from happening. The most simple is that the concept is just plain fun. Who doesn't like the idea of hunting for treasure? When you throw in the Minesweeper-style gameplay it becomes even better. Even if you keep coming up empty in your excavation it just strengthens the urge to find that treasure. This feeling doesn't wane, either; if anything it becomes more addicting the closer you get to the end. What makes this more interesting is that aside from netting you some money the treasure doesn't do very much. Still, when you find one of the major treasures it feels like a success.
The Legend of the Golden Robot can be played a few different ways. You can search for every treasure and progress through all the different areas or you can specifically hunt down the pieces of the Golden Robot to get through the game quickly. This is great if you like the game, but you find it getting stale or if you want more of a challenge. The game isn't very hard, but it's not necessarily easy. I died a fair number of times while I was playing, but it wasn't ever frustrating. It has this weird indefinable difficulty that works well, but some people might want a harder game.
It's not a perfect game. The weakest element is combat. It's not really Bad Viking's fault, because it can be hard to make old school, turn-based RPG combat compelling these days. In The Legend of the Golden Robot, you'll find yourself hitting one button over and over again. if you run out of stamina, you'll have to hit a different button, but there's not a lot of variety. That said, I did find myself in some tense situations, especially against some of the unique enemies. When both the enemy and I were low on health I became absorbed in the battle. Will I luck out and survive or will the enemy get me? Will my buddy jump in and save my skin? Will I get that crucial extra turn? In those moments the combat system was awesome.
The Legend of the Golden Robot is a great game. Its problems are few and despite them the game is incredibly addicting and fun. It's becoming clear that Bad Viking can make great games and they're learning and improving with each one.