Review: Voltron iPhone App — Megathrusters GO!

Geek Culture

Voltron main menuVoltron main menu

Here’s a quick test to see if you’d enjoy the Voltron iPhone game: Do the phrases “Activate interlock!” and “Form feet and legs!” invoke feelings of nostalgia, and can you recite the next lines? If so, I can virtually guarantee this game is for you; if not, you’ll probably still enjoy it.

I loved the Voltron TV show when I was young. I was old enough to recognize that the plot was always pretty much the same in each episode, and to notice that it looked a little odd when characters would talk because only their mouths would move. When I say I loved Voltron, I mean of course that I loved the Lion Force version, because the Vehicle version was just not as good: there were too many characters to keep track of, and, let’s face it, a giant robot with lion heads for hands and feet is much cooler than one with cars and such. I never understood why nobody ever made a Voltron video game — I mean, it seemed like such an obvious idea.

lion missionlion missionBut now, with the 25th anniversary of the show’s creation, a video game has finally appeared, and the good news is that it’s a mobile game, and that it’s really well-done. First, the game makers were smart enough to include some of the actual animation from the show, so when the game starts up and bookending each Robeast challenge, you’ll get a clip that will, if you’re anything like me, cause you to grin like a little kid. You can skip these cut scenes, but I can’t imagine why you’d want to.

The game plays like a series of episodes: In each “act” there are five “stages,” one for each lion, and then there’s a Robeast challenge. There’s written dialogue in each stage, which is just cheesy enough that it might actually have come straight from the show. There is some audio speech as well, mostly in the form of encouragement from the characters (e.g., Hunk saying “All right, there’s a job to be done. Let’s do it!”). There is a definite story arc through each act, and an overall arc as well; for instance, you start the game with Sven piloting the blue lion, which should provide some foreshadowing to anyone who watched the show as much as I did.

robeast challengerobeast challengeThe game mechanics are very straightforward and easy to master: You have a set of four arrows on the left side of the screen which control the movement of the lion, and three action buttons that will fire a missile, use the lion’s paw to hit something or swat away an enemy missile, or invoke the lion’s special power. Each lion has a unique special power, which provides a nice distinction between the missions. In the Robeast challenges, you are of course playing Voltron as a whole, sword and all, so your available actions are to strike the Robeast (in two different ways), duck or shield against its attacks, or do a special attack once you build up energy to do it. Once you’ve defeated a Robeast, it will unlock in the “Zarkon Arena,” which you can access from the game’s main menu, allowing you to fight as the Robeasts themselves against one-another. There are also quite a few “achievements” you can unlock throughout the game, and the game even has Facebook integration should you want to boast about it to your friends.

The Voltron game for the iPhone / iPod Touch is $3.99 on the iTunes app store, and well worth the price. It’s a lot of fun for those of us who remember the show fondly, and for many of those who’ve never seen it at all — I let my kids play it a number of times, and they had a blast, too, despite having virtually no idea what the story was about.

Wired: A well-crafted game that’s both easy and fun to play. And the way it evokes the world of the old TV show made me grin every time I played it.

Tired: It would be nice if you could have more than one game going at a time. As it is, while you can go back and replay old missions, you can’t start the game fresh without wiping out all progress that’s been made. This makes it very difficult for two or more people to share the game on a given device.

(All screenshots are copyright Sony Pictures Television. I was not given a free copy of the game.)

A trailer for the game is included after the jump.

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