Kids today have such better toys than we grew up with, don’t they? Since you’re reading this, the odds are you grew up playing with Rock’em Sock’em Robots — or, even if not, you probably know what they are. Remember how cool it was to make two little robots beat each other up until one knocked the other’s head off? And remember being frustrated by the fact that the robots couldn’t actually move except to punch?
Well, prepared to be jealous of your kids again, because Battroborg, coming to stores in August from TOMY, is exactly what you wanted out of that old game. Put simply, players control little robots remotely, move them around an arena, and make them punch each other in the head until only one is left standing.
Of course, there’s more to Battroborg than that. There are eight different robots to pick from, each with its own design and (fictional) special attacks and defenses. Fights can include anywhere from two to ten Battroborgs, and the arena that comes in the starter kit has elastic ropes (similar in appearance to those of a boxing ring) that are configurable, so that you can adjust the available fighting space to accommodate different numbers of participants.
Battroborgs are on two feet, with wheels extending behind for movement and to avoid making them too easy to topple. Players control their robots by use of nunchuck-style remotes. There is no joystick to control movement: you simply “punch” with each end of the controller, which both punches with the appropriate hand and moves the robot forward with the same motion. This makes it very easy to just pick up the remote and use it, but I do have to say that it makes turning the robots around when they get stuck up against the ropes difficult and definitely unintuitive — I kept wishing for a “reverse” function, but there isn’t one.
So, using the controllers, the players simply move their robots around the arena, and punch at the heads of the other robots. A light on each robot’s backpack registers hits and keeps track of its health — when it turns red, the robot gets pretty much one more hit and then it will simply stop responding to the controller. If you time your punches right, you can use them for defense, but in practice (in playing with my kids, that is), you just try to get up close and then shake the ends of the controller as hard as you can.
In using Battroborg, I was very impressed with the design of the controllers. First, each controller can work with any robot — you simply pair them one at a time. Second, the controllers (which take normal batteries) also function as chargers for the robots themselves: you simply plug them in and leave them for 20 minutes to get 20-30 minutes of continuous play time.
Apart from the difficulty in turning around — my kids and I occasionally managed it with the controllers, but most often got frustrated and simply picked the robots up and turned them around manually — I only had a few quibbles with Battroborg. I wished that body blows could have also registered as hits, though maybe not quite as “big” hits as head shots, but there’s only so much technology you can pack into a robot that small. And, when turning them around manually, touching the robot’s head was too often liable to register a hit as though it had been punched.
But those are pretty minor. My kids (ages 12 and 10) have been asking to play with the Battroborg set every day since it arrived, and haven’t tired of it very quickly when we’ve played. And I’ve enjoyed playing with it with my kids, too, even if doing so does make me wish I could go back in time to give the set to my 10-year-old self, who had much less difficulty getting off the floor than my 40-year-old self does.
Battroborg, from TOMY, is scheduled to hit store shelves this August. Starter kits will have a retail price of $79.99. I think this could be a hot toy for the holiday season, and I highly recommend it.
Images (except as noted) via TOMY; used with permission.