I used to think I had a knack for strategy games. Then I checked out RoboHero [Free], a turn-based tank puzzler from Bravado Waffle Studios. Now, I’m not so sure if I have the chops to handle a game of this difficulty. While the game incorporates relatively simple (and slow) gameplay, this is buttressed by a wide variety of weapons and puzzles, along with a difficulty that’ll either keep you coming back for more or giving up in frustration.

RoboHero places you in the role of Blue Robo, the last defense for Earth in its fight against an evil robot army. As a last resort, you’re sent to the robot ship in order to infiltrate and destroy all the forces. As you progress through the game’s story mode, you’ll unlock new weapons and face new enemies and obstacles. However, the goal of the game is always to either get to the other side of the level or take out a certain amount of enemies.

You’ll accomplish this by planning each move for Blue Robo 15 turns in advance. Every turn, movement, shot, and even weapon change counts as a turn. Once you’ve planned everything out, you hit the start button and your robo executes its actions while the surrounding environment (and enemy baddies) executes theirs. There’s a lot of timing, predicting, and planning involved with each set of turns, much more than I think most players are used to.

The game is also quite unforgiving with planning turns – mistiming a turn or shot can spell doom for that entire set of turns (or even worse, put you in a position to get destroyed). Also, you have to plan out 15 turns; if you try and start the round sooner, your robo will simply stand still for those turns you don't plan anything, effectively wasting precious moves.

RoboHero’s biggest strength is also its potentially biggest weakness. When all is said and done, this game is hard. You better have some pretty damn good timing and analytical skills if you want to completely finish this game by collecting all the level stars (three stars for each of the thirty missions).

Each level lets you earn up to three stars by accomplishing three different criteria. You can earn a star by collecting all the stars in a level, by keeping your health above a certain threshold, and by passing the level under a certain amount of turns (every individual action counts as a ‘turn’). Normally, I can do well enough to earn one of those at any one time, and if I tried pretty hard, I could probably handle both the health and collectible stars.

However, if you want to land all three, you’re going to have to do a lot of work analyzing your moves, the movements of your enemies, and creating the most streamlined route that takes out only the necessary enemies and gets you where you need to go without coming to harm. It’s an exercise in patience and planning that I rarely see in games these days.

It’s important to note that the difficulty is mostly restricted toward earning stars. In the case of simply wanting to pass a level, RoboHero is a little more forgiving, especially since Blue Robo has the ability to glimpse the future movement of the surrounding enemies and environment. However, you only have a limited amount of foresight, and it doesn’t really make it any easier to time some movement.

Regardless, later levels will still test both your reactive and puzzle solving senses. Annoyances such as the fact that you have to start over if you die make the later levels more annoying to complete (especially considering the latter half of the levels will take some time to actually run through and complete).

In addition to the Story Mode, RoboHero also features an Arena Mode and Multiplayer. I found Arena Mode far more enjoyable than the story mode, as you’re simply tossed into a small level with a bunch of other computer opponents with the sole purpose of kicking the crap out of everyone else. It’s very reminiscent of Bomberman and I think RoboHero does a great job capturing that frenetic feel in a turn based game.

Multiplayer is restricted to pass and play, which I think loses a lot of the excitement that might have occurred with Bluetooth or Wifi modes (asynchronous might have been interesting as well).  Thankfully, online multiplayer is supposedly on the horizon.

If you’re on the fence as to whether a game such a RoboHero is for you, here’s some good news: The game’s first ten levels (as well as Multiplayer and Arena) are offered for free, with IAP covering the other 20 story levels. In this regard, I suggest picking it up if you’re even remotely interested. Its slow, turn-based gameplay is a much different take than most tank games I’ve played on iOS, and it’s bound to turn some heads, but only for pretty hardcore puzzle or strategy fans.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Foofanagle Foofanagle

    Anyone who's played RoboRally will be familiar with this theme and the turn planning mechanic. I really admire Bravado Waffle for what they've put together. I bought it as soon as it was released and agree with the difficulty comment. The drone movement can be quite challenging to predict. But it's nice to see someone out there trying to create new and inventive iOS games for us. I just hope we see a true RoboRally iOS port soon from someone.

    • Anonymous

       I was just thinking this looked like a pretty cool take on doing a single player campaign for a Robo Rally type of game. Planning 5 moves ahead of time always seemed like enough of a challenge but maybe the fact that you're dealing with a repeating pattern is what prompted the change to 15 turns. 

       Either way I'll definitely be checking this out soon,

RoboHero Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 3.5