Format: Super Nintendo
Genre: Platform Shooter
Region Reviewed: PAL
Year of Release: 1993 (pal)
Reviewer: Nintendo Recall
A lot of my game purchases when I was a young lad were dictated, not by reviews or reputation, but by the price of the game. When I hear complaints today of how expensive games are I can’t help but laugh to myself. The average cost of a game in 1993 for the SNES was approximately £39.99; adjusted for inflation that amounts to £69 pounds in today’s money! Taking it one step further, when Street Fighter 2 was originally released in 1992 it came with the quite ridiculous R.R.P of £75 which is £131 today! I was a 12 year old with no job, so my purchases had to be made on this cost basis. The more expensive and popular games were saved for Christmas and Birthdays if I was lucky.
I touched on this point in my Addams Family review and the same selection process applied to me picking up B.O.B from W.H. Smith in Salisbury on a random Saturday in September of 1993. I hadn’t read any reviews or seen any advertisement for the game but that yellow £29.99 sticker hooked me like a fish on a line. I certainly didn’t know if the game was going to be a classic or a complete turkey but I guess you pay your pounds and you take your chance.
B.O.B was developed by Gray Matter Inc who were also responsible for the terrible Waynes World game. Luckily they produced a superior effort with B.O.B. Electronic Arts published the game with its release coming just one month after they had become synonymous for FIFA Soccer.
The story for the game is as follows; B.O.B (who can best be described as robot ant) borrows his Dad’s car to pick up a hot date and after a stern lecture from his elder, sets off on his journey into space. However, disaster strikes and the car hits an asteroid which completely wrecks it and strands B.O.B on a hostile alien planet. Now he has to negotiate his way through 45 levels full of metal hungry enemies who see B.O.B as there next meal. In addition to this he needs to find another car, and be home by 11 or else he never gets to drive again!!
The game is a side scrolling shoot ‘em up with each level an area on the surface of the planet which B.O.B has crash landed on. There is an overhead map section which appears between levels and tracks B.O.B’s progress. Whilst some of the levels are not particularly long you are only given between 3 and 5 minutes to complete each one so there really isn’t much room for slacking and once that time limit runs out, you’re scrap metal. The level designs are varied with obstacles to avoid and many elevated sections, accessible by ladders, hanging rails, and elevators.
B.O.B has access to a range of weaponry which includes your starter single shot gun, a scatter shot, flame thrower, heat seeking missiles and a sonic wave gun. You can change between your weapons easily by using the trigger buttons on the SNES pad. In addition to the guns there are speciality items/power ups known as ‘remotes’ which provide B.O.B with abilities such as trampoline, helicopter and umbrella. The remotes allow B.O.B to reach certain parts of the levels which would have otherwise been difficult or impossible to reach. Enemies in the game have a different number of lives before they die so it can be beneficial to tailor your attack accordingly. All of this adds an element of strategy to the game which makes it more that just running and gunning. If you run out of ammo or are trying to conserve it for the big bosses then no problem, B.O.B can simply punch the crap out of them instead with his big metallic fist!
You are given an energy meter rather than hit points and this is generously filled making the earlier levels a breeze. As you get further into the game however you will find your energy depleting quickly as the difficulty increases sharply! There is a password system in the game and these are dished out in moderate intervals. It avoids having to play for long sessions just so you can save your progress, however whilst it will save your physical progress it will not save your accumulated weapons and power ups, which is frustrating.
The graphics are nice and vibrant with a cartoony feel, if not a little simplistic. Some of B.O.B’s animations can be a little wooden and stiff such as his running and jumping whilst others can look rather detailed such as when BOB hangs on to an over head railing - you can see his individual fingers moving him along. The control system is very fluid and smooth, barring a few hit detection issues.
The only word to describe the music is ‘funky’ (the Japenese Title for the game was Space Funky B.O.B.) but it can be very repetitive. You will either really dig the music or it will grate on you extremely quickly! I confess that I found myself nodding along to a few of the tunes and it never really bothered me that I was listening to the same tunes over and over again. It reminded me of Toe Jam and Earl. The sound effects are simple but satisfying and both these and the music fit with the light hearted theme of the game. The developers avoided (or perhaps didn’t have the time or technology for it) adding digitised voice for B.O.B and instead had him speaking through speech bubbles. Amusing stuff.
Whilst I have reviewed the SNES version of the game, it also appeared in an identical format on the Mega Drive and in 2006 it was released on the PSP as part of EA Replay, introducing that metallic ant to a new generation of gamer. I hope they liked him.
Verdict:- This game would have unfortunately slipped under a lot of people’s radars on its original release and indeed if it hadn’t been for the price tag I may never have picked it up myself.
There is something charming about it which makes it fun to play despite its erratic difficulty level. The ‘remotes’ add a strategy element to the game however it is still at heart a simple shoot em up. There’s nothing wrong with that and I would definitely recommend giving it a go.
Just make sure you get B.O.B home by 11 or his dad will be p***ed!
Second Opinion:- Robots! Something about them just makes you warm to the character more than just another so-so Human. When said Robot has bags of charm it only adds to the need to care about it more.
B.O.B. has bags of great likeable elements about him. He is animated superbly and with tons of moves and cool looks it's almost impossible to not have fun playing this. Sure it's a by the numbers sort of platform adventure and yes it can be so damn annoying at times but it stands out. And in the 16-bit era that says a ton.
Transbot Scores:- 7 out of 10