Review: BIOMOTOR UNITRON (Nintendo Switch)
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This sci-fi, dungeon crawling RPG is a breath of fresh air. BIOMOTOR UNITRON is the rare Neo Geo Pocket Color game to arrive on the Nintendo Switch that isn’t a fighter. Even better, it’s a very good game.
The story deals with a meteor leaving a whole slew of crystals—with unlimited power—spread out across planet Elscea. These led to the development of combat robots (Unitrons), which helped end a war. But they don’t go to waste during times of peace; they are used in yearly tournaments.
The story doesn’t get expanded on much beyond the intro, but the tale doesn’t need a whole lot more. The various friendly characters in town add color, congratulating you on victories, and new ones are gradually introduced. It’s BIOMOTOR UNITRON’s gameplay that drives this title, and the hook will dictate how much you enjoy it.
You’ll soon find yourself in a groove, winning your first arena tournament and advancing through the dungeons. Eventually, the enemies will get too strong for you. This is where you return to town and make preparations.
You can shop for parts, visit the pub, and check out other areas familiar to players of dungeon crawlers. Still, it’s your friend who’s most pivotal, helping you upgrade your bot based on the money and items you collected during your dungeon crawling. Both are plentiful, although beware of empty chests. It’s fun developing new and more powerful parts for your bot, seeing previously formidable enemies topple with little difficulty. It’s a shame that trading for parts is disabled, although this is to be expected in a $7.99 eShop port. Your bot’s appearance changes accordingly as you acquire new parts and make further progress.
The dungeons are varied enough, with a forest dungeon made of trees, a watery cave on the sea floor, floating ruins in the sky, and more. You’ll gain sufficient experience as you battle the various enemies. Many have names ending in y (Spidey, Viney, Crabby, Beasty), but their designs make up for the lack of creativity in naming. They are fun to look at and rewarding to defeat.
Each dungeon has seven areas, which would probably be ideal except for the high encounter rate. While you can thankfully flee low-level enemies on the first few floors, there’s still much repetitive trekking, with no repel item as you’d see in a Pokemon game. At least randomization keeps these maze-like dungeons somewhat fresh, and the aesthetics are certainly an asset.
BIOMOTOR UNITRONS’s impressive art, vivid colors, engaging character designs, and nostalgic soundtrack all effectively combine to tap into its particular brand of nostalgia—late 90s handheld gaming. With the usual features of changing skins, filters, and amount of zoom, this game is sure to please older players or those with an appreciation of decades-old gaming.
It’s easy to see why this is a cult classic. BIOMOTOR UNITRON is a retro RPG done right. While it can be something of a grind, it offers more depth than you might think. And considering an original NGPC cart commands triple-digit pricing, this eShop release is a steal at only $7.99. So, if you’re a fan of dungeon crawlers, this sci-fi take shouldn’t be missed.