I remember watching Voltron when I was young thinking that I would love to be Voltron. How cool would it be to actually get to fight as Voltron and have all those powers? Well, when Voltron: Defender of the Universe was announced I have kept a sharp eye on the game and when I started reviewing it, it wasn’t exactly what I thought it was going to be.
Voltron is an interesting title that has mixtures of gameplay and changes in scenery. Now in most games this is a good thing, but this time it just doesn’t do the job. You pick one of the Lions that ultimately form up to make Voltron. Now, all the Lions have their own stats. Some Lions do more damage and others may have better agility. I personally seen no difference in the Lions other than a unique ability that is assigned to each one. They all fight, move and jump the exact same way. Maybe this comes more into effect in the 5 player co-op mode, but not in the single player at all. The core of most of the game is to simply run around on a very linear path to the end of each level completing mini objectives along the way. You control with your left stick and can shoot 360 degrees with the right stick. Right trigger will give you a super jump and left trigger will deploy your special ability that is powered by how many star pieces you collect through the level. Sometimes your Lion may get damaged and you’ll go out on foot in Survival mode that last about 10 seconds. This is the core gameplay, the funny thing about it is you here no mention of Voltron.
The interesting thing about the game is that it has taken several clips from actual episodes and used them as the cinematic glory that is the story of the game. Even Peter Cullen’s narration the game makes for good times. For example when you hit the pause button, you’ll hear Cullen saying “Voltron will be back after these messages” when you un-pause you hear “Now back to Voltron”. Now I point this out as this may be the most intriguing features to fans of the series as the rest of the game may come as a disappointment. Back to the gameplay. Each level has around three to four stages that you go through. You may fly your Lion through space or just continue to run around shooting things at random and picking up the occasional power up that you might find from time to time, but that’s about the whole of the game. Notice, I’ve still said nothing of Voltron?
After you beat each stage and reach the final stage you finally get to be Voltron, if you want to call it that. Your Lions form together letting you move the left trigger left or right to make you feel involved, and them BAM! your Voltron, and now you get to have a turn based battle? Yeah, a turn based battle. You stand there as Voltron hitting x to avoid and attack and then you may hit up and X to attack. Then after your simplistic boss fight, you go right back to playing, you guessed it a Lion. You do this the whole game and you only use Voltron a total of may be three times.
I will say that the graphics look okay for a XBLA title of an obscure 80’s cartoon, and for that matter the sound is pretty decent too. The issue I have is what’s the point of having the cool cinematics that are literally clips from the show, a game that looks great and sounds good too, but not feature the title character of the game except for 10% of it? Needless to say that graphics and sound have never made a game a good purchase or play, and Voltron is by no means an exception.
Developers Behavior and publisher THQ really dropped the ball as far a fan service. The game maybe a good game choice for someone who is new to the franchise, but as a fan Voltron is a tremendous let down. For 800 MSP the game is a risky buy, but the core of the game needs to be focused on Voltron and not the Lions. The $10 you may spend on the game is worth the money if for no other reason than the attractive 5 player co-op. This is one of those games I would suggest a trial before download because with Voltron: Defender of the Universe It could go anyway from hate to love to mediocre at best. Play the trial!