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Available on

PSN!

 

Platform

Playstation 3

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

THQ

 

Developer

Behaviour Interactive

 

ESRB

E +10 (Everyone)

 

Released

November 29, 2011

 

 

- Provides a dose of both old-school gameplay and nostalgia that 40something gamers will find especially enjoyable
- Although can get a bit too frenzied at times from all the lions and enemies shooting crazy amounts of gunfire all at once, the up-to-five-gamer multiplayer is extremely entertaining

 

 

- Takes only about two hours to complete all the missions
- Voltron turn-based brawls are too easy to win with minimal gamer involvement

 

 

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Voltron: Defender of the Universe

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

voltron defender of the universe         voltron defender of the universe

 

Transformers. ThunderCats. Star Blazers. Voltron: Defender of the Universe. Any guy that grew up in the 1980s and watched fantasy/sci-fi anime-style cartoons will most likely have watched one or more of these shows and have some sort of nostalgic memories connected to them.

Transformers made a huge leap into modern entertainment with a successful, moneymaking movie franchise and a tag-along series of videogames. Now, another

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one of those old-school cartoons has found its way into videogame form: the new budget-priced PSN downloadable Voltron: Defender of the Universe, which revels completely in its ’80s roots. The game uses footage from the original cartoon to weave a loosely tied together story.

But wow, is it really crappy animation.

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Although at the time viewers may have loved the anime-inspired animation, these cartoons definitely fall into one of those “I remember this being much more impressive back then than it really is when looking at it today” categories. As ugly as the cartoon is, though, the new game graphics are definitely better looking than the original cartoons ever were. Voltron: Defender of the Universe has three distinct game genres (top-down action, space shooter and turn-based mech fighting) that meld into a very short, not very tough, but satisfying gaming experience (especially with the up-to-5-player multiplayer gameplay) that’s definitely a nostalgic blast for the 40something gamer, and offers those who have no idea what a “Voltron” even is a good arcade shooter/brawler.

The storyline of Voltron: Defender of the Universe follows the adventures of five young, brave and daring Space Explorers who just happen to control five robot lions as universal defenders and fighters of the evil of King Zarkon and his minions. Zarkon is a badass, planet-invading tough guy, intent on taking over the entire known populated universe. It’s up to those Space Explorers, each with their own special-colored lion, to combine into the mighty mechanized robot warrior Voltron (one of each of the lions substitutes for Voltron’s head, arms and legs), usually in a episode-epic battle against another equally massive Zarkon-directed robot mech.

If that sounds familiar, that’s because it probably is. Basically, Voltron is what Mighty Morphin Power Rangers “borrowed” as its inspiration – and turned into its own little mega-popular television show/toy/movie juggernaut.

Main gameplay is a top-down shooter, as gamers select one of the five lions (a second player can join in co-op) and get unleashed on a planet terrain that is filled with Zarkon’s forces. Running through the landscape, gamers must shoot enemies (or a favorite of mine, lion-pouncing on flying foes and crashing them into the ground), building up their lion’s special power in the process that will be needed against the tougher enemies on the map. The lions and enemies are very miniscule on-screen, though. The gameplay is straight out of old-school top-down shooters. Each lion has its own special powers and attributes, and although it is noticeable to a degree, there’s not too much of a discernible advantage from one lion to the other, although the black lion seems to be the most balanced.

 

voltron defender of the universe          voltron defender of the universe

 

A second gameplay style is the space shooter, and Galaxian is the obvious comparison here, as the lion (or lions) soar into space and shoot waves of enemies while traveling to yet another planet needing to be lion-ized of its Zarkon threat.

Finally, the five lions combine into Voltron, and a turn-based, first-defense-then-offense showdown happens against a Zarkon robot warrior. Three completely different gameplay styles, all fun. But all are definitely too easy. The average gamer should be able to complete the entire gamut of single-player (or co-op, if playing with someone else) levels in 2.5 hours, at most. The turn-based brawler gameplay may be the easiest, requiring just a few timing-based flicks of the left PS3 thumbstick or button presses to win the battle. The hardest aspect is deciding what one of four specialized lion attacks to unleash against the opposing foe.

However, the saving grace from the entirely too brief solo (or co-op) gameplay (even for a budget-priced downloadable title it is incredibly short) is the solid multiplayer. If you can get five players into a multiplayer session at once, replaying selected levels from the single-player adventure, the gameplay is extremely fun and chaotic, with five lions blasting enemies that are in turn returning fire. Surprisingly it is easy to follow your own particular lion on-screen as the game focuses on the gamer’s controlled lion entirely instead of having it get lost in the mayhem.

It isn’t very long (in single-player or co-op) or difficult, but with a healthy heaping of ’80s nostalgia, old-school gameplay and robust modern multiplayer, Voltron: Defender of the Universe especially during cooperative multiplayer mayhem provides solid, budget-priced entertainment.

– Lee Cieniawa
lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(December 14, 2011)

 

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