Hands on with Custom Robo Arena on DS

Battle-ready customisable robots are on the loose but don't worry, they're only lickle

Hands on with Custom Robo Arena on DS
| Custom Robo Arena

Telepathically-controlled nanotech robots on the rampage in a holographic battle arena sounds exactly like the sort of sci-fi plot that would make for an appalling B-movie starring Dennis Quaid.

Sensibly, Nintendo has eschewed the Hollywood route with Custom Robo Arena. Instead it's positioning the game to be one of a new wave of online multiplayer games playable over the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.

But first things first... to the robots.

As you might imagine from the word custom in the title, this is a game that offers you a wide range of possibilities.

In fact, Nintendo is promising that by the time you've unlocked all the items, millions of different Custom Robo combinations will be available, as you'll be able to fit out your robot using loads of different body frames, legs and weapons to create your desired combination of attack, speed and defensive abilities.

The armoury looks well-stocked too, with guns of different ranges and effects, a bomb launcher, which fires a variety of bombs, and special pod weapons, such as homing missiles and proximity traps that only explode when the enemy approaches them.

Playable for the first time at E3, the action itself takes place in various small, colourful arenas, which you and your opponent run, hide and jump around in, all the time trying to keep away from your rival's firepower while looking to bring the full force of your own to bear.

In many respects, the game plays like hardcore Japanese mecha favourite Virtual On, albeit without the madcap double joystick control method. At E3 though, we found it was still quite hard to get to grips with what was going on; hopefully, the controls are designed to become more intuitive the longer you play the game. Another nagging issue was the default widescreen camera view, which didn't really clarify the action. You could fiddle around and change this to a more focused view, however.

When you're not fighting, the game moves forward a single-player storyline, where you strut around a futuristic city environment with your Robo-battling chum Saki, slowly working your way up the Custom Robo championship ladder.

But it's in the arenas where the main action takes place, in both single- and multiplayer modes. You can only fight one other Robo at a time, so when it comes to multiplayer you'll be able to go head-to-head using the local wi-fi mode – or the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection – either in multi-card or download modes.

Still getting its chrome grills polished, Custom Robo Arena is expected to be released towards the end of the year.