Robots. Violence. Science. What else would anyone need to make a fun video game?
Second Fiction has taken the fan favorite Atomic Robo comic and turned it into a game with just those ingredients. If you’ve never heard of Atomic Robo, that’s alright. He’s not exactly a household name. At least not yet. Written by Brian Clevinger with art by Scott Wegener, Atomic Robo is a hilarious action adventure comic series from Red 5 Comics that tells the story of a very human acting robot built by Nikola Tesla in 1923. Throughout the last century, he battles evil with a team of Action-Scientists. So it makes complete sense that they’d make a game featuring the character. Wouldn’t you?! And it doesn’t take long to understand why they’ve called the game “Violent Science.”
Once you start playing Atomic Robo’s Violent Science game for the iOS, it’s tough to stop. Done in the style of a classic side scrolling platformer, this is literally a game that doesn’t stop moving. Set against a plot pulled out of Atomic Robo’s comic book adventures, you (as Atomic Robo) are being pursued by his arch-enemy Helsingard in yet another of his monstrous robotic bodies. The challenge is simple: keep moving and don’t let Helsingard catch up to you. You don’t have much choice in the moving part, as the game doesn’t let you stop moving at any time. You make all your decisions on the fly. As you jump and body slam various obstacles, collecting power-ups and gears (used to upgrade your offensive and defensive capabilities), you do everything in your power to avoid Helsingard’s deadly touch. One hesitation or collision puts Helsingard on top of you and the race is over. You can try to power through at top speed, you can attempt to collect all of the items in the level, or you can try to do both, but regardless of what you choose, this game is a merciless taskmaster.
I played some levels nearly 100 times (possibly more, but maybe I suck at mobile games) before I defeated them by a hair’s breadth (level 3.3 is especially tough). Don’t even attempt the later levels unless you have upgraded yourself in some way (hint: play the easy but very quick, zig-zaggy level 3.2 over and over to collect as many gears as you can to upgrade before taking on level 3.3). The game may appear to be pretty simple both in design and challenge at the beginning, but it ramps up quickly through the 15+ levels, leaving you with the realization that multiple attempts on each level are the only way you’ll learn how to beat it, as setting a rhythm and timing things just right are everything when it comes to beating this game.
Also, there’s a story going on in word balloons at the top of the screen while you’re running for your life, loosely based on the Atomic Robo: Last Stop animated short film that’s due to be released in May 2013. I often have no idea what they’re saying until I get killed, and even then I only got part of the story. If you’re an Atomic Robo fan, you’ll want to pay attention, but if you’re just playing for fun, it isn’t necessary to read everything to enjoy the game. However, the snappy patter between Robo and his handlers sometimes leave clues about challenges that are up ahead, so ignore them at your own peril.
All told, Violent Science is one of those quick, fun play-on-the-go type games that you’ll find hard to put down, but will come back to quickly when you get a free moment, just to punch through a few more levels (or attempts at them) before the real world beckons once again. The animation and controls are smooth and clear, though the focus is occasionally pulled away from you whenever Helsingard gets close, which can be a bit disorienting, leading to a quick and unexpected death. As expected, there are no limit on lives. You’re just given infinite opportunities to accomplish your goals however you like, for points, for time, for power-ups, for whatever.
For fans of the Atomic Robo comic series, this is a must-have game. For those who have no idea who he is (hint: he doesn’t exist in the same worlds as Iron Man or Batman), this is a great introduction to an immensely clever and entertaining comic series that’s worth checking out.
You can download Atomic Robo “Violent Science” from Second Fiction games for iOS right now and should be available for Windows 8 and Android devices soon.
The Atomic Robo comic series is available wherever great comics are sold.