North America

Custom Robo Arena

by Jonathan Metts - March 8, 2007, 7:42 am PST
Total comments: 6

Pokemon meets The Terminator.

The Custom Robo series has been around since the days of Nintendo 64, but only a couple of the games were ever brought to America. One more joins the ranks this spring, with Custom Robo Arena coming to DS. The game combines robot building and battling with a Pokemon-style RPG, complete with collecting aspects. It also features support for Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, including voice chat, still an uncommon and highly desirable feature.

In the strange world of Custom Robo, people use tiny robots to do all sorts of tasks. They also like to customize their robots with different weapons and face them off in tournaments, like a nerdy version of The Fast and the Furious. In the game's story mode, you play as a young boy learning to build up his robot. The adventuring gameplay uses anime-style 2D graphics and looks much like the Pokemon RPGs, as you walk around and talk to people and solve their problems. Eventually you enter the Custom Robo championship and foil the plans of some villains who want to use their souped-up robots to commit crimes. Between battles, you explore towns, collect new parts, and redesign your robot buddy.

Battles are the real meat of the game and take place in real-time within small arenas. The action is displayed in 3D on the top screen of the DS, while status information is down on the touch screen. Success in battle depends not only on your playing skills but also on how well you have designed your robot to match up against the opponent. The hundreds of customizable parts include various guns, bombs, and pods; the latter are tiny helper robots that hover near the main robot and help out in various ways, much like the "options" in Gradius. There are also many choices for body frames and legs, which affect the robot's speed and mobility. Over the course of battle, your robot will get dirty and its performance will degrade as a consequence. By collecting various cloths and using them to clean your robot (with the stylus, of course), you can keep it in top form.

As mentioned above, online play with voice chat is a major feature of this game, but you can play locally too. Both multi-card and download play are supported; presumably, your friends can use pre-constructed robots in the latter case, since they won't have their own custom designs. An additional and very weird multiplayer feature lets you trade dioramas with friends. These objects are like animated puppet stages, complete with music, on which you can pose your robot and play make-believe. So…there's that.

The Custom Robo series has never really taken off in America, but Arena for DS may change that with its Pokemon-style single player mode and extensive multiplayer features.


Hey, no comments? This is our first preview in about three months! First of many, I might add.

CericMarch 09, 2007

I think this would be cool if it was real life. As it stands I think I might rent this one.

KDR_11kMarch 09, 2007

I'll get it provided they don't mess it up or fail to release it in Europe (though importing is still an option then), both of which happened to the GC game.

Link LinkMarch 10, 2007

I always wanted to try out the Custom Robo game for the Cube but never got around to it. Then it disappeared from the rental shelves. I also thought about just buying it but there was always something else I wanted and then it disappeared again. So, I don't want to make that mistake again but I'm also not sure of what the actual games are like.

Reading this preview has given me some high hopes for this game as it sounds really impressive and I can't remember the GameCube games description sounding this good. I've been paying attention to this game ever since I missed out on the GameCube version and it's warming me up to this series more and more.

And if you were looking for some validation, job well done. Really.

KDR_11kMarch 10, 2007

The GC version is supposedly the worst game in the series.

I wonder how it plays in the battle. Is it like Higurashi Daybreak? I know that game uses a derived gameplay but the other games using it are on consoles and lack downloadable demos. AFAIK it goes back to Virtual On.

Donkguy KongMarch 10, 2007

Well, I only played the GC version, and I went entirely through the story, and it wasn't too bad, then I tried two player, and it was nothing special.
Then, i brought it to a party, and it was basically the game of the night, amongst a whole lot of gamers who hadn't played it before, when playing in 4 player free-for-all. Since this has online play, it should be good.

Edit: I just noticed that there were only 2 player matches in the video, so I'm not sure if that will be as fun.

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Custom Robo Arena Box Art

Genre Action
Developer NOISE
Players1 - 2
Online1 - 2

Worldwide Releases

na: Custom Robo Arena
Release Mar 19, 2007
RatingEveryone 10+
jpn: Custom Robo Rumble
Release Oct 19, 2006
RatingAll Ages
eu: Custom Robo Arena
Release May 25, 2007
aus: Custom Robo Arena
Release Sep 20, 2007

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