Solatorobo DS review In Japanese, 'Solatorobo' means 'Sky and Robot', which is an endearingly literal description of the two main themes in this game. You play as a chap called Red, who rides around using an airship in the sky and a battle-robot on the ground.
Solatorobo: Red The Hunter takes place in a world populated by humanoid dogs and cats with Red himself bearing the closest resemblance to a fox..It's certainly a bizarre setting but it's also a wonderfully unique one. It's also beautifully drawn and in all our years of playing games, we've never seen anything quite like it.
Red is a bounty hunter working with his sister, Chocolat, who pilots their airship. A mission to retrieve a secret document from a huge airship called the Hindenburg results in the discovery of a magic medallion and the rescue of a mysterious young cat-girl as well as the entire ship going up in billowing flames.
You never really know what to expect as Solatorobo keeps throwing random new ideas at you. A quarter of the way through, for example, your robot suddenly gains the ability to fly, letting you take part in aerial races with Mario Kart-like items. Hours and hours later you discover fishing, a meaty sub-game in which you chase giant hermit-crabs through the sky before skewering them with a harpoon.
It's only right at the end of the game that Red discovers his neat ability to transform into a super-powered human during battles. But then you find out that there's a whole second story to play through, which is also full of new ideas. The downside of all this, though, is that it takes a while to warm up - the first few hours really don't show what it's capable of.
You'll spend most of the time flying from sky-island to sky-island in the airship and landing in towns, each with their own selections of quests and characters. Each area has its own distinctive look and personality, which gives the game a real sense of place - there's an enormous, pearlescent metropolis that you encounter at the start of the second story; a verdant, bug-infested island whose inhabitants travel around on the backs of giant ladybirds; and a town that's inexplicably full of Canadians.
Do The Fox-Plot
The meat of the game comes from taking on quests for the locals - five-minute tasks that range from item-collecting and battling to defending airships from pirates and cute little detective stories. Quests will improve your Hunter Rank and level you up.
The story is one of Solatorobo's strengths. It's not so much the actual plot, which is largely predictable in the first half and goes completely crazy in the second, but the characters, who are an appealing band of optimistic youngsters. Red himself is a cocksure chap, but likeable nonetheless, and the baddies are enjoyably cartoonish. There's a lot of text to be read, though - quests are interspersed with minutes of written banter, and there's so much of this that it can become really tiresome.
On the ground, you stomp around on a robot called Dahak, a big orange robo that has massive arms. You fight other robots by picking them up and throwing them onto the ground, catching them again on the rebound to chain combo attacks, or by snatching their missiles out of the air and lobbing them back.
Once you've grabbed hold of something, you hit the A button to lift it up with your mighty robotic limbs. It's a simplistic but surprisingly enjoyable combat system, although it does get a bit old by the end of the first story. So it helps to refresh things when special moves and transformations open up in the second story.