Push­ing The Lim­its: Robo­cop 3

The 16-bit ver­sion of Robo­cop 3 proved that movie adap­ta­tions needn’t be one-di­men­sional

Retro Gamer - - CONTENTS -

How this movie li­cence stretched the Atari ST’S ca­pa­bil­i­ties

» Plat­form: Atari St » De­vel­oper: Dig­i­tal im­age De­sign » re­leased: 1991

Ocean scored a hit with its Robo­cop tie-in, and it re­peated the for­mula when it came to the games based on the movie se­quels. Robo­cop 2 fea­tured side-scrolling ‘Robo on pa­trol’ stages in­ter­spersed with to­ken minigames, and Robo­cop 3 did ex­actly the same – or at least it did on con­soles and 8-bit com­put­ers. It was quite a dif­fer­ent story on the Atari ST, Amiga and PC how­ever, where 2D Old Detroit be­came 3D Delta City.

This ver­sion of Robo­cop 3 was de­vel­oped by Dig­i­tal Im­age De­sign, which had pre­vi­ously de­vel­oped flight sim F29 Re­tal­ia­tor. Stu­dio direc­tor Martin Ken­wright has re­vealed that the com­pany was work­ing on a 3D con­cept ti­tled ‘Mechadroid’ which they de­moed to Ocean at the CES show in Septem­ber 1990. Martin sug­gested that the ro­bot in the game could be­come Robo­cop, and the guys at Ocean went for it. Robo­cop 3 was re­leased the fol­low­ing year, just in time for Christ­mas.

Like most movie adap­ta­tions, it was made up of sub-games based on the script. So there was a driv­ing bit, a shoot­ing bit, a fly­ing bit and a fight­ing bit. But un­like other adap­ta­tions, this one was in full 3D. There were no sprites, just solid poly­gons, and it worked bril­liantly.

The open­ing driv­ing scene, which saw Robo pa­trolling Delta City in his cruiser, was hugely im­pres­sive. The fol­low­ing on-foot sec­tion was even bet­ter, de­liv­er­ing ba­sic but ef­fec­tive FPS thrills be­fore the term was even coined. The fly­ing and fight­ing scenes were less suc­cess­ful, but were still tech­ni­cally re­mark­able for the time. Un­sur­pris­ingly the ti­tle was raved about on re­lease. Ed Rick­etts of ST For­mat mag­a­zine awarded it 94%, say­ing: “Robo­cop 3 is per­haps the first ex­am­ple of what can re­ally be done with a li­cence with some thought, time and pro­gram­ming ex­cel­lence.”

We’ve cho­sen to high­light the Atari ST ver­sion here be­cause, like a few pure poly­gon games, it runs marginally faster and smoother than the Amiga ver­sion. More­over, we like to cham­pion the un­der­dog when we can. We also like to cel­e­brate that rare thing – a movie li­cence that’s more en­joy­able and in­ven­tive than the source ma­te­rial. This is by far the best prod­uct to carry the Robo­cop 3 name.

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