Robo Crush

By wyrdwad

Paladin (702)

wyrdwad's picture

11-01-2019, 19:01

So, yeah, I talked about this a bit in the Shenan Dragon topic, but decided to go ahead and scan the box art, user's manual, and world guide for this game as well. You can find these scans on Imgur here:

https://imgur.com/gallery/PiB8Jdk

Or download them as hi-res JPGs via Sendspace here:

https://www.sendspace.com/file/ntfh3c

And yes, if anyone wants to update MSX databases with these (or use Photoshop to enhance the image quality, straighten crooked pages, etc.), please be my guest!

I wanted to post a topic about this game anyway, though, as I've been playing through it on and off for a while now, and... I mean, holy crap, this game is really good!

The premise makes it seem like it's going to be a really simple arena battler, and apparently that's exactly what its (non-MSX) sequels are. But this first entry is so much more than that -- it really is a full-on RPG, with quite a lot of story, really great (and uncharacteristically cynical/sarcastic) writing, and charming characters throughout, all packaged within a game world that's large, varied, fun to explore, and has a lot of side-quests and secrets.

The basic idea is that it's the 22nd century, and mankind has colonized much of the galaxy. However, due to the inhospitable conditions on other planets, "walker machines" were invented -- basically, mechs designed to serve as rideable avatars for people to avoid direct contact with the outside. Initially, these walker machines were extremely complicated and required multiple people to use correctly, but necessity is the mother of invention, and the work of a few corporations helped streamline a lot of their remote systems to make them extremely intuitive to use for even a single layman.

Over time, however, different types of walker machines were developed, along with a variety of add-ons, and people began participating in robot duels with them, using a series of rules that kind of branded these fights as a sort of sport known by the name "Robo Crush."

Enter our protagonist, Kimiite. He helped develop a highly experimental spaceship 12 years before the game begins, but something went disastrously wrong with it, and the resulting explosion claimed the lives of everyone on board... except him.

While walking down the street one day, however, Kimiite hears a voice coming from the ground nearby. He turns to look, and finds that it came from a seemingly AI-driven tablet computer named Berks. Berks coaxes Kimiite into picking him up, and also tries to convince him to enter the Robo Crush tournament in order to win himself a new ship, promising to help him out during the fights (even though it's technically against the Robo Crush ruleset to employ the use of an AI-driven computer in any way).

Reluctantly, Kimiite agrees, and sets off with Berks to see what he's able to do with his walker machine. Very quickly, he winds up recruiting a copilot named Azusa, and together, they attempt to dominate the entire Robo Crush circuit -- all while keeping Berks' presence under wraps.

The story kind of explodes in a million different directions from there, with some surprisingly somber scenes (like a quest to grant a dying child's last wish to see the ocean once more before the end), as well as some genuinely funny comedic moments (banter between Kimiite and Azusa is great, as both characters are really snarky -- and when Berks interjects, too, it gets even better, since Berks comes across as mischievous and a bit cocky).

I know there exists a partial translation from Django, but this game is quickly climbing the list of titles I'd love to fan-translate at some point -- though I'm not sure how feasible that would be, as it has a rather peculiar barrier to entry: disk 1 contains the intro and title screen, while disk 2 contains the rest of the game... except after you create a user disk, you never need to pop in disk 2 again, because the ENTIRE CONTENTS of disk 2 are copied onto the user disk, and the game is then played entirely FROM that user disk. Which I don't think I've ever seen another MSX game do.

If anyone with more technical expertise here has some time to look over the game and see how possible it would be to hack an English translation into it, however, I'd be really curious -- and I might just seek you out in the near(-ish) future to actually start the process, too, if you'd be willing! (I know I say that about a lot of games, but this one has really caught my attention, and I'd really like to seriously sit down and translate something again so my Japanese doesn't start to get rusty.)

Anyway, that's all for now! But before I sign off, I figure I'll link a couple short videos of the game that I uploaded to YouTube when I first got my hands on it a few months ago. These were created mostly to showcase the music (which is very simplistic OPLL, but still quite catchy), but also show off a little bit of basic gameplay, so if the game looks interesting to you, they might be worth watching just to see a bit of it in action.

Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wg9grsU_vuo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPKt3jU0qvo

-Tom

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By rderooy

Champion (421)

rderooy's picture

11-01-2019, 21:01

Hello Tom,

Thanks once more for uploading those scans. I have updated GenMSX.
https://www.generation-msx.nl/software/system-soft/robo-crus...

p.s. when scanning, could you include a scan of the media?

By wyrdwad

Paladin (702)

wyrdwad's picture

11-01-2019, 21:09

Oh, good call. I forgot about that. Is it safe to scan a floppy disk in a flatbed scanner, though? I don't want to accidentally corrupt the data or anything, but also don't know of any other way to get a nice image of the disks save for a perfectly positioned photograph...

-Tom

By rderooy

Champion (421)

rderooy's picture

11-01-2019, 21:20

As far as I know, that is how everyone does it :-)
I don't think there are any magnets in the scanner mechanism, that could cause corruption.

By wyrdwad

Paladin (702)

wyrdwad's picture

11-01-2019, 23:21

OK... I sure hope you're right! Haven't tested the disks yet afterward, but I did scan the two floppies. Tried to add them to my Imgur album, but because I already shared it publicly, it wouldn't let me -- and I couldn't find any option to temporarily remove the public posting in order to add to it, soooo I just uploaded the two disk images separately.

https://imgur.com/a945Ob3
https://imgur.com/qLTCZ8y

Hope these suffice! ;)

-Tom

By rderooy

Champion (421)

rderooy's picture

12-01-2019, 00:15

Thanks! I have updated the entry with your images.

By wyrdwad

Paladin (702)

wyrdwad's picture

16-01-2019, 22:17

I completed Robo Crush yesterday morning, and figured I'd share some off-screen photos of the ending with the community here, since I doubt too many others have beaten the game:

https://imgur.com/a/u4d2Qra

Really satisfying ending, though definitely SHOUNEN AS HELL. Choosing to pursue the final frontier and your grandfather's legacy over love, even if it takes the rest of your life? Check. Talking about how there's no place for you in this world, so you might as well find a new world where you can truly belong? Check. Pontificating on why human beings fight and kill each other, and why anyone would ever choose war? Check and check! ;)

A lot of MSX games have pure text endings, though, so the fact that this one had some nice visuals and dialogue really made it feel like a proper reward for your efforts -- and the game as a whole truly was excellent. This is definitely an underrated gem of an RPG, and one that I really hope I'm able to fan-translate at some point, as it was a wonderfully enjoyable experience from beginning to end. Equal parts sarcastic/cynical, heartfelt, engaging, and goofy, and always well-paced so that you were never lacking in things to do and never too far from an intriguing story scene. And the gameplay, while flawed and easy to cheat (once you figure out how the game's AI works, you can create a nearly unstoppable build for your robot and just breeze your way through the rest of the game), is also unique and interesting, and I had a good deal of fun figuring out the best approach to take down some of the game's tougher opponents.

It had a pretty fun cast of characters, too. One is just a dude in a hockey mask who lives alone in the middle of the desert and decides to join you because he's bored. When he does, he introduces himself to you... and his name is Janesaw. JANESAW. That may be the best name I've ever heard. ;)

Also, an interesting touch: the game lets you save clear data at the end, which I thought might be used for a New Game+ kind of scenario. Sadly, no such luck there, but you can reload that clear save to just... re-watch the ending, whenever you want. Which is still pretty neat for a game from the '80s!

I'm hoping to spark some interest in this game, as I'd really, really like to fan-translate it, AND I TOTALLY HAVE THE TIME RIGHT NOW IF ANYONE IS AVAILABLE TO DO THE HACKING/PROGRAMMING. Hint, hint. Heheh.

Hope others have a chance to enjoy this crazy little game sometime, but take it from me: if you can read Japanese, you should absolutely play through it. You won't be disappointed!

-Tom

By Sylvester

Champion (381)

Sylvester's picture

17-01-2019, 10:48

There is a partial translation from Django for this game: http://www.gandharamsx.sitew.fr/#Other_Translations.E

By wyrdwad

Paladin (702)

wyrdwad's picture

17-01-2019, 14:01

Part of what makes this game so great is the quality of its writing, though, and none of that comes through at all in the current partial translation, I'm afraid -- no offense intended to Django, who I know does his best, but I worked as a professional translator and editor for 8 and a half years, so when I see a translation like that, I just want to fix it up and make it better, you know?

It works well as a proof of concept, but one thing that's common to most of Django's translations is that he never uses even one character more than the original Japanese text did -- it's just a straight-up substitution of characters. And in order to translate this game well, you'd need to be able to go beyond that, at least to the outer boundaries of the available text area on the screen -- and ideally, beyond even that, adding text boxes as needed in order to accommodate the larger and more expansive nature of the English language.

Word choice is also important, as a lot is lost when dialogue doesn't sound natural or doesn't flow properly. And Django translations are much more workman-like in nature -- they exist just to get the game in English, without regard for the quality of that English. They are, again, proofs of concept more than they are actual fan-translations, I feel.

If anyone thinks they might be able to do a thorough hacking/programming job on the game like this, though, and would be willing to try inserting an extensive and fully edited fan-translation into this one, I will 100% be willing and available to provide the text. I don't start my new job in Japan until April, and won't be moving until the end of February or beginning of March, so I have quite a bit of time right now to work on a project like this, and would absolutely love to do it if someone is able and willing to help me out.

-Tom

My MSX profile