Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
I’m glad SNK has been re-releasing their Neo Geo Pocket color games as many of the games for it a lot of us never got to play. Not just that, but these titles also cost a lot to track down and buy so what better fit than the Nintendo Switch to release them on? Much like the first game I played that was re-released, SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters Clash, I am learning that the Neo Geo Pocket color has some quality titles.
Biomotor Unitron is an RPG where you pilot and build robots called Unitron’s. You play as a youth who just arrived in the capital city with a Unitron in hopes of winning the tournaments and becoming the Master of Masters. When you start the game you can pick from five different races and between male and female. The races are Humans, Forester who are an Elf like being, Mariner who live in oceans, Birdian who are like a mix of an elf and a bird as they have wings, and Lizardman who are half reptile and half-human.
Once you’ve picked your race and gender, you will then name your character and whatever gender you didn’t pick will become your partner who you will also name. The selected race you picked will then determine the parts that your Unitron starts with. I picked Human for my first playthrough so I got a human-looking Unitron with a fist arm, lancer arm, and human legs.
Your Unitron can be equipped with a right arm, left arm, core, legs, and backpack. Arms are your weapons. Cores affect how much EP you have which is used for attacking. Legs can determine your Hit Points (HP) and Agility Rating (RP). The higher the RP, the better chance to dodge an attack. Backpacks will affect HP and Movement Points (MP) where MP is a movement rating that affects combat speed. When first starting out this all felt a little overwhelming but you can bring up the in-game manual at any time which is a huge help in learning what is what.
Your Unitron also has a body that will level up as your partner levels up. Your Unitron’s arms have affinities much like in Pokemon with fire, wind, wood, water, earth, light, and dark types. As you can probably guess, fire is strong against wood and weak to water and so on, so attaching the right arm for the fight can help. You can also equip accessories to your Unitron that can do things like raise its armor or change the body’s affinity so again having the right affinities at the right time is important so you can do the most damage and receive less.
Your partner can develop new arms from your old arms and materials you find in dungeons. You can also buy a limited selection of parts from the shop. At first, your partner’s level is low and sometimes you may fail in making new arms but as you successfully develop new ones your partner’s level will go up making it easier to develop new better arms. You can also use tools you find to make the chance of succeeding greater.
Other than the main goal of becoming the Master of Masters you can also explore four dungeons where you can find materials for arm development and other useful things like tools and items. Each of the four dungeons has seven floors to explore, each getting harder the deeper you go, but offering better loot each time. The dungeons layout are supposed to be random but after playing it for a while you will find out that there are about ten layouts that the game randomly picks. You learn your way around some of the floors even if floor one happened to be the layout of floor five in your last run of a dungeon.
Each of these dungeons has an affinity. Forest of Verdure which is wood, Maze of Stone which is earth, Ruins of Wind which is wind, and Corridor of Deep Blue which is water. This is where having the right equipment comes in handy as with the right stuff, you can beat these dungeons easily. While going through these dungeons your character will level up from fighting and your control goes up by one, which gives you better control of the Unitron but not the Unitron itself. I am still a little confused by this stat as I didn’t see any difference between being low level or later on in the game when I leveled up, it all just seems the same. Also, like many of the games of the time, the battles are turn-based which happens to be my favorite type of battle in RPGs.
There are a handful of NPCs in the town you can talk to and learn a little more about the story, and sometimes, even get new attacks or items from chatting with them. So while in town, after each time you rank up in the arena you should make sure to visit everyone just to see. The arena is where you will fight to rank up going against other Unitrons and for each rank you have to pay an entry fee, but, you get prize money back if you win.
The story Biomotor Unitron is a little lacking but I still enjoyed it. Some people may get annoyed at the grinding you have to do before you get good enough arms but the game is short enough that you can beat it in about 10-15 hours. I beat it in about three nights but one also has to remember that Biomotor Unitron was a handheld game that came out in 1999 that I think was supposed to be SNK’s version of Pokemon. It is a fun and short enough game if you have the patience to grind and to learn all the meaning of the Unitron’s stats and affinities.
Overall I enjoyed Biomotor Unitron. It is a great game to just relax to or to play while on a long trip in the Switch’s handheld mode. I know I would have really liked this in 1999 and it’s cool to be able to play these games that one may normally not have been able to.
Although there are a few flaws like random battles every few steps and a lacking story, it didn’t take much away from the fun I had. It’s not perfect, but it’s a fun game for being over 20 years old.Score: 7 / 10