Rip-offs of Doom targeted at children have the dubious honor, in an industry not exactly renowned for original thinking and risk-taking, of being the most uncreative, unwieldy, and un-fun CD-ROMs in existence. This is because – for those who didn’t realize it – Doom works on the same level as a cheap horror movie, churning adrenaline and serving up so much unnecessary violence that a good game can seem almost existential. Take away the blood and replace it with grammar puzzles (like I.M. Meendid) and you’ve got a steaming pile of hooey that thinks it can please all of the people all of the time (kids will love it because it’s like Doom, parents will love it because it’s non-violent: wishful thinking, which ends up disappointing everyone). The latest transgression against quality is called RoboQuest (ages 8-14), from Philips Media. The game is similar, and inferior, toDoom in almost every way. Move through a 3D maze (which is shrunk to fit in half of your monitor), shoot things, grab fuel, move on to the next level. We know it’s a kids’ game, because the monsters are on the cute side (mosquitoes) and, instead of killing them, you simply paralyze them. RoboQuest is Doom without the blood, the excitement, or the good visuals. A few stabs at improving the formula – spells are available, as well as a “robot-assembly” activity, in which you put together the iron behemoth that you will then control – are respectable, but don’t go anywhere near far enough. If Philips wanted to be original and creative, they shouldn’t have made such a blatant and inferior rip-off. If Philips wanted to make a blatant rip-off, they at least should have upped the blood content (like Duke Nukem, which got it right).
– December 1996