RoboCop. Part man. Part machine. All EGA.
Objectively, RoboCop is a mediocre platform shooter for it's time with a sci-fi storyline. Its story telling formula is much like Shinobi, Double Dragon, or any number of other themed story games of the era. Play a level, beat a boss, get a part of the story and repeat this process until end. If you like that sort of thing, or just like futuristic storylines about cyborg heroes, RoboCop may be your game.
The other aspect of RoboCop is that it is a video game based on a movie. Video games based on existing franchises tend to get a bad rap, but with good reason. Most of the time translation of a movie into a game means distorting the original material to fit existing game types causing the result to be nit-picked to death by “that never happened” naysayers, or the source material is kept true with the game play suffering tremendously. In the worst case scenario you get ET for the Atari 2600 in which case both game play and story are sacrificed upon the altar of the evil god Makeabuck. I understand those who were caught off guard and paid money for that game are known in official records only as “victims.”
So it happened that RoboCop the game was received with a lukewarm welcome. Sure, RoboCop seemed the perfect candidate for a transplant to video games, but that's failed before too. (Anyone remember TRON?) However, as it turns out, RoboCop actually had two things going for it. First, as has mentioned before, a futuristic action flick staring a gun toting cyborg cop is perfect for a video game. Second, much of the audience the game was marketed towards, that is early teenage males, hadn’t actually seen the movie because it’s ‘R’ rating barred them entrance. Sure they could sneak in, but that happened a lot less than we like to remember.
So, excited by previews but unsated, the RoboCop game had to only deliver 2 things to be successful: action, and characters from the movie seen in the previews. Did the game deliver? Yes it did.
Now for the bad news. RoboCop is incredibly difficult owing in no small part to the fact that Murphy’s cybernetic parts didn’t include a leg upgrade. RoboCop moves pretty slow and jumps pretty poorly. Dodging bullets takes a lot of practice and a dash of ESP. Beating a boss usually entails taking a beating yourself, but as long as you have a shred of life left you'll be full at the start of the next level. Fighting bosses, especially the first, entails getting in a position you can hit them before they get on screen and hitting your fire button faster than they do. But if you can make your lives last you get to pick up cool weapons upgrades including my personal favorite, the fireball launcher.
In short, clunky controls, beeps and boops for sound, but a decent translation of a movie to a game for the time, I say RoboCop is good for a look and give it 3.
Tech note – Choose the Tandy sound option or the game will lock up DOSBox. If you want to actually hear this game's sound you'll need to change the config file for DOSBox so that "tandy=true" under the speaker option.