Re(?)Considered: James Pond: Codename Robocod
"Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit." - Romans 3:13
Regular Re(?)Considerers will already know of my fondness for F.I.5.H's underwater agent, James Pond. His iconic first sequel - Robocod - set the world on fire upon its original release on Amiga, Atari ST and Mega Drive. It was then ported to almost every platform under the sun, bringing its colourful platforming fun to everything from the Acorn Archimedes to the Game Gear.
James Pond: Codename Robocod once again pits the titular staple of a hearty British supper against the evil Dr. Maybe (get it!?) who has kidnapped all the penguins in the North Pole. Penguins, because the game was tied-in with the British lunchbox institution, Penguin biscuits. Basically a biscuit with chocolate inside, then covered in even more chocolate. Delicious stuff, not as good as a Trio. But I digress. James Pond was to Penguins what Zool was to Chupa Chups. No wonder everyone my age has diabetes now.
Players grew attached to Pond's very English style and silliness, and its charm hasn't diminished. Levels are populated with a diverse selection of enemies and myriad collectable trinkets, with useful items in every nook and cranny, hidden levels deviously tucked away and a selection of over-the-top vehicles to operate from cars to planes to flying bathtubs. There was a real sense of fun in the world design, which felt open and free to explore despite being ultimately linear. Multiple exits from stages, tons of little bonuses to pick up. It's just great.
Which brings me to my point. Recently - as in, last week - Robocod has been released on the Nintendo Switch. You’d think I’d rejoice, rapture. But no. It's a False Robocod. A Serpent in the Garden of Amiga Eden. You see, back in 2003, Robocod was released on the PlayStation - seemingly out of nowhere. I grabbed it, eager to get back to the adventure I loved so much on my Master System, only to be blindsided. It's all new levels. Totally different layout and style. Hidden secrets are completely omitted. It's a far more rote, less interesting selection, and utterly disappointing to a James Pond veteran like me. This version later showed up on GBA, PS2 and DS, bringing its relative crapness with it every time. I was devastated; the excellent Robocod of my youth had been replaced wholesale by The Imposter, this defacement, this heresy. This new game, (which is not bad, just totally plain) for all intents and purposes, had erased the real Robocod. I felt like my Sega copy was going to fade out of existence like Marty McFly.
Now, it's on the Switch, and it's this same undeserving phoney experience. It's like someone throwing your childhood memories into a burning bin, laughing maniacally. And I have to spread the word. Everything is wrong. The levels, the movement, the whole design ethos is incorrect. And, worst of all, there are no Penguin biscuits!
So please, if you must buy the False Robocod, understand something; It is not Robocod. It is a calculated insult to the dead. It is evil and wrong. I mean, you know. You’ll have fun with it. It's fine. It's an okay game. But it's also the worst thing in the world.