Well, here's your ending. Dr. Maybe gets clobbered by Santa Claus, and then Pond joins him for a little sleigh ride. Mission complete.

And yes, 'Thank you for your cooperation' is taken directly from the real Robocop.





So, in the end, Robocod is basically your standard 90s platformer with a bizarre sense of humour. Is that such a bad thing? No, it isn't! Hard as it may be to believe, Robocod wasn't a product of the 'mascot platformer' craze of the 90s (that Sonic fellow has a lot to answer for), but was actually inspired by a weird C64 game by the name of Thing on a Spring, so it's not like it was cobbled together to cash in on the craze. As such, it means that Robocod's a tad more polished than the mascot platformers that followed it, and unlike them (Bubsy, Awesome Possum, pay attention) it's actually fun to play.

Admittedly, there are a few complaints- while most of the stages are short and sweet, some drag on for a bit (Car Maze, stand up at the back) and while some of the cheap shots (courtesy of the Paper Card Birds) do feel a bit unnecessary, this is negated by the health items that are rather liberally scattered about, and the fact that you can even take more than one hit in the first place is a plus. Honestly, though, aside from the Sweet and Car worlds, Robocod is one of those games that isn't absolutely amazing- it's the very definition of a 3-star game- but it's just fun to pick up for half an hour or so and blast through for laughs- most of the levels are pretty short, so it doesn't take that long to make a fair bit of progress. If it had a legit password feature to let you play any level, it'd be even better, but that's really a minor quibble.

What really makes the game stand out, though, is the visual style. It's very Amiga-like- very chubby sprites with doe-eyes and lots of chrome shading- but the actual worlds themselves are so far removed from the standard 'grass world/lava world/ice world/city world' guff that was so popular at the time, that you can't help but be charmed by it. Even to this day, there are few platformers that can brag about having levels that take place in a world made up of musical notations. Maybe this is a result of how it was developed- in an interview with Retro Gamer, Chris Sorrell admits that, "[Robocod] was developed with a very modest budget and time frame- about nine months- and with relatively little commercial or creative pressure. It was just a few of us making the wackiest, most fun game we could." That's Robocod in a nutshell- just a bunch of British Amiga coders doing their best to make the most off-the-wall game they could in the fastest time possible.

It may be over 15 years too late, but I have to say... Nice work, lads!





And now, it's that time, folks!
EXTENDED PLAY!





As well as the CHEAT, LIVES and POWER tricks, there's a slightly more traditional cheat for this game. Unfortunately, I can only get it to work on the PAL version of the game. On the title screen, press A, C, Down-Left and Start at the same time to bring up this cheat menu. Sadly, there isn't much you can really do- you can choose your starting level (pick 80 to see the ending immediately), test the music and sound effects, and change the controls to your liking. A pretty light-weight cheat menu, but useful nonetheless.





Obviously, the Mega Drive version of James Pond II wasn't the only one knocking about during the 90s- while originally released on the Amiga, the fishy agent's second adventure wound up on the Atari ST, the Commodore 64, PC-DOS, the SNES (under the name Super James Pond), the Game Gear and the Game Boy. There was also an enhanced CD version for the Amiga CD32 that included a pretty awful cartoon intro.

I could go on about all the differences between these versions, but I'll be honest- I just don't want to. The Mega Drive/Amiga versions are the ones to go for, really, as they're the easiest to find and almost certainly the best, although the Master System port desreves a mention for being amazingly faithful, looking very close to its Mega Drive cousin but missing several backgrounds and stages (it also has a much nicer looking title screen)and the Game Boy version deserves its own special section of Hell because it's an affront to humanity. That's all you're getting on the different ports... At least, from the 90s.



However, in 2004, over 10 years later, Robocod made a dramatic return to the video game scene, with a pseudo-remake released for the Playstation, and a year later, ports to the Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS and PS2- the screenshots here are from the GBA version. Why Robocod, of all games, was chosen to be brought back from the dead is something that still confuses me to this day, but hey, introducing it to a new audience is OK with me... Although perhaps not quite like this. Why would I say that? Surely I'd support such a re-release? Maybe it's because, aside from (possibly) the DS version, all these 'ports' are absolutely horrible.



Admittedly, I only own the Game Boy Advance and PS2 versions, but I've looked into this, and have determined that, obvious graphical and sound concessions aside, these 'ports' are basically one and the same... And every single good thing about Robocod has been ripped out mercilessly, because the levels have all changed. No longer relatively short sprints through often amusing worlds, they're now painful penguin hunts- oh, wait, sorry, I mean elf hunts, because the Penguin sponsorship has been taken out. So, basically, every stage has turned into the Car Maze, and while this is at least acceptable in the DS release, because one of the screens serves as a map, the other versions don't have it, turning the game into an exercise in frustration.



It doesn't help that the levels have been constructed by stitching together graphics from different parts of the original game, giving them this bizarre cobbled-together feel, and that they're almost entirely bland, sprawling, and critically missing the straightforward-yet-interesting design of the original game. I'm not sure which is worse between the GBA and PS2 versions, because the cramped screen of the GBA makes the whole experience almost interminable and highly claustrophobic, but the PS2 game has absolutely horrendous controls which I dicsuss here at RetroCollect- basically, Pond is an absolute pig to control as he'll often veer completely out of control while jumping. Yeah, you can see more of the screen in this version, and the main James Pond theme from the Amiga CD32 version of the game is present, you can't get past the controls, oh my God the controls are the stuff of nightmares. They're unspeakably bad. I have yet to play the PS1 and DS versions, but I'd say the DS would be the only version to get off lightly, as you can see a map of the current stage on the bottom screen. Just avoid all of them, to be on the safe side.



To add insult to injury, the PS1 version's intro is painful, to say the very least.



James Pond II - Codename: Robocod - Unofficial Soundtrack

And now, for downloads!

Actually, I did find the soundtrack to Robocod elsewhere on the 'net, but the link was dead. Deeming this as unacceptable, I decided to rip it myself... This was actually pretty easy, as there's only 7 songs in the entire game, along with 3 little jingles. Almost all of the songs share a similarity with the theme from Bubble Bobble, in that you can listen to them for hours and not go insane, despite what common sense would tell you. Best of all, the music that plays halfway through the intro is 'Ode to Robocod'... A very cheeky parody of the theme from Robocop!

Even better, I actually know who composed the songs this time! Or, at least, the person behind the original Amiga compositions- a chap by the name of Richard Joseph (1953-2007) who's generally regarded as The King of C64 and Amiga music. As well as all 3 James Pond games, he worked on games like The Chaos Engine and Mega-lo-Mania, and won the BAFTA for Best Audio in 2000 with Theme Park World. More importantly, though, he's the man responsible for "War Has Never Been So Much Fun", the infamous theme music from Cannon Fodder.





And finally, just what you were looking for- shoddy desktop wallpapers!

These are only slightly less lazy than the Zombie Raid wallpapers, as I actually took the time to resize these things, and with one of them, even took about 50 screenshots to construct a beautiful bit of pixel-art wallpaper... Just like those old guides they used to have in vidcon rags like Sega XS and, uh, Console XS, where they'd piece together hundreds of screenshots to create maps. Sure, they were usually very badly stitched together, and they'd never take the main character out of any screenshot, but... Where was I going with this?

Oh, yeah. Wallpapers. Just download them and use them on your PC, you fool.



Mission complete, Robocod. Go and have a holiday- you've earned it. And so have I.

Remember kids- Robocod says, 'Stay out of trouble... And go back to the main index!'