At first glance, "Robot Arena: Design and Destroy" looked like the type of sloppy game that gets pimped out in the checkout aisle of Wal-Mart, deceiving innocent children into thinking they could get a fun game for a discount price. Little did I know I would be spending over ten hours in the next two days contently designing and destroying robots in arenas.\nThe game, modeled closely after the "Battlebots" TV show, allows players a great deal of freedom to construct their own robot. First, gamers must draw out the chassis blueprint for their robot. Then this shape can be filled with a variety of motors, pistons, extension bar and powering devices (batteries and CO2). An arsenal of crude weaponry is available to arm the robots and the selection provides for many interesting and lethal combinations. The game even allows gamers to design their own robot controller, adding analog switches and buttons (all of which can be mapped to whichever key desired) to steer and trigger weapons.\nThe robot workshop is fairly well done, but it can cause some frustration. Occasionally, placing an object that has to be attached to another object (a wheel, for instance) can be ridiculously painful. This problem can be overcome by exiting the game and then restarting it, but this is tedious and annoying. \nWith the completion of a robot, gamers can test its potential against a number of computer controlled robots in an exhibition mode, compete in the single player league mode or take their design online for the ultimate test in robotic superiority. The game offers a number of arenas to compete in, all of which have hazards sure to tear up any unwary robots to stumble in their paths, but gamers do have the option to disable these. Up to four robots can fight at one time and robots are defeated either when their armor is expended and their control board is destroyed, or if they become immobilized for a ten count. If more than one robot survives when time runs out, the robot with the highest score wins. The action is illustrated with a fairly realistic physics engine but sometimes odd things tend to happen, such as robots getting flung like rag dolls and bouncing off the ceiling for no apparent reason.\n"Robot Arena: Design and Destroy" should not be judged by its cover. Inside that horrible looking box is a pretty decent game.
- David Antognoli\nBoot