RoboCop is one of the ZX Spectrum’s most well-remembered and loved titles. Released midway into the Spectrums life and at possibly its peak in 1988 by Ocean Software, RoboCop gave Speccy users everything they could possibly have asked for, and then some.
Featuring some of the smoothest scrolling and character animations you will find on the Spectrum, RoboCop follows its arcade big brother closely in terms of playing through a mix of side-scrolling levels where you are single-handed taking on the bad guys, along with mini-games which reference the original film.
It features fantastic music, as well as one of the best-known pieces of game music by Jonathan Dunn.
The game loosely follows the film where you play RoboCop, who previously was Alex Murphy, a Detroit cop gunned down by a local gang who was being pursued by Murphy and his partner. Murphy is then transformed into RoboCop, a human cyborg designed to be the ultimate ‘cop’.
This version of the game has you working through each stage, taking out criminals and working towards the climax of the story, to take out Dick Jones, the Senior Vice President of OCP and rescue the ‘old man’.
The level design and game mechanics work really well, with RoboCop being able to shoot, crouch, punch and aim diagonally to shoot enemies on different levels. You do have to be careful with your ammo though as it is very easy to find yourself without any bullets and can then only punch enemies, which is almost certain death!
You will find yourself having to battle an ED-209 machine on more than one occasion. Just be sure to stay underneath their bullets and gradually get closer to punch it, since your gun will have been disabled. You will have the benefit of using a weapon for the second ED-209 though.
The mini-games between levels are taken straight from the film, the first is where RoboCop has to rescue a woman being held at knifepoint, making sure you do not shoot her in the process, another where you are matching criminals’ faces to id them, then the final showdown with Dick Jones which is another first-person target challenge, being sure to shoot Dick Jones and not the ‘old man’.
I found that RoboCop has a good balance of difficulty and gameplay, typically Spectrum games of this era would often be overly hard, but they really nailed the mechanics of the game here.
It is actually not that hard to complete (although on this replay I did find it harder than I did when I played it originally!), but it is a game that has replay enjoyment to be had, both from a nostalgic point of view and just with it being a very solid title.
Definitely a ZX Spectrum classic!