And here’s to you, Mr. Robinson!
Poor game-starved Jaguar CD owners were waiting over 15 years for the release of this game. A conversion of the Atari ST, Amiga, PC and Falcon game of the same name: Robinson’s Requiem was due to be a launch title for the Jaguar CD unit, and was actually one of the games shown on the system’s box. Despite being finished, it was never released due to the failure of the system, and it sat in the hands of collector Jay Smith (of Jaguar Sector II fame) for many years until he gave the game over to Carl Forhan of Songbird Productions in a vain attempt to find the copyright holders and get the game officially released. The problem was that the original developers and publishers Silmarils had long since closed down and nobody seemed to know who owned their I.P. That was finally solved in the summer of 2012 when the original coders were contacted and we finally got to see the game released in all its glory complete with a glass mastered CD, professional manual and swanky DVD box.
The action unfolds in the middle of the twenty-second century, at a time when the Earth and some of its colonised planets are already over-populated. Robinson is the nickname given to members of AWE – Alien World Exploration – a military body whose task it is to explore totally unknown planets. You are a Robinson and your last ever mission takes you to an uncharted planet where something goes horribly wrong. Now you must survive the harsh environment and somehow make your way home. You must explore and survive in this hostile alien environment, while using the game’s systems to monitor your health status, perform surgery and create makeshift tools. Lots of useful things can be found around the planet and added to your inventory. You can also kill other characters in the game too – and steal their stuff! Robinson’s Requiem looks much like a FPS with its first person view and a 3D landscape, but plays more like a complex adventure game with RPG elements. The world itself is huge, and you will need to make a lot of use of the map and even take notes! If you go to the Songbird site, you can also download the white book which contains lots of hints and tips to help you play the game.
While the other versions of Robinson’s Requiem used either rendered graphics or a voxel engine to create the landscape, both the Jag CD and 3DO versions (the only ones on home consoles) use fully texture mapped polygons instead. However the Jag CD version looks far more impressive than its 32-bit cousin. While the 3DO uses fog to hide the draw distance, this version doesn’t, and it all looks a lot cleaner. I have to say the 3D engine used in this game is incredibly impressive – it’s fast, smooth and detailed. My only criticism would be that the draw distance on the landscape isn’t the best, but it’s certainly no worse than say BattleMorph for example, or most other Jaguar games of the time for that matter. In fact it’s possibly the best 3D engine out there for the machine, matching up very favourably with the one used in Hover Strike: Unconquered Lands. In the sound department Robinson’s Requiem also excels with lots of atmospheric noises from the environment around you that really add to the overall experience. It’s also worth mentioning that the load times in this game are unbelievably good. Because of the sheer size of the game, it has to load the landscape at certain intervals on the fly and it’s so quick you barely notice it – very impressive indeed. Load times can often cripple CD releases, but this is one area the Jag CD seems to score high over its rivals.
I think it’s true to say that Robinson’s Requiem will not be everyone’s cup of tea. Hell, it’s not even my type of game, but I couldn’t help but enjoy the whole experience of it. There really isn’t much, if anything, bad about this game, and it certainly offers something very different to what is already available for the system. In my opinion that makes Robinson’s Requiem a game that should be at the top of every Jaguar CD owner’s shopping list.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: Atari Jaguar CD (Reviewed), 3DO, Atari ST, Atari Falcon, Commodore Amiga, PC; Publisher: Songbird Productions ; Developer: Silmarils ; Players: 1 ; Released: 2011 ; ESRB: T for Teen ; MSRP: $59.95