Rengoku was originally released for the PSP back in 2005. Let’s see how the game fairs up five years later after a rerelease on the PSN store in my review of Rengoku.
For a two distinct reasons Rengoku reminds me of Rise of the Robots back on the Amiga. Firstly they both share a story about Robots that need to battle each other to the death, and secondly, they’re both pretty bad. Rise of the Robots was a typical 2D Beat em up that tried succeed in a market dominated by Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, it failed. Rengoku on the other hand is more of a 3D Adventure game, but only just.
The basic plot of the game is to take your character A.D.A.M. through a series of floors clearing it of enemies. A.D.A.M. is robot designed purely for battle and until recently knew of nothing else, perhaps if A.D.A.M. can escape this never ending tower he may find some sort of life. Until then it’s business as usual, battling other robots.
To start with A.D.A.M. starts off without any decent weaponry at all and the first few battles will be hand to hand combat only. However you can gather weapons from downed enemies or earn enough Elixir to build new weapons via computer terminals located between floors. Being a robot gives A.D.A.M. a rather nifty ability, each weapon becomes part of his body. This literally means that if you want A.D.A.M.’s head to become gun turret, then you can. Not only that but his chest and arms can be equipped in the same superhero-esque fashion.
As you travel from room to room you’ll battle at least one other robot who probably is slightly more powerful than you. This A, makes it quite difficult from the get go but also B, requires you to learn the controls and dodge abilities pretty damn quick. After defeating each of the robot(s) in a room all of the adjoining doors will become unlocked allowing you to progress. But perhaps I use the word progress too strongly when all that really happens is you enter another identical looking room filled with crates and another handful of robots to kill.
Battles for the most part require a tiny bit of strategy; it’s best to lock on from long range and wear down a baddie with a gun. This should then give you a chance to get close and finish him off with your body weapons. Every attack you perform will cause that area of A.D.A.M.’s body to overheat and as you can probably imagine, that’s not a good thing for a robot. Once overheated, these body parts can take a very long time to cool down sufficiently to use in battle again. This does at least require you to vary up your attacking a bit because using the exact same technique time after time in close succession will quickly leave you stranded (and hot). That is until you or your opponent destroys a nearby create which will quite often contain either a power up to refill your health or cool yours system down. It appears that instead of being held back like a human by something simple like machine gun ammo, its temperature that will be your greatest drawback in Rengoku.
For a system that supposedly can exceed PlayStation 2 graphics I have to admit disappointment so far. My first two experiences of Sony PSP games have been titles that would have disappointed me on Nintendo DS. Rengoku is very bland looking with blocky textures and a very short draw distance. The actual gothic cyborg character designs are actually quite interesting and would probably benefit from being rendered in a new PlayStation 3 game but instead you hardly get to look at them amongst the rest of the blurry mess onscreen in Rengoku. And that’s everything say about the game really. Rengoku really feels dated and is just no fun to play. It’s certainly challenging but not because of clever design but tricky controls and overpowered enemies. Almost every room and every battle feel identical and if it weren’t for the super tough boss battles that vary the gameplay a little, I may have actually fallen asleep.
Despite the promise of hundreds of weapons, randomised levels and a Wi-Fi multiplayer deathmatch mode I can’t award Rengoku for PSP anything more than 4 out of 10.