Game Boy’s Robocop has one of the saddest puzzles in gaming history

Reprodução/Ocean Software, MGM

Robocop It’s not a happy story. It never was and never will be, but the film about the police officer of the future is always remembered for its chaotic violence and one or another criticism of capitalism and the society in which we live. But there is something very sad in the entire franchise, which is the internal struggle of man giving way to the machine to be the best police officer possible.

This is the kind of questioning you expect in movies or, perhaps, in some more in-depth work, but not in a Game Boy game from 1990. Especially not through one of the most depressing puzzles you’ll find in a game with a Half robot, half human, shooting characters represented in just a few pixels in the face.

Robocop just wanted to rest

The whole story of Robocop, the film, can be summarized as “They don’t even let the worker die in peace”, see that Detective Alex Murphy is tortured and killed on a mission as a police officer, but the OCP decides that he will work some more and transforms what left of him in a robot. It’s as if your boss told you that you owe work hours and need to stay overtime to cover it, but in a more extreme way.

Murphy had a family, a wife and a son, who simply received money because they threw his face at a robot that moves in a weird way. As expected, there is a dilemma about what makes a person themselves, if not their memories and choices. To eliminate this, the OCP, which becomes the owner of the former employee, tries to erase all the memories he had of his life as a human. It is a very clear criticism of this dehumanization of the workforce and how the individual is seen only as property.

This attitude, in addition to being absurdly stupid, aims to maintain greater control over Robocop, making it easier to choose who he can attack, but maintaining that nonsense of “he’s still human and can make decisions”.

But there’s a problem here: how can you bring all of this to a Game Boy game from the early 1990s limited by hardware that doesn’t allow you to work on all these narrative layers in a more cinematic way? We already know, SADLY!

Bad puzzle with worse results

Em Robocop 2, based on the second film in the series and developed by Ocean Software, the player controls Robocop in run and gun stages, in which you simply advance and shoot whatever you see in front of you. It fits the character, it makes sense.

The game has somewhat horrible gameplay even for a Game Boy of the time, with Robocop sliding around the platforms more than he should, making controlling him a separate challenge.

From time to time, the player would receive a screen informing them that they were experiencing mental interference and needed to locate a memory in their mind. A puzzle of forming an image after it was shuffled aimed to maintain the memory of his family and that Robocop is still half human. As a result, you gained two lives.

But the puzzle was horrible and you had 60 seconds to solve it. If you couldn’t, the memory that you once had a wife and a child would simply be erased from your mind.

Now imagine this happening to a kid who thought it would be cool to play Robocop 2 on the Game Boy and having to fight for the conscience of a dead man who was resurrected by the cold hands of capitalism and, now, tries to maintain the thread of humanity that he still has left.

But hey, you can fill robots with bullets and there’s a level that uses a jetpack, so I guess it’s okay. There’s no way to be sad with a jetpack.