Remember Rock’em Sock’em Robots, the old game where a couple of robots try to knock each other’s heads off? SmackBOTS is that, on the iPhone. The concept is still just as simple and the amount of frustration is just as high, but the game’s been given some shiny graphics, a little story, and taken out of the old plastic boxing locale.  

When I say the concept is simple, I mean it. Before rounds, you’re treated to some short story pieces in comic book style. The gist is you’re a top-secret government robot being combat tested against other models. That’s actually more than half the storyline (sorry?). During combat, your only method of controlling your fighting machine is to hit your iPhone. Tapping the left or right side of the screen makes your robot throw a punch with its left or right hand, respectively and each tap automatically makes your robot walk. Matches are played in best 2 out of 3 rounds, and in order to successfully win a bout you’ll need to tap your iPhone rapidly, and hard. The game doesn’t like to register the soft touches. While this violence on technology may seem theraputic to some people, I got a little nervous about my baby after I realized my fingertips were hurting.

Although frantic screen smacking can get you through the first fight, you’ll need to utilize some strategy to make it through any more. Spend a couple of rounds and figure out the right timing for blocks and the proper sequence of taps to initiate your combos, and the enemy robot heads will start to pile up. After each win, you can manage your robot in the shop. You gain new robot heads (the ones you take!), and new robot colors, and……that’s it. I know the concept for the game is pretty light, but the depth of choices here is truly underwhelming. This is particularly obvious when you go to the options screen, which gives you one option: to turn the sound off. It’s good LeftRight studios put that option in there though, since you’ll probably be tired of the robot bleep-bloop music after half a round. Also, in what’s either a glaring glitch or my own ignorance, after I unlocked the 3rd head and 3rd color, it still showed them as locked in the robot garage. LeftRight mentions additional unlockables on its website for .99 cents, but they’ve got to be kidding! I don’t want to pay extra in the first place, and definitely not for the very few unlockables already included in the game!

Just like when I played Rock’em Sock’em Robots against the neighbor boy and got so frustrated I threw it down the hall, smackBOTS will make you question the fairness of it all. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the game is definitely best suited for small doses. Show it to some kids or take a trip down memory lane yourself; SmackBOTS is a good way to kill 3 minutes and a great way to make you thankful you have other games.

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