GAME REVIEW: Voltron: Defender of the Universe

As a fan of the 1984 animated series, I was pretty excited to check out THQ’s “Voltron: Defender of the Universe” game for Xbox Live Arcade, but unfortunately, that excitement didn’t last for very long. Though its heart is undeniably in the right place, the game is little more than a chaotic shoot ‘em up that wears out its welcome fast. Players take control of the Lion of their choice and fight through three different levels populated with the same handful of enemies to complete objectives like destroying energy towers, defending castles and escorting groups of survivors to safety. It’s pretty monotonous stuff, made even more so by the lack of variety in the Lions themselves. Although they may boast different colors and seemingly unique stats (including agility, long-range shooting and armor), they don’t really handle all that much differently.

I might have been able to get past the sheer tedium of the Lion-based gameplay if there was something worth looking forward to at the end of each level, but while you do eventually get to fight as Voltron against some of King Zarkon’s Robeasts, it’s not exactly as you’d imagine. The combat system for the boss battles is uninspired to say the least, with attacks consigned to turn-based controls where you select a move and then execute it by stopping a sliding bar in the sweet spot, while defense is a ridiculously easy QTE. “Voltron: Defender of the Universe” isn’t a complete mess – the visuals are pretty good for an XBLA game and fans will love some of the nostalgic cues, like the narrator who announces, “Voltron will be back after these messages,” whenever you hit the Pause button – but considering its price (800 MS), it’s simply not good enough to warrant a purchase, even for the most diehard fans.