Biomotor Unitron is the re-release of a monster-breeding/collecting game that came out about 25 years ago in the midst of the first Pok?mon craze. Somehow, it?s not even the first one of those I?ve played this year ? way back in January, I reviewed Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX, another monster-breeding/collecting game that came out about 25 years ago in the midst of the first Pok?mon craze.
Obviously, neither Biomotor Unitron nor Monster Rancher captured the popular imagination in the way Pok?mon did. But even if the two games both inhabit the same space, they?re actually fairly different ? starting with the fact that Biomotor Unitron is a decent game, whereas Monster Rancher was kind of terrible.
A big part of why Biomotor Unitron is better is that it?s much less ambitious. Unlike Monster Rancher, which tried to complicate the Pok?mon formula with things like aging and morale and lengthy training sequences, Biomotor Unitron keeps things simple. You have a robot, you send it out into dungeons to fight monsters and find resources, and then you return to your homebase and use the resources to improve your robot. You can also go to a few locations in your town to buy more resources, and if you feel your robot is strong enough you can enter it in tournaments at the arena. It never tries to get too complicated, and it?s better for it.
Biomotor Unitron is also helped by the fact its 16-bit graphics have aged much, much better than Monster Rancher and its PS1-era polygons. In fact, the whole presentation is much more appealing ? Biomotor Unitron was the first RPG to be released on the Neo Geo Pocket Color, and to commemorate that, the whole game is displayed on an on-screen Pocket Color on your screen. It makes for much smaller visuals, but it adds to the over fun retro vibe.
To be sure, you could critique Biomotor Unitron for not straying too far from its inspiration ? and even if it borrows from Pok?mon, it never comes close to matching it. But just as the ?90s had room for second-tier competitors like Digimon, there?s no reason why Biomotor Unitron can?t exist as a fun curio today. It won?t make anyone forget Pok?mon or wonder why Biomotor Unitron didn?t find more of a fanbase, but it?s fun enough that you?ll be able to enjoy it anyway.
SNK provided us with a Biomotor Unitron Switch code for review purposes.