Some light puzzle elements were included, but nothing much harder than scouring the maze looking for the escalator power switch that would take you to the next floor. If you walked too close to an edge, your galactic stud muffin would dangle precariously until you jammed the jump button enough times to pull him to safety. Thankfully, a small set of power ups were available to help you in your quest, such as bombs, force fields, and plates of food.
Two more types of levels served to spice up the experience. The first were the vehicle-based stages, where the two heroes guided a small spacecraft through a maze of canals, attempting to make it through before time expired. These levels were brief, but exciting. The boss levels, where the square-jawed duo took on Reptilons or giant robotic creations, all but required players to use up their supply of bombs in order to conserve lives. Once the boss baddie dropped, it was on to the next factory, to collect more humans to send back home. The last boss fight was particularly brutal, limiting the players to one life, no matter how many credits they plunked in. Yeah, this was frustrating, but kinda cool, at the same time.
The visual style of EPRM is another way in which it stands out from other games of the time. The bright, cartoony style was appealing to the eye, and very much appropriate for the subject matter. Extensive use of synthesized voice effects in story scenes was another reason to plunk in your quarters and take the game for a spin. The art was slightly risque (for lack of a better term), with a curvy, chained up woman as the main plot device, and of course the enslaved girls working in the factory, too. I'm sure it was more a nod to the stereotypes of the 50s than an attempt to get 10 year olds to pump in quarters in order to see the pretty girls, but it was definitely pushing the envelope before Mortal Kombat and Dead or Alive hit the scene.
As I said before, Escape from the Planet of the Robot Monsters can be summed up in one word: interesting. The plot, shamelessly ripped of from bad 50s movies, the unusual perspective and controls, and the tongue-in-cheek innuendo all combined to make a very memorable arcade experience. Next week, look for a special video edition of EPRM where you can see for yourself just how unique and enjoyable this co-op classic really is.