The space segments are a little different, replacing melee attacks with a dodge mechanic.
It’s clear that the developers were aiming for an arcade feel, and it largely delivers. As you defeat foes, point values flow across the screen, color coded for each Lion. You’ll want to maximize your points by using pounce attacks and melee to finish baddies off quickly, gaining a bit of health in the process. You are limited to five lives per level, though you can pick up Star Pieces for more (though these also fuel special attacks), so healing is important.
If you lose all your Lion’s health, the pilot inside is ejected! You then control the itty bitty Voltron Force member, and can even shoot enemies though you do very little damage. If you can survive while the Lion’s timer resets, you can pop back inside, scoring a big point bonus. Alas, the pilots are very squishy and hard to see, so chances are they will fall and cost you a life. I really like this aspect of the game, it adds a nice amount of tension and fun.
Though the Lion sections of the game are passable, the Voltron sequences are disappointing. During the famous formation sequence, you switch to the cartoon with a quick time event overlay. The battles themselves are turn based affairs where one player selects an attack from a menu, then controls a sports-game style slider-meter while the other players aim a moving reticle in order to maximize damage. Defending attacks is a simple button press. These sections are well animated, but simple and terrifically boring, particularly after some of the challenging battles that lead up to them.
The Voltron parts are lackluster.
Cooperative elements in Voltron: Defender of the Universe are pretty sparse, given the teamwork-based nature of the source material. Two players locally can activate interlocks on a shared screen, and up to five players can get their dynatherms connected online. Sadly, you cannot mix and match local and online, which is pretty baffling since it’s a shared screen. Players share a pool of five lives, no matter how many are playing. There are no teamwork attacks to speak of, sadly, unless you count the simultaneous button pressing in the Voltron quick time events. I’d have expected more from the giant robotic embodiment of “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts”.
Overall, Voltron: Defender of the Universe is a rather average experience. It is chock full of fan service, and it isn’t a bad game by any means, but it isn’t great, either, even if you used to wear Voltron underwear or named your bike “Blue Lion”. (Note: one of those things I actually did; you decide which).. A high-score arena DLC was released yesterday, and the ending hints at more adventures from the Vehicle Team, which would rock, since it had fifteen members, but as it is, the game is too short, too repetitive, and somewhat overpriced.
This review is based on the Xbox Live Arcade version of the game.
The Co-Op Experience: Team up with up to five players for true Voltron action!
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.