Biomotor Unitron is the latest in SNKs series of rereleases of games from the Neo Geo Pocket Color. The game was the systems first RPG when it released back in 1999 and tasks you with upgrading and customizing your mech to take on enemies. The game released for Nintendo Switch on May 26th 2022.
The story of the game takes place in a world where a meteor crashed onto the planet, releasing a new energy source that led to the creation of the Unitrons, giant mech like robots that brought peace to the games world. Fast forward to now where the Unitron robots are used for entertainment, with Unitron Masters battling it out in an arena.
You play as your own character selected from several different species and your goal is to become the best Unitron Master of all, the “Master of Masters”. The story takes a backseat in this game and really focuses on the mech customization gameplay, with the story mostly being told through the opening credits. NPCs around the games main town also give bits of information about the story to fill in some gaps but the game definitely has a heavy focus on the gameplay.
The gameplay is split into two main sections: fighting in the arena to increase your rank or exploring one of the four elemental dungeons to improve your Unitron. Exploring these dungeons is where you’ll spend the majority of your time. Each of the four dungeons has an element associated with it which dictates the type of enemies found and what their weaknesses are. The dungeons are fairly straightforward with them being semi-random layouts with chests scattered around the floors which can help you get valuable upgrades for your Unitron. At the end of each dungeon is a boss. After spending time in the dungeons you can return to the town and use the resources collected to upgrade your Unitron so that you can take on stronger enemies. After upgrading your Unitron, the arena is your next stop. Each rank of the arena is set out as a gauntlet of battles to tackle to reach the next rank. Along with clearing the dungeons, attaining the highest rank in the arena is the main goal of the game.
The gameplay loop of exploring the dungeons to upgrade your Unitron is very satisfying and seeing how your mech progresses over time is a highlight of the game. The combat itself plays out like a typical turn based JRPG with you choosing from your Unitrons equipped arms to attack while managing your energy levels. The customization system is fairly deep, with many different combinations of components that let you customize your mech to your hearts content or prepare for a specific dungeon by changing your elemental affinities to target enemy weaknesses. Overall, the gameplay is fun and the progression of the game feels satisfying with meaningful upgrades despite feeling like a grind sometimes. However the dungeons can feel bland at times due to their simplicity.
The games visual style is what you’d expect from a NGPC game: fairly simple environments with fantastic sprite art. The games character art is great and each of the games characters feels unique. The customization aspect of the Unitrons actually changes the appearance of your mech depending on what components are equipped which really lets you make your Unitron your own creation.
The enemy sprites are also unique and fit their themes well. The soundtrack is full of the retro charm you’d expect from classic JRPGs. Overall, I feel the game is presented well, particularly how you can visually customize your Unitron to your hearts content.
Overall, Biomotor Unitron is a fun if not grindy RPG with some great customization elements and good progression. However, there is very little in the way of story so the games world and characters don’t feel very memorable or fleshed out.
A fun Mech customization RPG with satisfying progression that would have benefitted from a more fleshed out story.