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Armbots (series)

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Developer(s) Vector Gaming, Inc., Ignite Software
Publisher(s) Vector Gaming, Inc.
Genre(s) Open-world sandbox, action, shoot 'em up, hack 'n' slash.
First Game Armbots
2001, Gamecube
Most Recent Game Project Above Skies
2015, Wii U eShop
Gamecube, Playstation 2, Game Boy Advance, Wii, Nintendo DS, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, iOS, Android, PC

Armbots is a series of hack 'n' slash open world games about the legion of the Nanobots fighting against the threat of the Nazobots in a planet called Nova. In each game, the player takes control of one of the Nanobots' army members (with the exception of Armbots 9: Blade's Mission, in which the player take control of the series recurring anti-hero, Blade and other games in which the player takes control of other characters that aren't a part of either legion) fighting against the threat of the week. Created by Vector Gaming, Inc., the series begun in 2001 with the release of Armbots for the Nintendo Gamecube. Since then it spawned 12 other installments of the main franchise, alongside many side games and another media, including an animated cartoon (Armbots Generals: Battle for Nova), an upcoming CGI/live action hybrid film (Armbots) and a comic book series (Armbots 2199).

The series attempted a reboot in 2014 with the release of Armbots N.O.V.A. for the Wii U, trying to pick up after the failure of the latest game of the main franchise, Armbots Twelve: An Enigmatic Threat. N.O.V.A itself suffered from worse fan reception and it was even a bigger failure than Twelve, making the possibility of a continuation of the reboot series unknown at this point, the sequel was put on hold and on it's release date was released Armbots Online, an online free-to-play shooter which was met with great reception by fans and critics alike. In 2015, Vector Gaming, Inc. released Project Above Skies, a title that didn't seemed to have any connection to the previous installments, until it was revealed at the end of the game that it was a teaser for Armbots Thirteen: Above Skies.


Armbots began development as a Nintendo 64 title, under the title of MechWar 64 and it was shown off at E3 1998. Until then, no news about the game were made and it seemed like the ambitious title was cancelled. What actually happened was a trouble development behind the scenes, because what the creators wanted wasn't possible to do on the Nintendo 64 and so it was remade from scratch multiple times. When the Gamecube was announced, most of the things that they couldn't do in the Nintendo 64 was made possible on the Gamecube and as such, Armbots later reappeared in E3 2001 as a Gamecube title and it was released on the system in December 9, 2001. The surprise success from critics and the general public of the first game led to work on a sequel and a portable spin off for the upcoming Game Boy Advance.

To make development on the spin-off easier, the developers let the company Ignite Software, to work on the spinoff Armbots Adventure, while the company worked on Armbots Two: Second Operation. After hearing about the game's success, Sony approached the company to work on a port of the first and second game for the PS2. Vector Gaming, not wanting to delay the second game, let Ignite Software to work on the port of the first game while leaving the spin-off on hold. Six months later, Armbots: Mission Zero was made for the PS2. The port was regarded as inferior by critics, mostly because the game was made under a strict release date that could not be delayed. The poor sales of the game didn't helped as well, so development on the second game's port was cancelled. Ignite Software later returned to work on Armbots Adventure and later Vector Gaming released Armbots Two, which was considered by many fans to be the best of the series and it recieved the higher scores that the series had, until Armbots Seven was released and had a higher score than Two. Adventure was released three months after Two, unlike the creators planned, which was meant to both games come out at the same time. Adventure recieved a critical reception lower than Zero, critics said that everything that was fun in Armbots to begin with was replaced with a generic shoot 'em up game without the weapon and robot creating system that the series was known for. After the failures of Zero and Adventure, Vector Gaming decided to take a brake before continuing work on the series.

Announced in middle 2003, Armbots Three: Tornado of Torment was announced to be released on the Gamecube late that year. Tornado of Torment was a base breaker for the fans of the series, while many fans liked it's plot and characters, some where a bit torn apart on the fact that the game wouldn't have any new gameplay mechanics and would only add new pieces for creating weapons and robots. Torment saw the introduction of Blade, who would later get his own game on the Nintendo DS. Ignite Software was tasked on to work another installment for the GBA to serves as a game to keep fans hyped to the yet to be announced at the time fourth installment of the series. This led to the release of Armbots Adventure II: Operation Ignis, considered better than Armbots Adventures by adding features that were famous in the console games (like swordplay, weapon construction) but it was still critizied for being somewhat short and not having much replay value. Operation Ignis is also the first Armbots game to feature competitive multiplayer, in which two players could fight against each other with the Game Boy Link.

After the release of Operation Ignis, Armbots Four: A Race Against Time was announced. A Race Against Time would introduce new features in the Armbots franchise, including time manipulation mechanics and the ability to upgrade weapons and armor, a feature previously introduced in Operation Ignis. A Race Against Time is considered better than the third installment, but not as good as the second installment, critics mentioned that the new gameplay mechanics are not used well and while fun, the game can be beat without using them. Armbots Four came with a copy of Armbots in regions where the game wasn't released before, such as South Korea and Taiwan.

Between the fourth and fifth installments, Ignite Software worked on a PC spin-off called Armbots Mutations, which was different from previous installments and included randomly-generated locations and enemies. Mutations was very well recieved and the engine used for Mutations was later reused for the 2013 rerelease on Steam of Armbots Trilogy. Armbots Five: Apocalypse Ahead was released in Early 2006 and it was the first one to be released on the Wii. Apocalypse Ahead ended the story that was first introduced in the first game and it led to the creation to a new story. Apocalypse Ahead suffered from the same problem as Tornado of Torment, while it had nice characters and story, the gameplay mechanics didn't introduced anything new and previous gameplay mechanics introduced in A Race Against Time weren't improved.

While it seemed like Armbots Five would be the last one to be released on Gamecube, Armbots Six: Rise of the Phoenix was announced to be released on the Gamecube and Wii. Six was the last one to be released on the Gamecube and introduced the storyline that would end on Armbots Ten. Six made the time changing mechanics from the fourth game were made important against certain enemies and bosses, while weapons also recieved elemental ammo. Six also introduces the ability to play as the recurring mechanic Greystar for the first time in the series. While better than Five, Six received a slightly lower score than Five, because it was made with the Gamecube in mind and it was released in 2007, on the time where Wii graphics were blown away by the release of Super Mario Galaxy and the graphics for Six were outdated by the time of release.

After average sales of the sixth game, Vector Gaming and Ignite Software temporarily fused together to create a hybrid company to make something better and that would try push the Wii to the limits. The game ended up being Armbots Seven: Hopeless Situation, released in late 2008, a game that was specifically made for the Wii system. While the graphics were considered a major improvement from the sixth game, the game suffered for the fact that since it had better graphics, it didn't had much space for levels and weapons, so the number of levels and weapons are smaller than other games. Seven ended up being the shortest mainstream title and the third overall shortest title in the entire franchise.

Vector Gaming and Ignite Software later separted, and Ignite Software started working on a sequel to Armbots Mutations, while Vector Gaming started to work on the eight installment of the series. Before the eight game started, the company decided to make a New Play Control version of Armbots to make up for the average sales that Seven got. New Play Control! Armbots sold well enough to guarantee work on the eight installment of the series. Armbots Mutations 2 was released and introduced the gameplay mechanics from the fourth and seventh installment in the main game, alongside online multiplayer. Mutations 2 sold even better than New Play Control! Armbots, which led to Vector Gaming ask to Ignite Software to work on a Wii port of Mutations. What originally started out as a port became the third installment of the Mutation series, called Armbots World Mutation featuring a larger overworld and the same improvements of the second installment, which sold just as much as the seventh game, due poor marketing.

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