October 25, 2010
Review By: Mr. Roboto
Year: 1986, 2005
Developed by: Solid Image Ltd (Glyn Williams, Joey Headen)
Released by: Firebird, Ovine by Design
Platforms: Amstrad CPC, BBC Micro, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Windows
Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: High
Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: High
Overview: Much like Paradroid from our last review, Cholo is another remake from indie game makers Ovine by Design. Originally made for 8-bit systems of the mid-80’s, the new Cholo improves upon the bare-wire-frame graphics for something more Tron-like.
The story carries over from the original, but the new version changes the interface for an FPS feel of looking out a robot’s eye(s) and adds more “rampaks” (upgrades and clues) to the gameplay. Think of it as Paradroid done first-person.
The Story: The city of Cholo was an important asset to allied forces for it’s robotics works. When a nuclear war broke out, Cholo was spared from a direct hit, but radiation made living on the surface impossible, not only for biological reasons but for causing the many robots to go berzerk (obligatory retro game reference) and attack any human they encounter. An underground bunker was built, the remaining people were move inside, and sealed from the robots and radiation. To keep the people occupied, a robot game called RAT was created. You have mastered RAT and have been selected by Cholo’s computer to use those skills to free humanity from the bunker.
To free humanity, you must use the rat-droid to hack into other robots and use their weapons and abilities to find a way to open the pyramid seal and free humanity.
Easy, right? If it really was meant to be easy, it probably wouldn’t be worth playing. Like most any puzzle, a bit of difficulty is expected to make solving all the more satisfying. For Cholo, that puzzle is made all the more difficult because of the buildings; They all look similar outside, making identifying individual dwellings harder. HINT: There’s a map of Cholo that you can print out so you can mark-off buildings you have been inside of. Ovine also gives you a quick-start on how to “capture” your first robot (Igor, the hacker droid). From there, you’re on your own.
A cast of characters. To succeed, you will need to know what robot has what abilities. Starting with the rat-bot you investigate inside buildings, and hijack other bots. Hacker-bot Igor can then access the computer systems inside buildings, but don’t let him get into any fights; Igor has no weapons. Police bots (not to be confused with RoboCop) patrol the streets and guard important areas, while Grundon tank-bots guard the pyramid entrance to the bunker. Leadcoats can access irradiated areas that can harm other bots, while a maintenance bot is available to repair the others. There are a couple of remote camera robots to keep an eye on things (no pun intended), and robotic vehicles to get around town.
Sounds like you everything you need to free humanity… except a solution…
Cool story, bro. One of the key features of Cholo, both versions, is the novella which gives a bit of background to your quest, and possibly some hints.
You are a computer maintenance engineer named Jared. You’ve noticed that there have been an increasing number of malfunctions and failures in the bunker’s systems. This is due to the organic computer that runs the bunker is slowly “dying,” as its protein source is running low. The RAT program that was created was actually a test to find someone able to use the droids to free humanity before the computer dies completely, taking the trapped humans with it as the bunker’s life support systems fail.
Ovine also has a news archive where pre-war news provide more background, and maybe a hint or two. I’d recommend reading everything before diving into the game so you have a better chance as freeing humanity.
Conclusion: While not the easiest puzzle to solve, Cholo is bound to give the adventurous a good reason for playing. Some might consider the visuals rather primitive even by 2005 standards (they must have never played the original version), but that doesn’t seem to deter from the atmosphere. Cholo is one city you should consider visiting, especially if you need a break from your standard FPS blast-a-thons.