February 27, 1996, a worldwide phenomenon was born. A dream project of a little company known as Game Freak we all know as Pokemon was created. At first it wasn't that popular, but with huge deals with Media Factory, TV Tokyo, Tomy, and Corocoro Comic lead to a craze all over japan, with card games, anime, manga, toys, controversial headlines in the news, events, and yes, even imitators, everyone from Bandai, to Tecmo, to Imagineer, to Konami, to even Nintendo themselves tried to challenge the almighty Pokemon with various degrees of success. Nintendo released two games that never made it out of Japan. One was Card Hero, which was intended for an american release, but was canceled for unknown reasons, Though I do have a theory on it, I'll wait until later into the retrospective to explain. The other game was...
1998's CUSTOM ROBO FOR THE N64!!!!
In this game you are a kid who gets a toy robot named Ray for your birthday, You went all around town to compete in robot battles. you could buy and win robot parts for your robot, Like guns, bomb launches, jetpacks, and even new models. There's 2 gameplay styles, A PS1 RPG style overworld, and a Virtual On mixed with Power Stone Fighting game. You fire out of cannon and depending on what side of the Cube you land on you might have an advantage or disadvantage against the opponent. You could move with the analog stick, do melee attacks with the C Buttons, fire your gun with the A Button, fire bombs with the B Button, fire missiles with the Z Trigger, and Fly and Jump with the R Trigger. Right off the back this game was aimed at young Japanese kids who loved model kits, like the gunpla. This game didn't come out outside of japan, but it sold pretty good, and the one who imported the game enjoyed it, praising it's combat system, fun multiplayer that was similar to Pokemon. Keep in mind this was before the monster collecting thing overstated its welcome. There's no fan translation (seriously Custom Robo Fans, Get a translation ready), but there's a iQue translation for China.
A couple of years later in 2000, We got Custom Robo V2. Basically it takes place after you won the Robo Cup, and you got Ray Mk II, and was basically the same game other wise just more of it, You got a four player mode but good luck finding three others who have the game far enough in it and not on an emulator, even then good luck even finding that. While critics praised the game for it, it got slightly lower scores than it's predecessor for not making any other significant improvements, personally you had more varied arenas, 4 player compatibility and even more parts. It even sold more than the original. No fan translation for this either, but the game was released for the Japanese Wii Virtual Console. Still you can enjoy Both games without knowing any Japanese since the big gap for you is the story but even then that won't be a problem if/when we get a fan translation.
Why wasn't this game released in the US, It would've Kicked ASS!!!!! Gundam and Pokemon were extremely popular there at the time of it's relaese... I've got a theory, again, this is just a theory, So if I'm wrong please don't yell at me. Monster collecting franchises were ever where, while everyone remembers Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh, and some people have fond memories of Digimon, maybe Cardcaptors (maybe not with fond memories), and even Medabots/Medarot, I dare you to find one person you know personally who actually remembers Monster Rancher, or hell, Dragon Quest Monsters or even Robopon. Nintendo might have thought that there was no sense saturating the market with more monster collecting games, since Pokemon was paying all their bills after the N64 didn't live up to early expectations. So no Card Hero or Custom Robo for us dumb Americans.
In 2002, there was Custom Robo GX for the Game Boy Advance. It was a 2D rendition of the Custom Robo Formula. It was scaled down and the story mode felt like a visual novel more than anything. This game had a much larger language barrier than the original, and it just wasn't as well received as the previous installments. A US Release was planned but canceled for unknown reasons. I've got no theory on that. *Shrugs* A sequel was planned but canceled due to the DS.
In 2004 we've got a new Custom Robo Game for the Gamecube. This time it came out in the US, but not in PAL Regions. The gameplay was in Full 3D, and was darker than the previous installments. It had improved graphics, more customization, and a grittier art style compared to the Corocoro Comic style of the N64 Games. Despite the improvements, it got pretty mixed reviews overall. At least you got your Robot Model Kit Action in 'Murica.
2 years later in japan and a year after that worldwide (yes even PAL Regions), We got Custom Robo Arena. It was the true sequel to the N64 games. It had the indepth story of the Gamecube Title, with the kid friendly style of N64 and GBA Titles. You also got online play. The overworld was in full 2D. It had the same amount of fun of previous titles, but it falls into the realm of "same as last year syndrome". It did meet with generally positive reviews, but ouside of a cameo in Smash Bros Brawl, that's about it. No game is in development, and even of it was, it'd have to play second banana to Pokemon. So that was Custom Robo an Underrated Nintendo Franchise with a Cult Following. Here's hopes that one day we get a Wii U, 3DS, or Even NX Title.
Yoshiette 1: He's alive doctor...