When Battroborg hit shelves in Japan last June we were, admittedly, a tad jealous. Where were our tiny, motion controlled boxing bots? Well, if you can be just a bit more patient, the vicious little toys should be landing stateside in time for Christmas. Tomy was nice enough to bring them by our office for a little preview and to help us work out some intra-office tension. So, beyond the obvious Wii and Rock'em Sock'em Robots comparisons, what's it like piloting these puny pugilists through battle? Head on after the break for impressions, pics and a dose of combat -- Engadget style.
When Tomy rep, Jamie Kieffer, took out the Battroborgs we were immediately struck by how small they were. Maybe previous coverage didn't give us proper perspective, but at about two or three inches tall, they're damn-near pocketable, which was a tad unexpected. In fact, if we didn't think they were a precursor to our Real Steel fantasies coming true, we'd say they were cute. Their exceptionally light plastic bodies have two arms with joints at the elbow and shoulder, which allow them to throw straight rights and jabs. We also discovered, accidentally, that if you pop the elbow joint out of place you can "teach" the little guys to throw a hook. The controller bears obvious similarities to the Wii controller and Nunchuk. Two white plastic parts are connected by a thin cord with the larger half housing four AA batteries and an on off switch. Both pieces house accelerometers that translate your furious flurries into robot rights and lefts.
Operation is pretty simple. A small connector on the front of the controller lets you dock a robot and charge it for up to 20 minutes of continuous combat. When its time to do battle you flick a tiny switch on the back of your Battroborg then turn on the controller (in that order, please) to pair the two using 2.4GHz wireless. Communication between the two is instantaneous and, even with four slugging it out simultaneously, there seemed to be no interference from the devices. In fact, TOMY claims you can have up to 20 of them slug it out simultaneously. While the punching controls are pretty self explanatory, moving about takes some adjustment. Since a single motor drives the whole bot, moving forward is accomplished through throwing a series of alternating punches. (Throwing one punch over and over will spin you in a circle.)
Battroborgs should be hitting American retailers in time Christmas, with two bots and an arena expected to cost between $70 and $80. While additional combatants can be purchased separately for around $30.
Edgar Alvarez contributed to this report.