One of my favourite games as a youngster was James Pond 2: Codename Robocod.
A colourful platformer set in the winter wonderland of Santa’s toy factory, Robocod is all about making your way through a myriad of bold and brash levels with the aim of saving Santa’s elves. Don’t let its festive theme put you off though; Robocod is absolutely brilliant all year round.
Originally released back in 1991 (!), James Pod 2: Codename Robocod has been released on numerous platforms over the last 28 years. Originally available on Sega Mega Drive, Atari and Amiga (the format I first played it on), it later came to Game Gear, PC, Game Boy, SNES, Nintendo DS, and PlayStations 1 through 3. And now a brand new format is added to the list: Nintendo Switch.
Stealth released and available from today, Robocod on the Switch is pretty much just how I remember it. Despite its advancing years, it looks surprisingly sharp. Character models are beautifully rendered, and only the game’s somewhat shonky background textures reveal the game’s age.
Best of all, though: Robocod on the Switch has the one feature from the game’s Amiga days that hasn’t always made it into each new port: the invincibility cheat.
Perhaps this was the sole reason why I enjoyed the game so much when I was just a nipper. Right at the start of the game, you’ll jump up onto a wall, and be presented with five collectible icons. Pick them up in any old order and nothing will happen. However, collect them in a certain order and you’ll unlock invincibility, meaning no enemies, spikes or traps can injure you. I remember it just like it was yesterday: Cake, Hammer, Earth, Apple, Tap. It spells “CHEAT”. Clever, eh?
The invincibility lasts a little while; it’s not permanent, but every time you go back to the game’s hub world you can reactivate it by collecting the items in the same order again.
But invincibility cheat or not, Robocod is a wonderful game. If you played this as a kid, revisiting again on Switch is a fantastic nostalgia-fuelled exercise. But even if you have never played it before, I’d wager that it still holds up today as a solid 2D platformer. You can download it now from the eShop for £9.99.