The latest volume of “Atomic Robo,” subtitled “The Flying She-Devils of the Pacific,” is good fun by the series’ reliable standards. After the title character runs afoul of some unknown airborne fighter craft in the Pacific, he’s subsequently rescued by the title characters. Women who took up the call to industry in WWII but didn’t want to go back to their mundane lives and struck out on a life of adventure instead. Seeing Robo team up with them to combat a dormant menace from the war is as fun as it sounds, and it’s enough to mitigate my (admittedly mild) disappointment in knowing we’ll have to wait a while to find out what happens in the present day after the events of “The Ghost of Station X.”
More compelling than the story itself is the idea for a videogame based on this particular volume that it inspired in me.
Early on, Captain May Carter explains to Robo that after WWII the American and Japanese armies left lots of military goods and infrastructure all around the Pacific. The She Devils’ gig is that they find these stashes before people with less ethics than them do, and they continue to carve out a life on their secret island base. Carter lets us know that there’s enough out there to start another world war and the scramble for all of these items has reshaped the pacific. I could’ve sworn that she likened it to the Wild West, but I can’t find the quote for some reason. Anyhow, Robo winds up joining their group just in time for them to take out the biggest and baddest of these threats.
So where does the game come from? Easy. You play as Robo or one of the other girls, strap on a jetpack and go flying through the Pacific to take out bad pirates, find secret military stashes, dig up buried treasure (because why not), and execute sweet aerial moves in full 3D space all the while. Imagine “Zelda: The Wind Waker” crossed with “Skyrim” and you’ll get a pretty good idea of the kind of open-world action I have in mind here. The She-Devils’ base would serve as a hub for all the action and you’d hit nearby islands at your whim or on information you’d get from talking to unsavory locals at Pete’s Safe Haven or other encampments around the ocean.
As for the jetpack-centered gameplay, I can’t remember the last 3D game I played with that mechanic so it’s kind of hard to articulate the kind of feel I’d want from it. Ideally you’d have full mobility throughout the world, but also constantly be fighting against the forces of gravity too. Though fuel is a concern in the comic, I’d throw out any kind of need for it in the game since I can’t imagine that having to constantly worry about it would make things more fun. If it’s challenge people want, then they can get that through shooting down the bad guys either on ground or in the air. One thing that having a jetpack does for the She Devils in the comic is that it allows them to get onto their targets and plant bombs or take them out up close and personal. That’s a mechanic I’d fully endorse in the game itself. Particularly if you’re playing as Robo since that’d give you license to go right up to someone and punch them out ten thousand feet above sea level. Is there anyone who wouldn’t want to do something like that?!
Currently there is an “Atomic Robo” game on the way called “Violent Science” for iOS. I’ve seen the trailer and it looks like nice enough 2D platforming action game with an emphasis on constant forward momentum -- more Sonic than Mario in other words. Though I have an iPhone I can’t imagine something like that playing too well on its small screen, so I’ll check it out if I can trick... er, convince one of my iPad-owning friends to download it. Even so, I think that I’m going to look at any kind of “Atomic Robo” game with a bit of disappointment as I think, “But it’s not the one that ‘I’ wanted.” I’ll get over it eventually, but Brian, Scott, if you’re reading this then feel free to take this idea and run with it. I want to see it become a reality more than I want compensation for it!