Despite the fact Nintendo decided to publish this Namco Bandai title in Europe, Solatorobo has inexplicably had next to no advertising to back up its charms.
It’s a shame, as with its delightful visual style, likeable cast of animal characters and solid gameplay mechanics, Solatorobo is a neat little game that deserves a lot more love.
The story puts the player in control of Red Savarin - a bounty hunter who, on the back of his mech Dahak, stomps about beautiful Studio Ghibli-inspired floating islands taking on jobs simply to make ends meet.
However, in stereotypical video game style, the hero and his team - including Red’s wonderfully titled close friend Chocolat Gelato - leave their humdrum existence behind as they become embroiled in a plot to save their world from impending doom.
While the story treads a well-worn path, it stays interesting thanks to plot twists and a witty translation, which gently nudges the player through the laid-back action.
Solatorobo features rudimentary RPG elements but it never gets bogged down in a glut of stat menus or complicated tech trees. Instead, Dahak’s abilities are boosted by placing power cells inside his metal innards, while Red’s level is raised by getting into scraps with unsavoury mechanical foes.
Red also has a Hunter Rank, which increases as he takes on jobs and rising up the ladder means he can take on tougher offers from the game’s varied cast and earn shiny gold rings.
These optional quests are one of Solatorobo’s strengths, with the player taking on a variety of tasks including scavenging for pictures, exterminating pesky bugs, cleaning areas by shuffling crates around and gladiatorial arena battles.
The real-time combat is decent – if a little repetitive – with Red relying on his robot chum to do the majority of the grunt work.
Picking up enemies and throwing them around is the main focus of the combat, but waiting for the right moment to manhandle your opponent is key. Sweeping around the back of a lumbering foe or launching a mid-air attack are sometimes required, but more often than not, these brawls turn into little more than an exercise in button mashing.
While the vibrant visuals are impressive for the humble DS, the sound quality isn’t great. Even when playing through headphones, the poor sound compression means the light-hearted soundtrack often descends into a tinny mess. Fortunately, Solatorobo has more than enough plus points to make up for its shortcomings.
A healthy selection of collectable trinkets are peppered throughout the adventure, while high flying races - titled Air Robo GP - feature as a bonus mode from the main menu, complete with a local multiplayer option.
With the focus on the hand-held market currently on the 3DS and Sony’s upcoming PSVita, there’s every chance this little gem might slip away unnoticed. But Solatorobo is well worth hunting down and offers a unique and charming adventure on Nintendo's ageing console.