The late 80’s and early 90’s were a great time to be a kid. Computer generated effects were in their infancy, the Nintendo Entertainment System was at its peak, and many awesomely-bad sci-fi movies were being pumped out like no tomorrow. My favorite brand of those films were the ones based around video games that tried to kill the players for real. Just think about it. What if Nintendo had the cojones to instal crazy military programing into Robbie The Robot? Gyromite would’ve been a hell of a lot more difficult, I tell ya what. I’ll do you one better. What if Q from Star Trek: TNG was responsible for programing and designing the robot? We’d be in for a world of shit. EVOLVER is about that very thing.
( GENERIC SPOILER ALERT )
After spending a Thanksgiving in the DUTCH Dooley school of hard knocks, Ethan Embry mellowed out and became your average video game ace/computer hacker. When the local arcade throws a contest, Kyle Baxter (Ethan’s character) can’t pass up the chance to destroy everyone and bring home the coveted prize….the home version of EVOLVER, a first person shoot ’em up that takes place in virtual reality (you can’t see it, but I’m giving the scary-eyes and fingers). Now, for those of you who don’t remember, or weren’t alive back then, we use to actually strap on target sensors and run around shooting each other with laser guns for fun. If a robot was involved, all the better. Robots are cool. Where was I? Oh, right. So, Kyle fudges the game’s high scores via the interwebs and becomes the first person to test out the robit at home.
Basic EVOLVER rules: shoot the robit until the robit is out of hit points, advance to the next level, repeat rule 1 until you get to level 4. With each advancement in level, the robit “evolves” to make your life suck just a little bit more (especially once it becomes sentient). These basic rules would be fine in normal situations. Sadly, Q (or John de Lancie as he’s better known) uses the same programing for EVOLVER that he used for his botched military project named “S.W.O.R.D.” ( Strategic War Oriented Robotic Device ). Smooth move, ex-lax. Now the robit, who is voiced by William H. Macy of all people, has a taste for blood.
Burning lasers, ball-bearings, electric shocks, and few rather cool Decepticon-esque transformations are a part of EVOLVER‘s arsenal. The one I liked best was when he took one of the player’s guns, hooked it up to a kaleidoscope, and charged it with wires like MacGyver, creating a burning laser prison. Very crafty.
EVOLVER is a fun, nostalgic, romp for kids aged 30-37. It has everything: a killer robit, Q, com-pu-tors, bullies with Zack Morris hair, jock man-butt for the ladies, briefly unclothed boobies for the fellas, and a pre-Empire Records Ethan Embry.
(for more fun with killer robits, check out the movie Chopping Mall a.k.a. Killbots)