Review: “Robot Combat League” Lives Up to the Hype, But Takes Too Long to Get There Thumbnail

Review: “Robot Combat League” Lives Up to the Hype, But Takes Too Long to Get There

Our most anticipated game show of the year so far has been, without question, Syfy’s Robot Combat League.  From the day it was announced, our interest was piqued.  It’s gigantic robots kicking the hell out of each other.  How could you not be somewhat interested?  However, yes, while the idea sounds interesting there was concern about how it would look on television.  TV budgets aren’t mammoth, especially cable budgets.  Could Syfy pull off a game of robot boxing without it seeming dumb, corny, or uninteresting.  The debut episode has been posted on Hulu (among other places) to preview before next week’s debut.  We’re relieved to say Robot Combat League more than lives up to its hype, but it takes a bit too long to get there.

In the series twelve teams, comprised of a fighter and an engineer, battle each other to be the last robot standing and take home $100,000.  If your robot is unable to move after each 20 minute tune-up period, or you are knocked out during a fight and unable to continue, you are eliminated.  At least in the first episode an initial game was played to determine rankings.  Players had to hit a target on a test robot as fast as they can in order to get a high seed.

Let’s be honest: the reason reason we’re watching is to see robots fight.  You’ll be happy to know it works well and looks cool.  We saw the pictures and understand that when the fighter moves his or her arm, the robot does also.  It’s not until you see it in action that you understand how unbelievable it is.  I was blown away and shouting at the TV during the fight.  Beyond the robots, though, you’ll end up liking the teams.  They’re smart, compelling, and not the typical annoying, constantly shouting game show contestant.  For the actual reasons you watch, the show is great.

The fighter prepares to strike

The fighter prepares to strike

However, it takes too long getting there.  We are two acts in before we even get to any actual robot content.  It’s not until 30 minutes in that the fight starts, though there is the warm-up game before that.  I understand you want to give context to the teams and explain how these works, but no one watching really cares.  People are watching to see robots beat each other up.  I’m hoping the pace will improve further into the series, since things obviously need explained in week one, but let’s get to the actual fights sooner.  I will note, though, that the pre-game content isn’t all contestant drama.  There is a good deal of science in this.  Engineers explain how the robots work, how they were tested, built, and more.  There’s something for everyone.

If you were excited to watch Robot Combat League, you won’t be disappointed.  If you were on the fence, I think you’ll end up liking it.  It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come in just the few short years since BattleBots.  Robot Combat League is the most compelling, exciting, ass-kicking reality competition on television currently.  If you watch you’re going to be hooked.  Trust me, you’ll enjoy it.  Want to see a fight in action?  Take a look below.  We’ve truncated the clip to only show the fight.  You can go back and watch the rest if you want.

Alex Davis

About the Author

has written 3437 articles on BuzzerBlog.

Alex Davis is an award winning writer and producer based out of Pittsburgh, PA, who works out of New York, Los Angeles, and London. Alex is the head writer and editor for BuzzerBlog and is the president and head of development of 5Hole Productions, specializing in unscripted formats for television and internet play.

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121 responses to "Review: “Robot Combat League” Lives Up to the Hype, But Takes Too Long to Get There"

  • Jeremy says:

    If the explosions were syned with hits the show would be more beliveable but the not amd that’s the shows downs fall. I watched the last show and the one robot wasn’t evem hitting the other one and there were sparks flying then I think that’s what lead to the robot breaking in two show sucks plans amd simple synce the hits with the sparks and it may be better

  • jonpluc says:

    Ponderous and fake. An hour for a 3 minute fight. The sparks that fly all over from a supposed blow are sparkler fireworks that fire off when sensors are hit in certain sections.

  • Dude says:

    Wow, this show sucks. The people who leave good reviews should step in front of a train.

  • Ron says:

    These are not robots with “ground breaking” technology. They are not robots at all. They ARE big clumsy remote controlled vehicles. Robots are autonomous, operating independent of human control. This show is beyond terrible, beyond boring and a spit-in-the-face insult to people who work in genuine robotics. Disgusting tripe and out right fakery.
    By the way folks. Robot Wars and Battlebots also were not robots, but remote controlled vehicles. A world of difference.

    This is SyFy’s Honey Boo Boo. A whole new low.

  • EODGhost says:

    Just watched an episode and it is clearly garbage. The robots are flimsy and unrealistically poorly constructed. Anyone with a little common sense would protect hydraulic hoses and cables a little better. Most robots have exposed and easily damaged mid-sections. Hit them in the gut and the topple over.
    The sparks and fluid spraying everywhere is just for show and further takes from the realism. But hey, if you’re twelve, then it’s a pretty cool show

  • Robot show geek says:

    C’mon the show definitely has its merits. For those of you who think you are better engineers than the ones on the show: Imagine what it would cost to build several 8 feet-tall robots, body armour, body design, etc. etc. Yes, we do have wireless technology, RC technology, but unlike battlebots, you’ll need to design a machine that has mutliple articulated joints, on top of that use material that can whitstand several pounds of force. On wireless tech: yes, hollywood may have the technology available, but in a rock ‘em sock ‘em scenario such as this, if a robot hits the wireless transmitter or disables it…the robot’s a goner. Heaven forbid, the robot accidentally messes up it’s own transmitter then it just disabled itself.

    I do agree the sparks really look fake, and some of the fluid spraying too. But overall, I have to say I really enjoy this show and I do hope it gets enough support and really build this into something like Real Steel! “If you have one shot, make it real!”

    For a first attempt, it’s really pretty good. GEEKS rule. ;) Besides, my girlfriend loves watching me having fun watching it.

  • Tom says:

    This comment section looks as real as the show. With Dr. Fred over here probably trying to save his show and his @ss. Well dr. Fred, maybe I can’t build silly robots that make a mockery of the science, and maybe I can’t make a deal with a network to air it, but I do still get to say that it sucks. Good luck lasting another season as I too am disappointed. 5 minutes in.

  • MadJimFlynt says:

    Listening to Fred ramble on about building 12 robots is actually more interesting than this program. It is more scripted than WWF professional wrestling. Very disappointed in SyFy. Bring back Battlebots.

  • Captain Morgan says:

    Christ Fred;

    You got shares in SyFy or something?

  • Nitro Focus says:

    Hi there, after reading this remarkable piece of writing i am
    also happy to share my experience here with mates.

  • Chris Hill says:

    This is the start of robot fighting…..If you cant see the potential you are extremely short sighted.
    50 years from today they will look back at this show as the start of it.
    Its slow, its clunky, the people are somewhat annoying and yet the potential is amazing and its only going to get better guys.
    Yea there are lots of fake sparks and bad designs but jeez, its a TV show, what the hell else do you want, sorry we dont have the tech to build real steel just yet ! But it will come, I believe that it really will come.
    Couldnt actually believe that we are this far on, compared to those poxy little robots on wheels from years ago which was totally boring. This actually has real moments of fighting that really work !!

  • Chris Hill says:

    This is the start of robot fighting…..If you cant see the potential you are extremely short sighted.
    50 years from today they will look back at this show as the start of it.
    Its slow, its clunky, the people are somewhat annoying and yet the potential is amazing and its only going to get better guys.
    Yea there are lots of fake sparks and bad designs but jeez, its a TV show, what the hell else do you want, sorry we dont have the tech to build real steel just yet ! But it will come, I believe that it really will come.
    Couldnt actually believe that we are this far on, compared to those poxy little robots on wheels from years ago which was totally boring. This actually has real moments of fighting that really work !!
    Loving it !!

  • FrankieNeedles says:

    The show is awesome. I am very into robots and all things science. For everyone out there who does not know how things work, I am going to go over a few things.
    The show is just beginning and some things have to fall into place on their own. After the fight where thunderskull was disqualified the show started using a red light and countdown audible timer to indicate the round is coming to an end. They have not figured out everything yet but it is season 1. The reasoning for each robot to have a similar skeleton so these robots are easy to produce replacement parts. This also gives the robots some sort of level ground. The robots also aren’t built like tanks because they wouldn’t do much damage in 2 rounds fully armored. The show was probably made this way to “Spark” the interest of sponsors and other robotics enthusiasts. Until people start bringing their own robots to the competition, they will be using the robots provided. The spark special effects was necessary for television to make it asthetically pleasing. I just wish they built the robots with multiple redundancies in all parts of the robots so the sparks would occur naturally as the power traveling through all the wires can short and spark without special effects teams. I still like the sparks right now but again, this is the first season so they will have to figure some things out. Overall the show is great and yes , while you have to wait for the actual fighting to begin it is worth it. I think in season 2 the teams should all begin with the same skeleton and they can design the exterior armor and style of their robots afterwards. The show can show clips of the teams personal development of the robots as they prepare the robots for the fights.

  • Dan Klimke says:

    Rock em, socknem bullshit. These bots are cool the idea is interesting but everything else gets in the way. A 12 part series about Mark constructing these machines would be infinitely more interesting.

  • FREDisgay says:

    This Fred fucker that comments on how good this show is the real builder of these works of “art”. He built his robotic boyfriend with the pyrotechnics set to go off when he penetrates his metal asshole oh ya if he hits it anywhere let lube oil just rains on him. He must love being a robot fuck boy. This show is fake garbage but this post is not!

  • Scytale says:

    All fake just like pro wrestling, it could have been amazing thing, but we get sexy girls, mindless hype and imitation competition.

  • Illbethejudge says:

    If syfy’s gonna have a combat show, at least be fair and crown those who actually won….. ie Scorpio, Cyclone…

  • James says:

    The arguments back and forth about whether aspects of this show are faked or not are not even hitting the right target as far as I’m concerned.
    The real question to me, is how much emotional commitment can you invest in an inanimate (essentially) object in the first place?
    It wouldn’t matter any more to me if the “robots” weren’t supported by a bar welded to their ass, or didn’t emit fake sparking action. They could look like The Terminator, and engage in Matrix-like kung fu battles, but will still just be a hunk of metal.
    I just can’t work up much care over which one wins or loses any more than if they were remotely controlled cars smashing into each other.

  • cornea503 says:

    I must admit, was a little episode after the first couple of fights but has gotten progressively better as the contestants have gotten the hang of it. The last few fights have been pretty cool so I must say I really like this show and hope it continues on to future seasons with more advanced robots. The only complaint I have, which has actually gotten better is that they were focusing too much on the people at first and not as much on the robots.

  • Vicky says:

    *steps in front of a train*

    I loved this show. Battling robots could eventually become a new sport with Crash as it’s very first champion. Weather they are considered robots or robotic puppets I still had a lot of fun watching it. It will only get better as our technology advances. I hope there will be more seasons of Robot Combat League upcoming.

  • Reality says:

    You people are hopeless. This show is completely fake
    I’m sure you guys DVR shows like reality shows like “operation Repo” and “Urban Tarzan” which are both staged to entertain simpletons like yourselves. This is sad and proof there is no hope for our country’s future.

  • Olaf the Proud says:

    I watch a lot of dumb shows while i play StarCraft so i watched the whole show. The idea is cool I hold hope that they do a better job if they do another season .
    1 I would like to see a bunch of different robotics firms put together robots of their own design film the building and design of the robots first 10 of the season break then 10 of fights bring back an intelligent aspect to reality shows.
    2 Drop Chris Jerico and get Bill Nye as an announcer.
    3 Get rid of the fake pyro crap.
    I hold out hope that the discovery,TLC,Sci, Syfi channels start paying atantion to the people and what they want. Look at the down fall of G4 tech the channel was amazing when they had well thought out shows about computers, programming , tips and tech when they dropped that and went for the trash and selling out giving bad reviews for gaming they died. I soon might go they way of my friends and drop cable all together and just get internet I see more entertaining stuff on the net and for free with out advertising and would be willing to pay them a fee to watch there material . TV watch out the small guys are gonna take you out if you keep shoving your crap down our throats.

  • Polis says:

    I am a great fan of the noble sport of robot fightin. Marrk Satracian is the saint of the sport. His beautiful but fragile creations have shown everyone else what is possible. The first one I saw was a robot snake that worked like nothing else. Of course it was smashed to bits by a brutal powerful wedge robot but it was gat while it lasted. Robot combat league has to be his masterpiece. They look like the antique game “rocket Sockem”. Robots. But these spout jets of hydraulic fluid then break in half. Instead of popping their heads off. Their waists are their weak spot followed by their. Shoulders.. A good hit in either place can finish most of them. There are five actuators that hold up the waist and allow it movement. I think they are the evolutionary descendant of the old snake bots. The winners hadppenrd to have the best abdominal brotection. As for the controls, wow. A step far beyond the model airplane controls most others use.

    As for the show itself, pure hype. Have you ever been part of a real robot fightin. Audience ?
    You never saw so many geek badges. Of course I count myself in that description. As for the Scifi. Channel production the audience all look like teen models. I bet they all came from an. Agency. The hosts announce the standard reality show hype. With endless personal interviews as filler around the real action. The real heros were the guys who had to do rhe work repairing these things in between rounds. Mr Satracian was of course foremost among those guys. He said, “These things were built to be destroyed”. Well this show sure ran well. So what is next? I can’t wait to see!!

    • Polis says:

      I hate the auto spelling dingy It just mangled the above post. I’m going to turn it off. Don’t ever want to se it again

  • FredsFeelingsSeemHurt says:

    I couldn’t respond to any of “Fred’s” comments- so I’ll just say it here- why are you so arse-hurt?

    You continually re-issue the challenge: ‘Let’s see you do it, not easy, it’s entertainment. . . ‘

    Does that last part mean that you, too can see right through this sorry show?

    Check this out, Fred- I am a professional, federally licensed aircraft mechanic, and I deal with cutting edge technology and hydraulics every day. As it happens, I’m also a robot builder, and have built combat machines before. So I can and have built similar machines, oh- except for one thing- mine were real, could stand on their own, carry their own power source, and move around freely.

    There is no “technology” to speak of involved with these “robot” puppets. At least, not any that hasn’t been around since 1950 or so. The “robots” which are tethered, unable to stand or move on their own, are nothing more than a few actuators (common, simple) a spark shooter, and pre-rigged to blow hydraulic hoses set up on a frame. In fact, calling it a “robot” is a stretch. Nothing amazing. The WALDO controls are not that impressive, considering the extremely limited movements of the “robots.” Anyone saying that there is any appreciable level of recent technology at work is either a shill, or not very informed about the subject on which the opine.

    So, now you’ve heard it from someone who can build robots- these “robots” are laughable, and not at all impressive (to adults.) I’m obviously not going to meet your challenge, because SYFY is obviously not going to fund my attempt. But if they did, I bet I could replicate their technological feat pretty easily.

    Oh wait- maybe I couldn’t- Because if they gave me the amount they blew on these crappy puppets that can’t even really hurt each other, I’d be forced by my own sense of quality to use that money to produce some individual, mobile, dangerous machines. In other words, real battle robots.

    So, instead of repeating your toothless challenge, why don’t you (or anyone) tell us what would be hard about building something that has less “technology” in it than a modern riding mower? You tell us what’s great about them, or *you* STFU.

    Cost money to do? Yes.
    Take effort to complete? Yes.
    Cutting edge technology of any kind? No.
    Real combat? Not in any way.
    Entertainment? Yes. Worthwhile entertainment? No, unless it’s to come from the responses I get to this reality check. . .

    Flame away, dudes!

  • Frank says:

    Fred, you are very easily impressed. No I could not build 12 robots bla bla bla. What they can do is write a script and hire actors or people to play all these fake parts. It’s a movie made with very bad special effects. I’m not an engineer but was a mechanic for 40 years, and parts with I quote “12 screws” don’t just fly off. Want proof, put a 14-20 screw in a piece of metal and hit it with a hammer, after that tell me parts just fly off in one piece. It’s all faked with pyrotechnics and remotely exploding pieces. The people on the show probably don’t even “drive” the puppets on bars. Oh one more thing I love the weapons on the last episode, They where so light the contestants easily lift them with no problem, what damage can you do with a piece of aluminum?

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