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.
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.