Coming to Sy Fy channel at the end of February, Sy Fy is debuting a new combat sports show that has neither real people hitting each other, nor virtual people doing that. In fact, they are robots pummeling each other, and the series is called “Robot Combat League”. I got a copy of the first episode of the series, courtesy of Sy Fy, and here are my initial thoughts on this debut episode.
“Robot Combat League” is hosted by former WWE champion Chris Jericho and MMA30 host Dave Farra, and features a unique take on pugilism for the new millenium. A team made up of a pilot (a “robo-jockey”) and an engineer (called a “robo-tech”, no relation to the anime) work together to prepare and fight using a fully hydraulic humanoid robot designed by Mark Setrakian. Twelve teams come together in a single elimination tournament, with $100,000 on the line for the grand prize winner. The pilots are all from different walks of life, including soldiers, olympians, hot chicks whose professions are not important but only that they will attract the average Sy Fy viewer, and even a few MMA fighters, including Andrew Montanez and Amanda Lucas.
We have spoken to the Long Island native, Andrew, a few times in the past on this site, and Amanda is a fighter we have yet to speak to, but it feels like it is long overdue. Amanda is the daughter of “Star Wars” creator George Lucas, something that show repeatedly tells us to make sure you know. And yes, George does appear in the show! Otherwise, the teams are interesting, and I am sure we will see and hear about them more as the show progresses. It’s hard to cram 24 backstories into one hour, but I think the debut does a good job of showing everyone’s traits and explaining a lot about a good number of people.
The robots are absolutely one of the coolest and most awe-inspiring parts of the show. There is no CG here, these are actual moving machines that look amazing. I am a big fan of the “Mechwarrior” video game series, and seeing these robots become a reality is spectacular. I would be lying if I said I did not want to pilot one of these bots myself! Some of the designs are not as cool as the others (“Steampunk” and “Crash”, I am looking at you) but overall, they are the definition of the word “epic”.
This being the pilot episode, we spend a ton of time getting to know the teams and their robots. The first 13 minutes of this debut is devoted to just getting everyone their oversized bots, so it will require a bit of patience to get through it. Once you get past that, the show picks up pace rapidly.
The show is broken up into “Power-Up Challenges”, which are mini-games that allow the winners of those challenges to gain an advantage in their next fight or down the line in the tournament, and “Fight Night”, when the teams face off head-to-head. The first challenge on the show is having the players, who are using the robots for the first time, hit a moving target with their bots, with the team that executes this the fastest getting to fight against the team that did it the slowest. If you want to know who wins, you will have to watch the show, but it was fun to watch the teams learn to use their robots and mess around.
You will be happy to hear that, at least so far, there is no stupid dramas happening inside a giant house where they all sleep or anything like that. Best of all, each episode will feature two fights and not just one! Will there be drama with the teammates? I am sure there will be, but it’s all just a means to the end – and that end is two robots smashing the crap out of each other. More of the drama comes organically from the robots (ironic), in how the robots function and tech problems the pilots have to deal with. Just like in a fight with people, anything can happen, and even a robot with an advantage can suffer an injury during the match that could lead to their downfall.
Sy Fy puts out a lot of bad things on their channel, but I can honestly say that “Robot Combat League” is not one of them. It’s a goofy concept that is very enjoyable to watch, and who would not want to watch two giant robots punch each other? If you were a fan of “Battle Bots”, then “Robot Combat League” is a big upgrade in both technology and as a show. Even more so, the show is surprisingly family friendly (at least, so far), and since no humans really get hurt, it’s safe to watch for all ages. I am looking forward to seeing how the show progresses and what they can do with the cast and the challenges that await them. This is not a rip-off of “The Ultimate Fighter”, it’s a show that stands on its own merits, and those are powered by hydraulics and actuators.
“Robot Combat League” premieres on February 26 at 10 PM EST, so give it a watch and let me know what you think!