Unfortunately, everything you have read about this game is true. Well, not everything. Those paid reviews at the time of release putting the game in a 90% rating range aren't. But you know that already. Why should I even bother to join in and repeat it all? Well, I've been reviewing a shitload of fighting games lately and somehow, the run wouldn't be complete without this one. So let's get it over with.
Gameplay, as you know, is terrible. In single-player mode, you can only be the blue robot. It doesn't matter much, though, as all of the others play very similar anyway. There are only very few moves available and in beginner and easy mode, you'll only ever need one. On medium difficulty, throw in the occasional special move. In hard mode, the game is completely unbeatable. Though not, because the opponents act all smart, but because even maximum punch power will hardly make a dent anymore. Wait, special moves? No, sorry. What this game calls a "special move" would not classify as anything but a bog-standard attack. Which, of course, does not make them any easier to carry out. Two-player mode is unplayable, because player one (who has no choice but to be the blue robot) always wins.
Surprisingly, even today, the game's audiovisual presentation is almost universally praised. So let's instead focus on that. So, according the the Time Warner marketing department, the music has been composed and performed by Queen's Brian May. This is actually restricted to one single guitar riff in the main menu. The fights are silent apart from some amateurish clunking sounds. The ending music is a standard chiptune. Graphics indeed come from the then popular 3D Studio, which had the effect of making every single game look the same. Want to know the link between this one and Command & Conquer? 3D Studio!
Though even if you like this standard look of the mid-90s, sorry to say, Rise of the Robots is not much to write home about. The backgrounds are completely static. No interaction, no scrolling, no movement. The robots themselves are fairly well animated and have some graphical character, but the designers couldn't be arsed to render a sufficient number of distinct ones, so the first five opponents are just looped and you have to "re-defeat" them. Even with the exact same rendered cut scene introducing them. Oh, and even those seven robot models (blue guy, five repeated opponents plus end boss) don't exactly fit into the scenery. First of all, they have only been rendered from one side, leading to the obvious gameplay limitation of not being able to turn around. Second, it never looks like these figures are actually standing on those "surfaces" (background graphics). The default setting, by the way, is "shadows off". Wise choice, because they are just flatly overlaying the robot models. Nice way of breaking your own visual perspective and model! Cut scenes (straight from 3D Studio) are extremely short and really not worth playing the game for.
Now, of course some may now argue that it is unfair to judge a game's 1994 graphics by today's standards. Though consider two points. First, pixel graphics from that time often still look very good. Second, if it was considered necessary to bleed off colours so far that it is hardly recognizable what is going on, then this is simply not acceptable. At no time. Wait, that's a good conclusion. For the whole game, not just its graphics.