Thanks to JMJ Interactive for the review code
System: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Release Date: 08/16/2018
Hopping on the ever-so-growing pixel art bandwagon, Robbotto goes for a pixel art style that looks beyond generic, not throwing back to any era in particular, instead appearing to use 8-Bit pixel art and backgrounds just because it can, and it looks pretty hideous to be quite honest. Single color backgrounds, little animation, (save for the water sprinkle effect) and an uninspired look just doesn’t bode well for this game when it could have been so much cooler looking. There’s not much in terms of music either, with a forgettable title screen loop and dull background themes that just come off as generic noise.
Robbotto is an action arcade platformer that works akin to Bubble Bobble, where the main goal is to defeat every enemy on the screen and move onto the next one, repeating until you come across a Boss enemy every ten stages. While Whip Whip was also a tribute to that same arcade game and followed a similar structure, Robbotto puts a heavy emphasis on Co-Op due to the method of defeating enemies. Instead of simply attacking them to death like in most other games, you have to first strike an enemy with an electrical spark, and then use your water cannon on them to fry their circuits. The problem is that you barely have any room to jump in most of the levels, so dodging the projectiles enemies quickly learn how to use becomes an exercise in frustration if you try to do everything solo, even on the easiest settings.
Luckily, playing in the local co-op mode relieves a few of these annoyances, since one player has control of the electric shot while the other can fire the water cannon. Working together with a friend makes quick work of some levels, although you do end up sharing the same amount of lives, so they can wear out much quicker than normal if your partner isn’t that good at working together. The different difficulty levels determine how much health and continues you can use, although even on the easiest setting clearing all 100 stages can take quite a while. Unfortunately, there’s a major, major flaw regarding the playthroughs that can make it really tough to even continue until the end, and that comes from the lack of more than one save file.
Yes, you can’t even have one save file for single player and one save file for a multiplayer game, you must erase your old save if you wish to switch to another mode of difficulty. This is an absolutely absurd design choice, one that makes next to no sense whatsoever, since if you’re in the middle of a co-op session and need to take a break for later, you’ll have to wait until you can get someone else to help you out to even continue the game, unless you want to start over from the very beginning.
There are bosses to deal with in Robbotto, but thankfully these are more cleverly implemented than in Whip Whip, which is the only real positive I can give this game over that title. Like with the normal enemies, you have to electrify their weak points before pouring water on them afterwards, but unlike the normal stages, these stages actually feel a lot better designed and take proper advantage of the game’s main gimmick, and fighting the ones I reached in Co-Op required some fun efforts of teamwork! It’s just a shame that shortly after the twentieth level the game starts to ramp up on the frustrating enemy placement and smaller spaces, which leads to the tougher and sturdier enemies shredding through your lives in no time.
In conclusion, Robbotto is an uninspired and clunky mess, with pretty terrible level design and only a cool co-op gimmick and some fun bosses to offer a glimmer of potentially good ideas. It’s just a huge, huge shame that several confusing design decisions are in play, the most offensive of them all being the lack of multiple save files for single player and co-op. Considering how only a few months ago we got another co-op Bubble Bobble throwback in the form of Whip Whip, one that pays a better tribute to its inspiration and offers a lot more polish and options at a similar price point, it’s really difficult to recommend this game for any purpose whatsoever, especially with how dull and uninspired it is. If you are still interested in this game for the boss battles or the co-op gimmick, then I’d just recommend that you would wait until it goes on sale, since this game has little merit as is.
I give Robbotto a 4 out of 10.