Shoot Many Robots
Genre: 2D Shooter
Release Date: 2/13/12
If there is one thing you can say about this game, it would be that the title also serves as an apt description of the game itself. No false advertising here. The question is, is it fun to shoot many robots?
When I first booted the game up and played through the tutorial, I thought maybe the game was subtle satire. The game doesn’t have much in the way of story, you play as P. Walter Tugnuts, a redneck who has been stockpiling for the robot apocalypse. The beginning of the game starts off almost like a country song; the robots destroy his truck, and gosh darnit he isn’t going to stand for it. Despite my initial thoughts that maybe it was satire, it is not and there is nothing subtle about the game, in a good way. There is very little in the way of story, however, sometimes with games like this that fact should not be held against it. There’s a lot to be said about hitting the start button and putting yourself almost right into the action with little fuss.
The game is playable both single player and co-op multiplayer. The game requires you to send and receive invites to join multiplayer with friends.
While playing co-op with friends is almost always superior to playing with strangers, not having the option to play with strangers is surprising because the game lends itself well to a co-op experience. It can get a little lonely when you are one man taking on a seemingly endless supply of robots. Another issue I had with the co-op was the fact that I received an invite, but I didn’t hear or see any notification about it. That might’ve been because I was so focused on killing robots, but it was annoying later to discover I’d missed an opportunity to play with a friend. Still, the game functions perfectly fine in single player if you do not happen to have 3 friends who have purchased the game. Plus you get to keep all the nuts for yourself. That’s it for the modes aside from leaderboards. There is plenty to the single player experience to last quite awhile though.
(CORRECTION: I have been since notified that hitting the triangle button from the lobby screen will switch it to random matchmaking instead of a friends lobby. I did not see this as an option as in the pre-release version the main menu had Invite A Friend, Check Invites and Play Now. If there was an option to do so and I missed it then I apologize to the developers. As such my prior paragraph is incorrect, which I’m glad for as the game has a strong multiplayer component. I was unable to join a game with in random matchmaking so I can’t speak on how it works)
Graphically the game is great. The game looks like an animated comic book, and the art design is amazing. I loved how the robots look. The most common enemy type looks a little like if the Claptrap robot from Borderlands went psycho, Texas Chainsaw Massacre style, and is called The Chopper, for example. All of the enemies look great, and there is a wide variety of them. The bosses are also well designed, though there is some repetition of the bosses (though they do have different attack patterns). The background look amazing and the level design is well thought out to make the different encounters feel unique, with platforms in different places along with various obstacles. There are even some different paths you can take within a level, and can even backtrack along different paths occasionally to try and get more nuts. The thing that really impressed me about the game was not only that the art direction was really good, but the whole thing runs smoothly even when an insane number of enemies are on the screen.
The sound effects are just fine. The music fits well with the game and all of the different weapon and attack sound effects are good. There’s nothing bad about the sound at all, but also nothing that really stood out as being extremely well done.
So now that I’ve talked about all of the ways they’ve dressed the game up, what’s left? Oh yeah. The shooting robots part.
Shoot Many Robots is a 2D side scrolling shooter with RPG elements and a focus on customization and co-op. What does that mean in English? You walk from left to right, shooting waves of robots, earning experience with each kill to level up the character. Killing robots also makes them drop nuts, which is the in game currency. You use the nuts to purchase new weapons and clothing items, each of which can grant statistical bonuses for the main character. In order to unlock items you have to find a ‘coupon’ within specific boxes on each level, and sometimes enemies will drop a coupon. Between levels items are bought from within Tugnuts motor-home.
The game lets players pretty much use these items to customize their character the way they want. With different head, torso, and lower body outfits to buy, you can mix and match these for different effects. This plays out in an interesting way, and there are a lot of fun items to choose from. You can have a beer hat that gives you the ability to hold two additional health reviving drinks (which appear as beer bottles). There’s a shark fin that lets you slide around on the ground better, or a belt that hold additional ammo and grants a damage to bullets. There are a metric ton of items to unlock, buy, and play around with. Part of the fun of switching up the parts is to see how well they play to your style of game. You can mix a bunch of sliding parts if you want to slide around on the ground a lot, there are hover-packs for hovering in mid-air along with items that boost jumping and hangtime if you are the type of person that would prefer to battle it out in the air instead of on the ground. There are plenty of items if you want to try and make your own tank class, or if you just want to mix and match to create the most embarrassing looking P. Walter Tugnuts possible.
The same goes for the weapon unlocks, as they support all styles of play with the different weapons. You always have a regular weapon with infinite ammo and a heavy weapon with finite ammo. I personally prefer the SMG/Grenade launcher combo with items that support the damage of both the weapons, but it is great that the game never forces you into a style, and it is a lot of fun to just play around with the different options. Well, that and the weapon/item descriptions are amusing to just read. Some have stats such as Is There Button Mashing? HELL YEAH. Humor is prevalent throughout the game, with some great stuff on the loading screens as well.
There are some issues with this customization system, however. Some of the better looking items are also very expensive and the game can be a little stingy with the nuts you get. The game allows you to buy nuts with real currency, which makes this feel like sort of a money grab. This is something I personally did not care for, but does not effect the game very much. You can just grind it out, as leveling up makes the earlier levels much, much easier to just blast through. This also has the effect of making the game feel a little like too much of a grind. Shoot Many Robots isn’t just the title, it’s also most of the game, which may not feel like a grind so much as you play through with increasing challenges; however, needing to go back to earlier levels to get more nuts if you want to purchase expensive items makes the game feel more repetitive.
I like it when games add RPG elements, such as level systems and stats, but I dislike it when they add things like the need to grind. Many RPGs have this as a part of the game without the opportunity to just pay to skip it, but I though they could’ve found a better balance with the nut prices for those who do not wish to pay extra. Like I said, paying is completely optional, and actually wasn’t an option in the pre-release version. I was perfectly able to find affordable equipment that worked well without the need to go back through levels. Well, except the shark fin, because I wanted it, and then immediately decided I didn’t like it, which made the time grinding for it feel like even more of a waste.
The game controls fairly well. You use the left stick to move, which also determines where you aim. The square button shoots, the triangle button switches between weapons, X jumps and circle is melee. R1 button triggers a slide move that can knock the smaller enemies into the air and is useful for getting out of tight situations. L1 allows finer tuned aiming, making the character stand still, as well as being a contextual button for different items. For the most part, it works. Different items will also slow you down, increase jumping height, or take away the ability to do things like jump or slide in exchange for a boost in stats. This lets you fine tune the game to the way you want it to be. Personally, I found the basic slide to be all I wanted, it really helps crowd control, but I wore all slide bonus items and it didn’t seem to help much.
There are some slight issues I had with the mechanics of jumping and sliding. The jumping feels a little floaty, making it difficult sometimes to land on the platform you want to land on. With everything going on onscreen I had trouble sometimes figuring out how an enemy was able to hit me while I was sliding as I thought sliding would give my attack priority. It is difficult to judge the right distance with melee, as sometimes I’d punch when a missile was sort of close and it would connect, and other time it would appear the same distance but would not, or I thought I was in the right path of the missile but I was a fraction off and my melee attack would not work. With a ton of enemies on screen it would frustrate me, because often a mistake on your part can lead to getting mauled. Because you change items so often I wasn’t sure if the different items were causing this confusion, because they can effect the stats of sliding/melee/jumping, but when it would happen it would bother me.
Overall though, the controls feel fine. The item system is fun and interesting and the small annoyances to me are outweighed by all the things the game does well.
I don’t know if you could tell by the above, but Shoot Many Robots is not an easy game. There are scrolling levels, which feature sections where you fight off waves of enemies, and survival levels, where you see how long you can survive. It is easy enough to learn the controls and start blasting away, but the difficulty ramps up with harder enemies and more classes of enemies to try and destroy. There are multiple classes of enemies with different attack patterns and weak spots. Juggling all the enemy types can sometimes feel overwhelming when you have a screen full of them. The challenge of finding out what style of attack works best for you is the fun part of the game though. You do level up, but the difficulty in turn ramps up with you. Replaying early levels becomes much easier, however the weapons and items don’t feel as powerful as when you keep going, because the challenge of the levels increases with you. It is well balanced, but almost too much. In some ways it lacks the feeling of becoming more powerful as you level up. Still, as someone who enjoys challenging 2D side scrollers, this wasn’t much of an issue to me. On the higher levels there might be some really awesome stuff I have yet to unlock that might feel more powerful, but a lot of the ones I have unlocked were just more powerful versions of earlier weapons. As mentioned previously, there is a strong motive to replay earlier levels, and it is fun to just blast through them. Despite some of my criticisms, the game is also addictive. I went back and played a little more before I wrote this review, because editing schedules cannot delay me from shooting many robots.
Shoot Many Robots should appeal to nearly any gamer. Killing robots should be, like, sixth or seventh on the list of enemies people enjoy blowing up. There’s Nazis, zombies, terrorists of made up countries, aliens, and robots. That’s fifth place actually. Who doesn’t enjoy destroying sentient machines? The challenge might not appeal to everyone, or people who somehow get bored shooting robots, but otherwise the game is easy to pick up, looks good, and the ability to build your own class is this type of game is unique.
Control and Gameplay: Very Good
Balance: Very Good
Addictiveness: Very Good
Appeal Factor: Great
Miscellaneous: Very Good
FINAL SCORE: Very Good Game
Short Attention Span Summary:
Shoot Many Robots lets you, well, shoot many robots. The customization system allows you to play the game in the way that is most comfortable to you, and the game has a sense of humor, graphics with great art design, and is overall a good time. I don’t care for how the game handles the nuts for cash currency system, and at times the game feels more like a grind because of it, but I enjoy the game and recommend at least trying the demo to see if it might something you would enjoy as well.