Shoot Many Robots is my favorite painful pleasure this year and will probably be the reason I destroy both my monitor and controller sometime in the near future. This game is both completely wonderful and utterly frustrating in the same breath, but it’s nothing that video gaming’s ‘old guard’ hasn’t seen before.
Developer Demiurge wants to take you on a plunge into a dystopian future where robots have run amok, causing a robot apocalypse or ‘robotcalypse.’ You take on the role of P. Walter Tugnut, a beer swilling, nut tugging son of a gun with a penchant for robo-pistol whippery as you go out to, well, Shoot Many Robots.
This game feels a lot like old school side scrolling shooters Metal Slug, Contra, and even Ghosts n Goblins, but it also adds in the ability to fully customize your character with custom load outs like a lot of the more modern shooter genre games. You also level up your character which adds to the damage you do and your overall health.
The coolest thing about Shoot Many Robots is that it’s an online 4-player co-operative game, allowing you to throw three of your beer swilling compatriots into the trailer to take on the robot infested terrain together.
My advice is to get some friends in on the mix, because when I used the matchmaking feature I didn’t have much luck finding partners to blaze down the dusty trails with.
Shoot Many Robots is pretty basic; is it moving? Shoot it! Do you think it will move? You should probably shoot it! Sounds simple enough but make no mistake, this game is a steep climb.
This game starts out pretty easy but the difficulty shoots up significantly as you progress. I’ve got a character that’s level 42, quickly ascending to the 50 cap and though I’ve finished the game on normal, on hard I’m quickly grinding to a halt, I don’t even want to think about what this game will be like on insane. Shoot Many Robots was obviously made to accomodate people playing co-op to clear out hordes in later levels, but if you want to play this one solo you’re going to find the need to grind through old levels in order to be able to get the gear and experience you need to move on.
The gear is an awesome addition to this kind of game, it allows you to really tune your character to your preference. You can go in with all guns blazing or you can take a more defensive tact; this allows players to vary their team setup for the different situations they’ll encounter.
The grinding aspect of the game isn’t too bad though. Considering the source material for this kind of game, spending a few extra playthroughs on a couple of older levels isn’t quite as bad as being sent back to the start to play everything all over again. Grinding can also yield unlocks for new weapons and more ‘nuts’ (the game’s currency) to spend on new equipment.
Speaking of nuts, as you play the game you’ll find a meter in the top of the screen which fills as you kill enemies. It peaks at 5x and acts as a multiplier for the nuts you’ll pick up of of defeated enemies. In order to keep the meter from depleting and knocking you back down to lower multipliers, you have to continuously defeat enemies. This acts as incentive to keep moving forward and to take chances against more difficult enemies.
There’s a good amount of enemy variety. You’ll mostly see these tiny robots with chainsaw on their backs throughout the game, these generally come in large groups and attack you Zerg style. They’re easy to deal with one on one but they can easily swarm you as you progress, often pouring out of every opening in the scenery like a clown pulling handkerchiefs from its sleeve.
This can be grating at times, as the game simply wants to overwhelm you. Often time I found myself bouncing above scores of enemies shooting down. This can be quite frustrating, especially if you spend four minutes in a level jumping around like an idiot only to die. When the enemies become that thick you either outmaneuver them or you go back to earlier stages in a hope to grind to a level up or get newer more powerful gear. This really cuts into the flow of the game, but for an old school side scrolling shooter like this it’s nothing new. I’d just grab a water, come back and keep playing.
Other enemies will become more tricky and diabolical as you move through the game, requiring you to knock back their bullets with your melee attack or shoot their missiles out of the sky before they home in on you and obliterate your health bar. It can become downright enraging as you get to a point in the level where you’re fending off several shooting robots while swarms of chainsaw wielding bots carpet the ground beneath you, forcing you to constantly jump and shoot or use an ability for crowd control.
There are two special abilities that allow you to crowd control these zerging bots if you aren’t hitting them with your gun. You can equip a slide maneuver which allows you to damage and knock down foes who you collide with, or you can equip a slam which acts much like the ground pound in Mario games. Both are fairly effective but risky a lot of the time, and either really aren’t dedicated to your character as you have to equip items which allow you to use them.
One of my favorite parts of the game is the rocking guitar in the background that plays during your rampage. It goes from a somewhat light solo during the lighter battles to really heavy when you are in the thick of battle. It’s like whoever has the guitar suddenly gets a pang of inspiration whenever he sees blood drenched robots pouring in from every corner of the screen and it really suits the tone of this game well.
This game is pretty funny. The entire game is a riff on the idea of the robotcalypse idea. The in game text is drenched in humorous one liners including false statistics like boosts to patriotism for every flag bearing weapon you can buy. There are also references to the nuts sacks you collect and even the less-than-subtle toilet flush when you exit your inventory will draw a chuckle every so often. The gear will allow you to dress P. Walter Tugnut in any crazy way you want, you can make him a ballerina in a tutu and fairy wings or you can just have the “Fruit Fucker” of Penny Arcade fame make sweet love to his balding head as you play. You’ll also get ridiculous items, like a cat carrier that shoots giant bombs, or a baby carrier which gives you, well, “plus one babies.”
It even fits the slightly cel-shaded look of the game which was an excellent choice for this downloadable title.
This game delivers a lot of content for its price tag. It asks 10 bucks for a game that I think has delivered a lot more than most downloadable titles I’ve seen recently at a higher price of admission. Even if you go in on nostalgia for those older games alone, there’s not much to regret taking the plunge on this game.
Note: The Playstation Network version of this game was played for review. Shoot Many Robots is also available on the Xbox Live Marketplace on Xbox 360
- The price of admission isn’t too steep
- A huge array of items to customize your character with
- Online four player co-op
- Can be very frustrating when the game decides to suddenly turn up the difficulty
- Grinding becomes boring and monotonous
- Calling beers ‘juice’ in the PS3 version. C’mon!!!