Making a game that is designed to be difficult can be a thin line to tread. Games like Super Meat Boy or Dark Souls are challenging yet fair because their controls are intuitive, once you’ve got a handle on them. You never feel like you’re not controlling the action, so every time you die, it feels like it’s your fault, not the game’s.
Kung Fu Strike, previously available on PC, is an Xbox Live game that tries it’s best to create a difficult experience. In the process, though, it becomes dull, tedious and flat-out frustrating. This is how not to design for difficulty.
The game is designed to be a brawler, similar to games like Streets of Rage or even Castle Crashers but in a 3D space. However, while those games have large environments which you have to traverse, almost every level of Kung Fu Strike is set in an arena-style area. If you play one level of Kung Fu Strike, you’ll basically have seen them all.
Most levels follow a generic pattern of “fight baddies, spawn in mini-boss, get mini-boss’ health to 50% and fight more baddies.” When you’re not doing that, you’re in boss stages that tend to follow a similar pattern. The game gets incredibly boring in this regard, offering very little to players who want more.
When you first begin Kung Fu Strike, the combat can be kind of enjoyable. Tapping X punches while holding X will unleash a flurry of punches. You can tap the A button to perform a jump kick, while your dodges and counters are relegated to the right trigger. You can also fill up a meter to perform a special attack that can break an enemy’s block. It’s basic, but the movement actually feels fairly fast in the very early parts of the game and allows for a bit of style. However, this all goes out the window when you hit later levels.
One of the biggest problems that Kung Fu Strike has is its insistence on throwing more and more enemies at you, rather than introducing new enemies. You get swarmed extremely easily and, what’s more, you will often just blend in with all the other characters. The color pallets just blend in so easily that it becomes impossible to keep track of your character and, as a result, you will have trouble countering and blocking attacks.
Another major issue is how blatantly unfair the game can be at times. For example, in one level, bombs will randomly drop from the ceiling and cause you massive damage. It wouldn’t be so bad if you could recover at any decent rate, but instead what generally happens is this: get hit by bomb, fly back, as you’re flying get attacked by enemies, get hit by random bomb again, rinse and repeat.
Other times, enemies will randomly regenerate health. With one mini-boss in particular, this can be an extreme issue. You’ll beat him down to the point where he only has a fraction of health left. When you go in for the killing blow, though, he will almost regenerate more health than you can deal to him. You’ll be stuck until, by random chance, you’ll finally do the required amount of damage to finish him.
Many of these problems could be solved with a few minor changes. While there are some random health pickups that will drop out of enemies, they never drop quite frequently enough to make them meaningful. Even when you do get one, though, it will almost always not restore enough health. You’ll be nearly dead and get a health pick up that will maybe allow you to take one or two more hits. If you counter enemies at just the right moment, you will also regain a small amount of health, but again it never feels like it’s enough.
When you beat enemies, they’ll generally drop money that can be used to purchase upgrades before a level. Some of these are persistent, like new moves or higher health, while others are single use items that can make you faster or regenerate a small fraction of health if you die. These might be more meaningful if they felt like they were doing anything. When you upgrade your health, you still feel as weak as you did before. It’s almost like the items are meaningless.
Kung Fu Strike also has local co-op if you want someone else to feel as miserable as you do when you’re playing it. The game adds in more enemies because, clearly, the game wasn’t difficult enough on its own. Even better, some of the arenas are more horizontal, so if one player goes to the right and one goes to the left, the camera won’t be able to decide which character it wants to follow and will not follow either. Plus, if one player dies, you’ll have to restart the level.
You might notice that there’s been hardly any discussion of the game’s story and that’s mainly because there is hardly any story to begin with. The Titan Empire and the country of Shaa have been at war for many years. General Loh (your character) begins to seek redemption for something or other. It’s nearly impossible to follow what’s going on, as the game uses static, 2D art panels and text to tell its story, without ever introducing you to any of the characters. You’ll probably have no clue what is going on in the story unless you look online. Almost as if the developers knew the story was not interesting, there is an option in the main menu to turn off the cutscenes.
Kung Fu Strike: The Warrior’s Rise is just a thoroughly unpleasant experience. The game is frustrating and boring, all at once. The story is almost impossible to follow and the combat quickly wears away its welcome. Making a game difficult is one thing, but making one as bad as Kung Fu Strike is another.
Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks: Like Kung Fu Strike, Shaolin Monks has a strong emphasis on throwing enemy after enemy at you in arena-type areas. However, there are a few distinct differences. First, the arenas are connected, allowing for a much smoother experience. Enemies were not nearly as difficult. Additionally, while Mortal Kombat has never had a particularly strong emphasis on story, Shaolin Monks at least tried. That’s more than you can say for Kung Fu Strike.
Shaq Fu: Neither Shaq Fu for the SNES nor Kung Fu Strike have any clear story or reasoning to why you’re doing anything. More importantly, neither game is any good. While Kung Fu Strike is nearly impossible to enjoy, there’s something extremely stupid and wonderful about having Shaq fighting a cat-lady. So, in this regard, Shaq Fu is clearly the better kung fu based game.
In this episode Uriyya and Venomous Fatman talks with producer of Hybrid Caleb Arseneaux. We touch on his background on the industry and talk about Hybrid. Hybrid is slated for August 8th as an XBLA exclusive for 1200 Points.
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City Interactive has released the first batch of screenshots for its upcoming game, Alien Fear. This Unreal Engine 3-powered XBLA/PSN shooter is scheduled to release this fall and was shown off at E3.
Alien Fear puts the player in the role of a highly trained elite commando on a mission of sabotage. It will feature “non-stop, visceral run-and-gun action in an explosive environment with meaningful co-operative gameplay.”
While I’ve learned never to trust screenshots entirely, these sure do look pretty. Remember when Microsoft had a 50MB size limit on XBLA games and this type of downloadable shooter was only wishful thinking? Ah, memories.
Mojang and game designer Markus “Notch” Persson are basically famous now after Minecraft hit it big on PC and spread like wildfire. For gamers who never got around to trying it out on PC, the sandbox game to end all sandbox games has hit Xbox Live Arcade. Does this game capture the greatness that made the PC version so popular or does the transition to console ruin the experience?
To call Minecraft a sandbox is doing it a disservice. When you think about sandbox games you start thinking about Grand Theft Auto or Just Cause 2. Minecraft is an entirely different breed of gameplay. The game is perhaps best described right from the two words that make up its title: you mine for things and you craft things.
The point of Minecraft is about as simple as it gets. You are dropped in a world with nothing and are let loose to do what you desire. There is only one catch: at night monsters come out so you need to get started on building some type of shelter to create a safe, well-lit environment in order to survive the night. After that, the world is yours to explore and do whatever you want.
The simplicity of the game is mirrored in its design. The entire world is made up of large blocks, whether it be a mountain or a house they all are just a bunch of cubes. The graphics are all 8-bit style textures which is both rudimentary and endearing. Similarly all characters, animals and monsters have basic, blocky designs. The music is low-key and haunting and sound effects are minimal and pretty basic, containing familiar moos of cows and moans of zombies.
In order to do anything in Minecraft you’ll need to progress. You start out with literally your bare hands and slowly work your way towards advancing both in technology and resources. Bare hands give way to wooden tools. With wooden tools you can start to mine stone which advances you to stone tools and so on. The same progression is seen outside of just your tools. What might start as a small wood shack to live in may turn into a giant stone castle or a cozy brick cottage.
To do any of this, you will need to mine, but you probably guessed that. The deeper you dig the more precious materials you will find and there is plenty to find. Digging into the earth will uncover rich materials like diamonds and gold as well as helpful materials like coal. Like a true mine these items are scattered throughout and you will find small pockets as you dig. You might get all the way down to bedrock (the bottom of the playable world) and find nothing. You might dig two blocks and uncover a massive network of caves that will take days to fully explore.
Minecraft is, at its base, a game that is about creativity, exploration and discovery. There are moments in the game that can be downright jaw-dropping, like the first time you discover a giant cavern or your first experience with lava. As you dig down deeper and travel farther you will find more and more interesting things. You might start in a wooded area but travel a ways and you might run into a winter wonderland or a barren desert.
The second part of what makes Minecraft great is building things. Everything in the world is based on simple building blocks and combining items to make better things is required to progress. The simpler things have you taking a stick and some stone and making an axe. More complicated processes may see you turning sugarcane into paper, making a book out of the paper and then building a bookcase out of several books and wood.
The system of creating items is much more streamlined on Xbox than it was on PC. On PC you had to take items and arrange them in a certain order to make the item. This “recipe” was something most PC players had to look up online or experiment with to figure out. The Xbox version lays out all recipes for you, telling you what materials you need to build anything in the game right up front. This is incredibly helpful and I couldn’t imagine it any other way.
Aside from creating new materials by combining items, Minecraft also has a heavy building aspect. The world is held together through blocks and it is easy to create cool looking stuff by sticking blocks together LEGO style. Due to it’s simplicity it is incredibly easy to design and build something that looks cool. If you put your back into it you can even create amazing things that tower over your world.
One of the most amazing parts of Minecraft is the fact that it isn’t just a single player game. You can play local split-screen or play online with up to eight other players. This means you can easily invite your friends over to your world to see what you’ve built or start a brand new game with someone and build together. Just make sure you trust the people you let in your world because anything that can be built can also be destroyed.
The last aspect of Minecraft, and perhaps the least compelling, is the aforementioned monsters. There are a variety of enemies who come out at night and also can spawn anywhere it’s dark. Often times while exploring a cave you will run into these creatures and in order to take them out you can make simple weapons like a sword or bow and arrow to kill them. Similarly they can kill you. Combat is fine although in the early parts of the game restoring health can be difficult. Still the monsters definitely have a place in the game; it creates tension to know that you may run into enemies underground. Luckily if you want to explore and create without worry of dying there is a “Peaceful” mode that eliminates all bad guys from the world.
Ultimately there is only one complaint I can throw against Minecraft: it’s buggy. For some reason the game seems to exist online, even when playing single player, and there have been multiple times where I have lost connection to the server and lost work. There is also no quick-save, meaning that you will need to remember to manually save every now and then. There are also times when the game crashes and you have to reboot your Xbox. Sadly, the worst case scenario for any game actually happened to me where I lost an entire game save and had to start over after 16 hours of play.
Luckily for all of these bug issues, Minecraft on Xbox 360 is a work in progress. The XBLA release is Minecraft Beta 1.6, while PC players are currently enjoying version 1.2.5 of the full release, which includes a vast amount of new systems. Most notable is the lack of Creative Mode, which lets you just build to your heart’s content without worrying about mining. However it has been promised that patches and updates will continue to come to the Xbox version for free, which is exciting news for console players. The game has already received seamless patches that appear to have made it much more stable that it was at launch.
Minecraft is a game that is both an amazing experience and an astounding endeavor. It has such a simple concept but it can become more addicting than almost any other game out there. There are moments of discovery in the game that will literally floor you the first time you see them. Do you want proof for how much fun this game is? I lost 16 hours of gameplay and I’m not even that upset about it because it gave me a chance to explore a new world and build even more things. I can’t think of many other games that could make such a grievous error and not completely remove any desire to play the game again, but that’s what Minecraft is. You want to keep playing, you want to keep exploring and you want to keep building. Prepare to lose some sleep.
Forge Mode in Halo: This is perhaps the closest thing in a video game to Minecraft. The difference with Forge is that it is purely for building things. Players have spent thousands of hours creating new game modes, fortresses and plenty more. Minecraft however offers the ability to make impressive structures while also including a compelling game based on survival and mining.
Playing with LEGOs: It’s pretty clear that Minecraft and LEGO hold a close connection for many people. Players, like myself, who have fond memories of playing with LEGOs are likely to become hooked by this new world. Both games have situations where you will run out of materials while building stuff. With LEGOs that meant begging your mom to go buy more, while with Minecraft it just means another trip to the mine.
I imagine the concept for Anomaly: Warzone Earth was created by a few people sitting in some office building around a medium sized, oval table. The question posed was a simple one often asked in many similar rooms: how do we redefine a particular genre (with genre X in this case being Tower Defense). The question itself, being relatively mundane, was probably greeted by a short silence broken first by the guy who was a former class clown, piping up only to say with a poorly faked accent, “In Soviet Russia, Tower attacks you!” I wonder then, how long they laughed, before they realized they were on to something.
Anomaly: Warzone Earth is, on its face, a Tower Defense game developed by 11 Bit Studios. The difference here is that rather than construct towers to defend humanity against an onslaught of aliens, in Anomaly the aliens have landed on Earth, where they begin constructing towers to defend against units controlled by you. This basic role reversal creates not just an interesting game, but the possibility of a new and interesting genre that can really only be called Tower Offense.
The first thing you’ll notice about Anomaly: Warzone Earth is the cinematic intro highly reminiscent of games like Modern Warfare, where you are treated to a satellite view and information overload as a somber voice explains that the year is 2018 and first contact has been made. As the view swoops in to reveal aerial pictures of a crash site in the city of Baghdad it will be very difficult not to think you’re about to play a movie tie-in for Battle: Los Angeles or District 9.
Eventually the game settles to an almost three-quarters isometric view (similar to what you’d see in Diablo or Starcraft 2) and it’s only after a brief moment of inactivity that you’ll realize you’re already playing the game. Very rarely are the graphics in a game, let alone a Tower Defense game, good enough to cause that moment of temporary confusion. As you make your way through the streets of Baghdad and later through Tokyo, the graphics of the cities remain impressive.
As far as actual gameplay, Anomaly puts you in the role of the commander of the 14th Platoon and tasks you with leading your squad – a convoy of various vehicles – through the streets of the city and straight into a mysterious dome of light which has descended over Baghdad. Once you breach the dome, you’ll see strange alien towers appearing along the streets, where you must plot your own strategic course and find your way to your destination.
Making you a commander in charge of an armed (and armored) convoy carries with it a huge element of strategy. As you go through the city you can choose to engage towers or avoid them, as well as take detours to collect valuable resources (known as Carusaurum) that have come from the alien wreckage. In taking down towers you gain money which you can use to purchase or upgrade six different types of units. Part of the strategy of the game is deciding which of these units you should purchase to round out the six available spaces in your convoy, as well as what order they should be placed in.
As the game progresses you will eventually encounter six different types of enemy towers as well, each with their own weaknesses or strategies that work best to defeat them. The commander himself is helpful in executing this strategy too, as it is your role in the XBLA version to guide your commander around the battlefield and deploy up to four different types of “suit powers,” which include repairing units, setting up smoke screens, deploying decoys and calling in air strikes. When the game really gets going and you fill out your convoy with the different unit types, the game could easily be mistaken for an on-rails version of Command and Conquer (which is every bit as awesome as that sounds).
The game, when played on Casual, is easy enough that the campaign can be completed in around five hours, with the higher difficulties obviously offering more challenge. Still, even on easy if you make a wrong turn (literally) and your lead unit starts the convoy down a dangerous path, you can usually spend several abilities to get yourself out of the mess, but if you are ever caught off guard in a dangerous situation then units can drop like flies. Thankfully you are usually less than a minute away from your last checkpoint.
There are a few negative things to say about Anomaly, though for the most part they are simply interface issues that could easily be fixed with an update. One problem you’ll notice is that when saving up money to upgrade a particular unit, the upgrade will be blacked out until it can be afforded. That doesn’t sound like much of an issue, but it actually does interfere with your strategy – when the text is blacked out, on the majority of the maps it is too dark to read how much the unavailable upgrade will increase your armor or attack strength, making it difficult to gauge whether it would be worth spending your money now or saving up just a little bit more to upgrade the more expensive units.
Another feature of the game that can work to its detriment is the fact that you can hold down the left or right trigger to speed up the action. While this works great for hustling the convoy through hospitable areas, it’s easy to inadvertently skip through voiced-over dialogue. The fact that skipping the dialogue in a Tower game is a bad thing though is an indicator of just how compelling the world of Anomaly is. In fact, the harshest criticism of the game is that there aren’t any other cut scenes after the opening intro. After the beginning raises your hopes so high, you’ll want to be playing a Hollywood blockbuster, which just makes the relatively decent story seem insufficient.
Rather than following that initial path of a Modern Warfare styled Tower Defense game, the almost supernatural abilities of your commander really take over and begin to dominate the experience. To counteract this, enemies in the later stages are specifically focused on interfering with your commander, first causing your units to attack your hero, then drawing strength from your suit powers.
It can be frustrating at first to adjust to this sort of course correction and compensate with new tactics, but the fact that this is necessary is addressed neatly in the narrative with the explanation that the aliens are adapting to and trying to counteract your strategy. Maybe that’s all just an excuse, but it raises the question of why the game can’t, or doesn’t, branch out in different ways dependent upon what types of units you rely most heavily on, and it also leaves the door open to wonder about how different another entry into this new genre might be without the super powers of a commanding unit.
Even when you’re done with the campaign there is a great deal of replayability through Tactical Challenge levels and other assault style levels that pit you against waves of spawning towers and power generators. Still, even after you have worked your way through all of that, chances are you’ll be wanting more not because Anomaly is lacking in any way, but because the promise of its concept is so tantalizing that you’ll be desperately begging for a sequel, as well as for other developers to jump on board the Tower Offense train. Imagine a Left 4 Dead style game where you run survivors through a similar gauntlet of parasitic, stationary “zombie” towers, or an on-rails version of Company of Heroes, where you lead a small group of soldiers down crowded streets, taking out bunkers, MG nests and entrenched snipers along the way. Anomaly: Warzone Earth is more than just an excellent game in its own right, it’s a wealth of possibility.
Defenders of Ardania: Anomaly blows DoA out of the water in nearly every regard, particularly in the fact that Anomaly gets the idea of Tower Offense so right. In Anomaly you actually control your units and have a literal investment in their welfare, so you do everything in your power to keep them alive and make it through to assault the enemy’s stronghold. Although the fantasy world of Majesty makes a great backdrop, the actual gameplay itself prevented you from having any fun with it. If they make a DoA 2 in the style of Anomaly I’d absolutely buy it, but until then I’m praying for an 11 Bit sequel.
Anomaly: Warzone Earth: This isn’t the first time that gamers have had the opportunity to take charge of this alien stomping convoy, but it’s certainly the best. Originally released for the PC in 2011, then later on the iOS, both earlier versions suffered from a harder difficulty curve and clunkier controls. Anomaly on the PC didn’t give you direct control of your commander, which detached you from the experience while the iOS version was actually missing the commander entirely (as well as the Tokyo levels). What it boils down to is that this recent release on XBLA trumps the previous versions, making Anomaly not just a great game, but a game that is better than itself.
Fez is a game that has had a somewhat storied history. The game has been in development for almost five years and its lead designer, Phil Fish, has been no stranger to controversy. However, with the game only days away from being released on Xbox Live, the games soundtrack has been made available for pre-order on Bandcamp.
While you won’t be able to download the full album until April 20, if you pre-order you will be able to download six tracks from the album right away. Even though this is just a pre-order, the soundtrack is already one of the top selling albums on Bandcamp.
With a fairly low price of entry at five dollars, if any of the tracks sound good to you, it’s a no-brainer. You can pre-order the soundtrack right here. The game will be available this Friday on Xbox Live Arcade for 800 Microsoft Points and you can expect our review at some point next week.
Anomaly Warzone Earth is one of the latest titles to release on Xbox Live. The game, which originally released on PC and Mac in April 2011, adds a new twist to the tower defence genre in that it has been described more aptly as a tower offence game.
This unique spin on the tower defence genre pleased critics when the game released on PC and Mac, with iOS and Android versions following. The iOS version of the game currently holds a 94 metacritic rating (the eighth highest iOS game of all time). The XBLA version gives people more opportunity to check the game out and if it holds up to previous versions then it is sure to not disappoint.
I for one am in favour of supporting new and innovative games like this, I’ll see you online!
With recent gaming releases like Puddle, From Dust, World of Goo, DeBlob, Aqua Panic, Mercury Rising and now The Splatters, you’d be forgiven for thinking that all kids these days want to do is play with their fluids. The fact of the matter is that despite the large number of titles that have in some way, shape or form sought to incorporate fluid dynamics into some puzzle solving elements, none of those games seem to have really caught on.
Sure, each of the aforementioned titles has its own dedicated group of adulators who love each game’s particular hook, so it isn’t hard to imagine that The Splatters will also have fans. But despite the intricacies of the game, it doesn’t really seem poised to become a breakthrough, mainstream title for a host of reasons.
The Splatters, at its core, is not that functionally different than a game like Angry Birds. The basic concept is that you launch personified blobs of goo at clusters of bombs laid strategically throughout the level. The point is not simply to come into contact with the bombs though – first you must actually kill the Splatter that you’ve launched, whether by tearing it apart on spikes or slamming it forcefully into a ceiling or wall.
Each stage is laid out on a single screen which allows you to plot and strategize your shots before beginning. As you learn the ropes of the game through the Become a Talent mode, you will quickly find more and more ways that you can influence the path of your projectiles after launch. The fact that you can jump, slide, rain, flip, air strike or effectively turn your blob into a ballistic missile in order to perform various types of combos is dizzyingly impressive. In fact, it is what reveals the game’s greatest flaw.
The main problem with The Splatters is not that you have so many options to choose from in clearing stages or exploding bombs, but it’s the fact that the controls are not exact enough to allow consistent replication of these maneuvers. If for some reason you should fail to clear all the bombs in a stage you simply start over, and are given the option with the press of a button to see a short video on one possible solution to clear the puzzle. But watching the solution and actually having the ability to perform those exact moves are two completely different things.
It’s difficult to determine whether or not it is the controls themselves or the nature of the game involving fluid dynamics, but in either event it can easily be frustrating knowing exactly what it is that you intend to do, but for one unexplainable reason or another simply not being able to accomplish that goal. That, more than anything, is what keeps The Splatters down.
The game carries with it a great deal of charm in the catchy music and little noises that your kamikaze cannon-balls make. The stages look quirky as well, though they offer much more visual than tactical variety. There is incentive to achieve higher and higher scores on each level, particularly when you open up the Master Shot and Combo Nation modes.
The fact that you can share videos of your performance for the whole world to see really makes you want to achieve perfection. But if you take a look at the videos of other people’s performances you’ll note disappointingly that it doesn’t seem like there is a huge amount of skill necessary to master the game and get the highest score, there’s just the repeated taking advantage of particular score multiplying concepts. Some of the shots you’ll see attached to the high scores on the leaderboards certainly are impressive, but there’s nothing there you won’t look at and think you couldn’t do yourself (though granted this will probably change over time as more players dedicate significant portions of their lives to this game).
The clear potential for fun, as compared to the actual frustration of play, distills into the fact that conceptually The Splatters looks better on paper than it does in motion. The game is certainly something that several puzzler fans will be able to digest and enjoy, but for the majority of casual gamers with a different constitution, the harsh, almost burning reality is that they will not be excited to get The Splatters.
If you’re bold enough to name your game The Splatters, you really have to make sure that the product you provide definitively meets a certain level of quality in order to avoid the obvious and impending jokes equating your game with crap. While this game easily clears the bar of excellence which divides good games from crap, The Splatters obviously still leaves itself open to scatological humor in too many places.
Puddle: Though critics may have loved the concept of Puddle, as far as action goes The Splatters is much more involved, due to the fact that you have direct control over the arc and motion of your blobs. With various challenges and ways to clear singular stages, action in The Splatters comes in sudden spurts, where you can quickly restart and rethink a particular strategy, as opposed to slowly losing small amounts of fluid over time and having nothing but a small dribble in the end.
Peggle: Peggle, for all its luck and random bouncing, feels more strategic in some ways. You take one shot in Peggle and then see what happens, then you can deliberately analyze the results and change where you’re firing. In The Splatters you may fail to pull off a particular move that seems like it should have worked, then on the second or third try you’ll inexplicably nail it. Whether that’s because of a split second difference in when you executed a flip, or you simply had an initially shallower angle to the approach is all a mystery. And Peggle has a unicorn, which is scientifically proven to be more attractive to women than The Splatters.
Harmonix has announced that they’re still in the Rock Band business. Rock Band Blitz will be coming to PSN and Xbox LIVE Arcade this summer.
Revealed on tonight’s episode of X-Play, the gameplay in Blitz is reminiscent of Rock Band Unplugged, the PSP entry of the music franchise. There will be no instruments needed as players will hit blocks and switches down note highways of all four instruments at once. Switching between instruments will be crucial to obtaining maximum points.
Perhaps the best thing about this announcement is that all Rock Band DLC will work for Blitz. All Rock Band DLC on your console can be imported into Blitz and with access to the Rock Band Music Store, there are over 3500 tracks that can be added. The game itself will come with twenty-five playable songs. These songs will also be playable to owners of Rock Band 3 as well.
Check out the announcement below.
Shoot Many Robots has, perhaps, the most apt video game title in the past few years. There are many, MANY robots to shoot here. While some of the concepts in Shoot Many Robots may be cliché, Demiurge Studios has set out to create a unique, fun experience.
Yes, killer robots have been done in video games plenty of times before. How many of those games have let your character wear a tutu and an astronaut helmet while wielding a gun painted with the stars and stripes. Shoot Many Robots has a wide range of competition in the market, so it spares no expense in trying to distinguish itself with completely over the top humor.With so many other similar games out there, can Shoot Many Robots stand out from the crowd?
Shoot Many Robots is a side-scrolling shooter, in the same vein as Contra. Each stage has three or four levels, most of which consist of taking your character (with perhaps the best video game name ever: P. Walter Tugnut) to the end of the stage while killing every single robot that gets in your way. Thrown into the mix are some survival levels, in which you have to survive as many waves of enemies as you can. There’s no real rhyme or reason given as to why there are so many robots strewn about the landscape, but that doesn’t really take away from the fun of the game.
The shooting mechanics are basic but still fun to play with. You can choose to move and shoot, which gives you the disadvantage of not being terribly accurate, or you can hold down the aim button for more precise aiming but you are unable to move while doing so. The disadvantage here is that you can very easily get swarmed by enemies, especially in some of the later levels. Generally, you will be equipped with one normal gun that fires unlimited ammo and one heavy weapon, which is limited in ammo but much more powerful.
Enemies can wildly vary in difficulty in each level. One second, you might be fighting a few enemies that take a single shot to kill and in the next, you will have to fight a wave of enemies that have specific weak spots that are incredibly difficult to target. Some enemies fire special bullets that can be punched back at them by pressing the B button. It’s an interesting mechanic, but the hit detection is such that you can take damage even when you feel like you hit the bullet at the correct time. You can take a lot of hits, but when you get swarmed, these bullets can be a death sentence, even if you have plenty of the game’s healing item, beer.
What really sets the shooting apart from most other games is the loot system that has been built around the game. Destroying robots nets you nuts: the games currency and experience. When your character has leveled up, he can buy new weapons (leveling up provides zero statistical advantage other than the fact that you can buy new guns). Nuts an be used to buy new weapons and new outfits (which give various stat boosts to your character) from your RV, whereyou rest in-between levels. Many of these items, however, must first be unlocked before you can buy them. You do this by destroying various crates that you find in boxes across the levels. If you really want to buy a new gun, it incentivizes you to go through levels multiple times, and with levels that have multiple branched paths, there’s a lot of replayability if you want to unlock everything.
If, however, you don’t feel like going through all of that hassle, the developers are more than happy to let you pay real cash to unlock weapons. If there’s one thing that really holds back this game, it’s how monetized it is. You can pay real cash to buy in-game money. That, in and of itself, is not terrible. However, if you can’t find a weapon, you can pay real cash to unlock the ability to buy a gun. It’s not cheap, either, as individual weapons can cost you $2 to unlock. In the long run, if you’re not buying weapons it doesn’t directly affect you, but it’s still a bit disgusting to see how much money you could actually end up spending on this game.
The art and humor of the game definitely help it to stand out, as well. The art style is very evocative of something like Borderlands, with a vague cell-shaded look to it. That said, everything is a bit duller than in Borderlands, so the art doesn’t quite “pop” as much as you would hope.
Much of the games humor is conveyed through the various loot items you can buy. Buying tutus or beer helmets is only the tip of the iceberg. There’s everything from bikini briefs to the “Stepson” hat, which according to the item’s description once yelled, “You’re not my real dad!” There’s even an appearance from Penny Arcade’s Fruit…fornicator, let’s call it, and before you ask, yes it is a helmet and yes it does hump your skull.
There is also a co-op multiplayer mode, which plays almost identically to the single player, with a few minor exceptions. For example, there is player specific loot that you can find throughout a level meaning each player gets a different piece of loot when you open a crate. It’s also somewhat easier to get through levels, especially since other players can revive you if you run out of beer to heal yourself with.
Shoot Many Robots can be a real blast, even if there are some insidious hooks built into the game. The humor is raunchy, but never too over the top and the act of mowing through wave after wave of robots is a lot of fun, even after hours of playing. Yes, the game has been monetized like crazy, but if you can get past that, you’ll likely find that Shoot Many Robots is well worth the ten dollars it costs…just don’t put any more into buying individual weapons.