Robbotto is an arcade style platformer game from the team at JMJ Interactive, an indie developer based in Sweden. You have the option of playing single player or co-op, with various difficulty settings for 100 levels, with a boss battle occurring every 10 levels
It all starts with two little maintenance robots; Robb, controlled with the arrow and Y keys, and Otto, controlled with the classic WASD and N keys. Robb and Otto are the top maintenance droids on a space freighter full of haywire robots. You need to deactivate them with the one thing robots hate: water.
Robb shoots an electrical pulse, and Otto has a water gun. Basically, stun robots with the pulse, and hit ‘em with the water to shut them down. In single player mode, Robb shoots both the pulse and the water.
I’m going to be honest with you guys, I really wanted to like this game. From the outside it looks like this is a game that is right up my alley; it’s a super cute puzzle platformer with a retro look, and I am all about that. But maybe my expectations for this genre are why this game really didn’t do much for me. The formulaic gameplay meant that it was a bit of a drag to play after the first 30 or so levels. Shut down the rogue robots, jump over things, avoid beams and rays, earn points. Rinse and repeat, robots.
My first issue with this game arose when I played the tutorial (and yes, I’m one of those losers who plays the tutorial). Problem number one is that it doesn’t make it very clear that you can play single player or with others, and I spent most of the tutorial playing Twister with my fingers to try and maneuver the characters around while using the attacks.
Once I figured out that I can in fact play on my own (insert forever alone meme here), I quickly discovered problem number two: playing single player on a keyboard was impossible. For some reason the water spray just didn’t work, no matter how many buttons I mashed. That being said, judging by Steam it looks like there are some other people experiencing the same issue, so most likely it’s a known bug that’ll get fixed before release. Besides, when I plugged in a usb controller I had no issues with moving my wee robot friend around.
Another thing that I found quite frustrating with Robotto was that you don’t level up, gain new abilities, or find and use items. Sure, the puzzles get a bit more difficult and the enemies get tougher, but Robb and Otto stay at the same basic power level throughout. The game has a ‘classic’ one hit death system, and unfortunately there’s only so many times that you can die on level 56 before you feel like dying for real. I do like that fact that if you do lose all your lives and get the dreaded Game Over screen, you just have to start the current level again, as nothing makes me angrier than having to start from the very start of a game.
Due to the simplicity of the graphics, Robotto ran well on my not-that-great-for-gaming laptop which is a bonus for us filthy casuals. Without a doubt, my favourite part of the game is the soundtrack, which has a classic retro space game feel to it and instantly got stuck in my head; I legitimately found myself beeping it out loud the other day, and now my neighbors think I’m insane. Thanks for that, Robbotto.
A lot of the retro games that Robbotto is emulating at least had different items or abilities you could collect as you progressed through the stages. Even something as simple as having the effects of the energy pulse last a bit longer the higher you go would make a massive difference in the enjoyability of the game. I tend to play older games a lot, and retro games are HARD, like TKO goodbye, do not pass Go, do not collect $200 hard, and that is a part of the fun of retro style games. But with Robbotto the fun part just wasn’t there for that much of the game. There’s a pretty good idea here, but if there were less levels, or a bit more variety, it would make the overall gameplay experience far less robotic.