The story of a robot who kills other robots in the name of love

Review of Roboto
Developer: Fenix Fire
Price (29/7/2011): $2.99
Author’s Rating: 5.5

This game is good for:
Boosting your morale after suffering repeated losses in another game.


Side-scrolling games once dominated the video game industry. Well-known classics like Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog on platforms, and even Prehistorik on the good old MS-DOS, have set the standard for a genre of linear, action based games that many of us have come to enjoy. Indeed, even today, in a world of advanced 3-d graphics, side-scrolling games still have a fan base and allure that some people will never forget.

The featured “iPad Game of the Week” Roboto is one such game, and it comes brimming with action-packed, meticulously illustrated HD graphics. Before you continue reading, you should know that side-scrolling games have never really managed to engage me as their more advanced counterparts such as a good session of FPS or top-down strategy games. I never really quite grasped why people enjoyed trying to force themselves to be able to their button pressing timing perfect, in order to get their character jumping safely from one island to another. Hence, as I began playing it in order to write this review, I had a feeling of trepidation.

And rightly so. 24 hours later, after forcing myself to sit through almost an entirety of trying to survive insidious obstacles and killing enemies in a fashion that seemed all to familiar (or unfamiliar) to me, I can honestly say that I had about as much fun trying to play Super Mario Bros about 20 years ago: not very much at all.

Where else would a robot feel at home but in Mars City.

You begin the game as “Roboto” (duh.) a tiny little robot in the fictional land of  “Mars City” as introduced by the first scene. There did not seem to be any introduction or instructions, but I won’t deny that the controls weren’t difficult to figure out, and perhaps the developers meant it to be that way. Anyway, without any clearly stated mission objectives or goal in mind, I simply assumed (as with all side scrolling games) that I simply had to reach the right most side of the level. Of course, my constant need to find something interesting to do, kept me trying to work out if there were secret passages here and there that would temporarily break me out of the side scrolling hell I was in. (By the way, this was one of the things that kept me sane while playing Mario.) Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any in Roboto, and I ended up dying needlessly while trying to find them.

Every death will see Roboto reincarnated, and will present a death screen that will slowly bring you to understand what on earth is going on. To this point, you will just be mindlessly trying to move eastward, trying to get an idea of the whole picture. In Roboto’s case, the only way to get an idea is to die. It shows you a robo-chick, which I have to assume is not dissimilar to a certain fruit named princess that has relations with two incestuous Italians. At this point you’ll probably figure out that this whole game is about trying to save/rescue/find/woo her.

"I don't go out with losers."

As if Fenix Fire knew of my disdain for side scrolling games, they decided to aggravate me further by making the simple joystick and button interface that you find on many iPad games these days, slightly over-responsive, and very difficult to use. It took me about 10 levels to get used to it, and by that time I was fairly infuriated.

Gameplay mainly consists of jump pads and beams which invert gravity. You gain energy by collecting various energy balls which are usually impossible not to get as they are placed on the platform which you walk through anyway. The energy collected is used for jumping, shooting, and is also your health. However, it is almost impossible to die from an enemy  as you usually die from falling (and of course there are many energy balls around). Also, it would be easier to destroy the cute enemies by jumping on top of them (Mario style) rather than shooting them as you get a pretty violent recoil from shooting.

There are 30 levels in total, and unless you have the reflexes of a blind tortoise, each level shouldn’t take you more than 4 minutes to complete. This provides us with a whopping (sarcasm) total of 2 hours of game time. There are a couple of mini-games that you will stumble on upon your short journey, but if you’ve played and completed a game like Machinarium (the mother of all mini-game games. Highly recommended.) you will find these little more than annoyances.

I did notice an upgrade system where you can upgrade its weapons, armor and abilities if you wish. I found the upgrades rather unnecessary as I managed to complete this on a second run without using them much, so perhaps more emphasis should go to making the game more difficult to get by without them.

Reminiscent of fighting Apocalypse in X-men vs Street Fighter.

I don’t really know how to sum this up without ending on a bad note, but again, this is probably a very biased review, given my history with this genre of gaming. Visually, this game is very refined and well-executed. But at the end of the day, this is not a piece of art. It’s a game. And given how easy it is, it’s probably good to play if you continue suffering terrible losses at Starcraft 2 and you need a morale booster. Go save the robo-chick you loser.

Review by Smoking Crows


1 Response to “The story of a robot who kills other robots in the name of love”

  1. 1 Jewel Averbeck September 18, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Very nice style and excellent written content, absolutely nothing else we need :D.

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