Robbotto is a retro-inspired, arcade platformer from Swedish indie developer JMJ Interactive and is currently available on the Steam platform and Nintendo Switch.
Although it doesn’t really detail any of the backstory the game is set onboard a malfunctioning spaceship which is slowly drifting through the vastness of the universe. The gigantic freighter was struck by a magnetic storm causing all of the machines to go a little haywire. Thankfully for us, Robb and Otto the ships maintenance droids were conveniently putting out a fire in the engine room when disaster struck leaving them unaffected by the craziness. Phew. I mean wasn’t a fire in the engine room disaster enough? So now our two unlikely heroes must fight their way through a whopping 100 levels in a bid to save the ship and disable all of the malfunctioning machines that stand in their path. Its a classic buddy tale of two friends trying to right wrongs, save some shit and find themselves in the process, ok I’m just trying to ham it up a bit but you get the idea.
The best way to describe Robbotto is that it very much feels like a loving homage to the all-time classic arcade game Bubble Bobble or even the original Mario Bros. Each level is played on a single screen with complete freedom of movement looping off one side of the screen to return on the opposite end. The game is grouped into sections of ten levels with a boss battle at the end of each. To complete a level you must neutralise all of the other robots, this is done by first stunning them with an electric shock and then dousing them in water. Points can be collected from the defeated upon opening up the end of level teleporter with a bonus score given based on the time taken. You encounter twenty differing enemy types over the course of the game each providing a new challenge, ranging from robots that gun you down, robots that run away to other maintenance droids that repair defeated machines. The bosses come in all shapes and sizes but have the same underlying mechanic of a simple attack pattern, which is easy to learn and can be defeated after three successful hits.
Graphically the game is ultra basic by today’s HD 4K standards but it is very much in keeping with a mid 80’s arcade title. It’s functional, non-offensive but not especially memorable in any shape or form. The characters are well realised in all their pixelated glory with Robb and Otto looking like cheap Johnny-5 (Wall-e for the younger among us) knockoffs. The sound effects and soundtrack again do the job to a reasonable standard but ultimately falls into the same forgettable category. Gameplay is slow so the sluggish controls didn’t become an issue.
As you progress the difficulty spikes, a hit means instant death in Robbotto and with only three lives you need to think wisely. The game can be played on an easier setting and gives unlimited continues making it accessible for all. There is a local co-op mode included so that you can share the experience with a friend and the game also has its own set of achievements.
Robbotto is never going to reach the status of Bubble Bobble, I really can’t see anyone remembering it in the same light and for years to come. The price point seems more than a little optimistic for what is on offer as you can get far more entertaining and better quality games on the eShop for similar money. If you are a super keen fan of this arcade style game then you should enjoy Robbotto but its appeal its going to be extremely niche.
Beard Score: 4/10
Genre: Arcade, Action, Adventure
Players: 1 – 2
Publisher: JMJ Interactive
Format: Steam, Nintendo Switch