A Robot Named Fight! has seemingly found a nice little home on the Nintendo Switch – I mean, it looks and plays just like Nintendo’s legendary Metroid series, which will be enough to get some fans buying the game immediately anyway. The fact that it just so happens to be an enjoyable roguelike action-title helps too, though.
A Robot Named Fight! sees you running across procedurally generated 16-bit levels, all whilst finding new weapons, upgrading your stats, uncovering secrets and, of course, killing lots of enemies. Anyone who has played the 2D Metroid games will know exactly what to expect from the sci-fi adventure, with it feeling the same both in how you attack enemies and how it controls. It doesn’t come with the same exploration and backtracking though thanks to its randomly generated levels, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find barriers in your way at points that you’ll need to use one of your surprisingly versatile upgrades to get past.
Whilst the rooms come in varying shapes and sizes with different traps and hindrances to harm the player, the main threat throughout comes with the constant onslaught of enemies. They come in a pretty strong variety, though extended playthroughs through the game will start to bring some sense of familiarity to the player. At least the bosses are unique and often huge in size – they’re over the top and grotesque too, but in the best way possible.
It’s worth noting that A Robot Named Fight! can be a pretty tricky game, with enemies pummelling you with attacks throughout. Naturally, the more upgrades you get the more chance of success you’re going to have, but even a well-equipped player will succumb to death quite often. Thankfully, it never feels unfair – I never found that poor controls or rubbish weapons were the cause of my death, but rather the fact that I couldn’t handle my adversary. It’s satisfying to get better at the game and see yourself progressing that bit further, but there’ll be plenty of ‘game overs’ in between.
At least the range of weapons on offer means you can always match your foes’ attacks. You’ve got the likes of a flamethrower, rocket launcher, lightning gun, rail gun and laser to blast your enemies to smithereens with, whilst the robotic followers you can unlock or the varied shells ensure you’ve always got the defensive advantage too. Then there are the special abilities like the slide that allow you to get into small areas, the dash that allows you to hit quick speeds, or the double jump that… well… we all know what a double jump does. Your skillset is continually improving throughout, and finding and using these upgrades is always a hell of a lot of fun for the player.
If you like a gamble, there are Oracles scattered across levels that you can give your collected enemy remnants to (you know, the bits that fall off them when you kill them). This can work in your favour and see them reward you with a sweet new upgrade, or they could be dissatisfied with your contribution and decrease some of your stats… harsh, right? Deciding whether or not to interact with an Oracle is down to the player and they can really make or break a playthrough. I had occasions where their upgrade was a real life-saver, but I also had times when their cruel antics made me too weak to stand a chance against the constant onslaught of enemies.
If you’re unfortunate enough to meet your end in A Robot Named Figh!t, you’re sent back to the beginning and lose all of your upgrades… well, unless you find one of the rare save-points on your adventure. Fortunately, any new items or weapons you discover are more readily available for your next run, so you do get the satisfaction of knowing subsequent playthroughs can be a lot easier than the last. It also makes me kinda glad that the game doesn’t embrace the metroidvania backtracking style too much, since losing your gear all the time would be a real pain.
That being said, given that A Robot Named Fight! plays like a metroidvania title, it was a little disappointing that it lacked any real purpose or direction. I’m a big fan of the genre, so I’ve always appreciated seeing my character get stronger or suddenly be able to reach areas that were inaccessible earlier on – you don’t get that same feeling here though, with it prioritising gunplay and platforming more than the sense of discovery. Don’t get me wrong, you do get the satisfaction of seeing yourself grow stronger and you never really know what’s ahead of you thanks to the random design of the levels, but it isn’t as fleshed out an experience as your typical metroidvania title.
It’s a bit of a petty complaint, but given that A Robot Named Fight! is so clearly inspired by titles like Metroid, I almost wish it went a bit more ALL OUT with it. Still, at least it succeeds as a roguelike adventure where you’re supposed to see something different each time.
Developer: Matt Bitner Games
Publisher: Matt Bitner Games
Release Date: Out Now
Format(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PC, Mac, Linux