Tis the season for XBLA and developers are coming out swinging. Developer Demiurge has tossed its name in the hat with Shoot Many Robots.
You play as P. Walter Tugnut (the “P” stands for “Pickles”), a hillbilly who’s paranoid about an impending robot apocalypse. Walter stores guns, ammo, clothes (armor/stats boosters) and beer (your “health pack”) in a broken down RV preparing for the inevitable D-Day. You battle through side scrolling levels that that range from old mills and factories to dilapidated cityscapes. The developers switch gameplay up by adding in survival levels too. Defeating waves of robots that get progressively harder with tougher baddies is key to victory.
While traversing each level, destroying enemies earn you Nuts (lug nuts of different value) to use as currency. The quicker you disperse your robot assailants, the higher the multiplier goes, earning more Nuts. You also increase Mr. Tugnut’s character level during gameplay which allows you to use stronger equipment before each stage. Shoot Many Robots “sports” several of weapons and armor upgrades. After completing stages, players go back to their RV to check their armories (a shower) for stronger primary and secondary weapons, which may have been unlocked in the previous level. Gamers also get to upgrade their outfits (head, top and bottoms), which can enhance your active and/or passive abilities. The items in the shop are often comical or just simply over the top, usually it’s both. I can outfit Walter with a beer hat, butterfly wings, a tutu, a blunderbuss and a gnome shooter to wreak some serious havoc.
Shoot Many Robots has local and online multiplayer capabilities also. However, 4 player co-op is only available online while local co-op is limited to 2 players. The matchmaking lobby is passable, but lacks the option to search by specific parameters. This means when you play quick match, you can end up with other players who are different levels then you. Every quick match I played, I was matched up with people level 38 and up. At the time, I was only a level 8 so my weapons were too weak for the enemies and I just spent a lot of time in the back running away from the action. In that case, you might be better off hosting your own until you get strong enough to hold your own. However, if you run out of beer in multiplayer or you get downed, you can be revived by teammates. Despite this flaw, multiplayer serves for a great time. Mass robot carnage with 3 other players utilizing their wacked-out gear makes for a great time.
Aside from sounding like a meme, at first glance Shoot Many Robots looks like another side scrolling shooter. Although Contra are Metal Slug rank at the top my favorite arcade gaming series, the genre became a clutter of repeat games with different characters. Shoot Many Robots has gone in a slightly different route by giving the game an RPG feel. You get to see the damage points you deal to robots and even get critical hits. While the weapons and clothing may be odd, they do give players a few sweet abilities – such as an air slam or hover power. Aside from the matchmaking issues and the few times I descended off a building faster than the camera was able to track my character (resulting in a split second where I was attacked off-camera) I had lots of fun playing the game. Shoot Many Robots is priced at 800msp and is a fun game at a fair price. It’s great for fans of the genre and even those who are simply looking for a fun game to pass the time.