By Crystal Colwell / June 6th, 2013
|Title: Bad Bots
Developer: Point 5 Projects
Publisher: Digital Tribe Games
Genre: Action, Indie, Platformer
Platforms: PC/Mac (Steam)
Release Date: May 17, 2013
Bad Bots is a retro side-scrolling shooter for the PC and Mac (and mobile devices at an undetermined date). The story of the game revolves around Sam McRae as he wakes up from his hypersleep while traveling on the Titan Hauler. Once awake, Sam finds himself in all sorts of trouble. For starters, the Titan Hauler is on a crash course with Earth. As if that’s not bad enough, the ship’s robotic crew have been reprogrammed and now want to destroy all humans. This is not good since Sam happens to be a human. Poor guy.
As far as the story of Bad Bots goes, I got exactly what I expected. The story consists of a few short scenes here and there that last no more than a few seconds. Sam needs to figure out who made the changes to the Titan Hauler’s route and why the robots have been reprogrammed. He then has to set out on his mission of rectifying what has been done. While the story doesn’t get too deep, to me, the story is not what keeps you coming back to a game like Bad Bots.
The gameplay, however, is what will keep you coming back to the game. I quite enjoyed my experience with Bad Bots. The game’s controls are a breeze and killing the robots offers a simple kind of pleasure that you do not always find in games of this type. From the first second I turned the game on until the last moment I had with the campaign mode, I had fun.
I used my wireless Sony PlayStation 3 controller that I had set up as a 360 controller to play the game. For those who care, my controller is awesomely pink and I love it. I also tried the game out with the keyboard and mouse. While this can be done, it annoys me and I find that I enjoy shooters (or any game of this type) with only a mouse or a controller, rather than the keyboard. This is a personal preference and for those of you who wish to use the keyboard, you certainly can. All in all I had no problem navigating the game with either, but I did have more fun using the controller.
While the game does have you mainly on a straightforward path, I never felt hindered by this. This is not like a JRPG where you have towns to explore and vast lands that hold untold fortunes. You accept at the beginning of the game that you are stuck on this ship and that there are not going to be a lot of places to explore. While for the most part you will be going left or right from room to room, near the end of the game you will need to backtrack a bit to reenter rooms you were previously in. I never really found myself too lost during this time, but you will need to wander around the ship until you find what you are looking for.
Bad Bots visually looks like exactly what it is, a side-scrolling game with a retro throwback. I mentioned in a previous article that the game instantly reminded me of the TMNT or Batman games of the past and after playing the game, I still stand by this. The game features a retro-style that does not entertain the notion of being a graphical powerhouse. The Titan Hauler is in bad shape and features broken bits here and there that reflect what the ship has been through. The robots each have a distinct look that is simple yet pleasing to look at. The first robots you get to kill are mostly red and are holding a knife: which they seem to take pleasure in shanking you with! These robots, once they notice you, will bee-line right for you with their knife slashing as if they are ready to take you on even from afar. The robots with guns begin shooting once they see you. If they are on a walkway that is above you and made of metal, the bullets cannot reach you and you will have a few seconds to swap your weapon, look for health or just examine the room. Other enemies include electrified spiders which run at full pace right at you to zap the life out of Sam.
The sounds of Bad Bots are sparse. You will hear no background music as you play. It is a little weird not to have background music, but as I tend to play games with my own music playing in the background, this is not something that took away from my gameplay experience. The sounds that you do hear include the “pop, pop, pop,” of your guns as you shoot the robots and the thwack of your hammer as you crush them. The robots with knives make a slashing noise when they are attacking you. Robots who have guns make a shooting noise, but one that is different from the noise of your guns. The electrified enemies that look like spiders will make an electrical “bzzt!” as they happily zap the life out of you. Aside from the enemies, you do have some ambient noises, things like mechanical swooshes as doors open and close or the buzzing of the lifts being raised and lowered.
The game features a Campaign Mode and a Challenge Mode, both of which offer loads of robot-killing goodness. The Campaign Mode will obviously take you through the story line of the game. In Challenge Mode, you can chose practice, rush or panic mode. All three challenges require you to survive for 60 seconds as a never-ending swarm of robots emerge. I find myself going back to this mode quite often in the hopes of improving my high score. I am currently at over 4,000 (almost 5,000) for each. Completing all three modes earns you an achievement. You do not have to have a specific amount of points to earn the trophy, you just have to survive the 60 seconds on each challenge.
I find myself going back to this mode quite often in the hopes of improving my high score. I am currently at over 4,000 (almost 5,000) for each. Completing all three modes earns you an achievement. You do not have to have a specific amount of points to earn the trophy, you just have to survive the 60 seconds on each challenge.
Bad Bots offers 13 other achievements, in addition to the achievement for completing the Challenge Mode. Some achievements that you earn are for using a specific weapon to kill a certain amount of robots. Others are earned by reaching 100,000 points between the Rush and Panic Challenge Modes. I currently have 10 of the achievements (as shown below) and I may replay the Campaign Mode to earn the others.
Sam has a variety of weapons to use in the game, but he can only hold two at a time. Your primary weapon is blue in color and shoots one bullet at a time. This may not be the most powerful weapon, but you usually have more bullets for it and will use it quite a bit. What happens is that you will keep your original weapon and swap your secondary weapon out when you find a new one. When you choose your secondary weapon, based on which you believe will do the most damage, you drop the secondary weapon that you previously had. One of the secondary weapons allows you to shoot three bullets at one time, while another is like a shotgun. The other secondary weapon you have is a sort of ray gun. This has no bullets and works a little differently. You “shoot” with it, but it emits a type of ray that hurts the enemies. You get a count of 100 and once you use it up you must wait for it to build back up. This happens rather fast. You are also able to pick that weapon back up if you are still in the same room where you dropped it. If you run the weapon you chose out of ammo, but still need to kill some robots, you walk back to the other weapon and select it again, which makes it usable once more. You can also always rely on your primary weapon in these instances.
A minor complaint that I have about the game is that you only have one save slot. I accidentally started a new game when I should have clicked to continue my campaign, and lost two hours of gameplay. To be fair, the game does warn you that you are about to do this and you have to confirm that choice. I simply got into a hurry and failed to read things clearly enough.
OK, so I promised you guys some ups and downs of my experience with this game. The game’s ending offered me the opportunity to get truly good and stuck. Approaching the end of the game, you’ll come upon a boss fight that is hellish. Once you beat the boss down enough, you’ll figure out what you need to do next. Or so I thought. The mission details clearly state that you should find a way to escape the room and the boss, “Mother” is telling you that it cannot be defeated. OK. I figured I should hammer and shoot the walls or floor until a secret passage was revealed to me. After trying this repeatedly with nothing happening, and all the while “Mother” is killing me, I began to think that maybe the game had a glitch or I had overlooked the obvious. Since my personality rarely allows me to admit defeat, I decided to give this one more try before doing anything drastic, like asking for help.
My anger and refusal to give up paid off in the end. I was able to annihilate the last boss and open up a way out of the room that I was stuck in. I accomplished this with 13 HP! I was overly excited and proud of myself. I jumped up and down accordingly and then progressed on. In truth, I talked smack to the robots in the next room, all the while slaughtering them ruthlessly. I’ll leave the actual smack talk up to your imagination, but suffice it to say that it was not ladylike in the least.
The pros of this game far outweigh the cons. Even if such things as no background music and lack of a stellar story annoy you, the game is still worth a purchase, if only to shoot at some robots! I enjoy PC gaming and often times find that I cannot run newer games on my laptop. With this game I was able to experience a fun game that my laptop was able to handle, as it is not a graphical powerhouse. You now have all of the information that you need to better decide if this game is for you or not. I would recommend the game to anyone and will probably be killing robots for the foreseeable future in the challenge modes.
Bad Bots was provided by Digital Tribe Games for review purposes.
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