By Stacey Flewelling / December 17th, 2014
|Title||Tetrobot and Co.|
|Developer||Swing Swing Submarine|
|Release Date||October 30, 2014|
|Platform||PC, Wii U|
|Age Rating||ESRB – Everyone|
It’s very rare when a puzzle game tickles my brain cells and challenges me as eloquently as Tetrobot and Co. has. Being a puzzle game fanatic, it takes a special blend of ingredients for them to soar to heights that impress me on levels that paste a permanent smile on my face. I thoroughly enjoy it when a game presents itself in a way that has you unsure of what to do, but, somehow, you figure it out and it makes you feel like a rocket scientist. Tetrobot and Co. is a wondrous and intellectually exploitative title that will have you asking, “Wot the heck are you doing in this world, Tetrobot!?”
Tetrobot and Co. was launched into the gaming landscape in October of 2013 on PC and again on the Wii U last October under the wonderful company Swing Swing Submarine. If you’re wondering why that company sounds vaguely familiar, well, it’s because they’re also the makers of the wonderful game called Blocks That Matter. You essentially could consider Tetrobot and Co. a sort of sequel to Blocks That Matter since the tiny, adorable robot in there looks oddly familiar. It kind of makes you wonder if Swing Swing Submarine has a fetish for robotic creatures, huh?
So, exactly what is this game’s concept, you ask? You play as a female scientist who creates nanobots which are placed inside of other robots with the task of fixing them. You’re in a one tile deep maze-like environment, and your goal is ultimately to get from point A to point Z. However, there’s a small — or should I say large — task that you must accomplish before you get to point Z. Something that gamers forget, oddly enough, is that there are twenty four letters in between A and Z, so you’re probably thinking that you have other goals to achieve before you reach that luscious zig zag of a letter. Precisely!
Since I am reviewing the Wii U version, I will explain that the GamePad is your only way of playing this game. You can make use of the control sticks, however, the only way to enter Sticks Mode is to start up the game and not interact with the touch screen at all. You’ll find quickly that the sticks are not a very viable and comfortable input method for the game, so I do not recommend playing this way. The game really was designed with the stylus or some sort of pointer in mind. Much like the PC version, you drag your stylus along or even just tap to the location you want your robotic companion to wind up.
Along the way, you’ll find all sorts of gizmos, pipes, blocks and so forth that will aid you in attaining your sweet prize. For example, you might enter a pipe and wind up in an entirely different area of the map, or you might pick up some blocks and carry them with you to build things to solve puzzles, or (my personal favourite), you’ll enter a launcher and be catapulted across the screen through all kinds of toxic waste and water and end up somewhere completely different. I think the most frustrating aspect of this game’s puzzle solving has to be the backtracking you have to do. I mean, I understand that’s part of puzzle solving, however, I don’t think there’s much reward in sending a player back to an area they had already explored. People generally want to move forward with their journey, not revisit previously familiar terrain. I didn’t let it phase me, though. It’s actually surprisingly satisfying when you return with a tool to aid you in continuing forward on your epic saga through this mysterious world.
My favourite aspect of Tetrobot has to be the sensation that goes through me when I conquer a puzzle. Throughout the game, I became extremely irritated that I couldn’t solve a puzzle, however, once I put two and two together, I felt like the world’s smartest person. A wondrous wave of euphoria blankets me and takes me to my happy place – at least until the next infuriating puzzle begins!
Tetrobot and Co. requires quick thinking, too. There are some puzzles that have reflex-demanding features. If you aren’t swift on your feet, you might wind up having to hit that big ol’ rewind button and backtrack through seconds to as far as even the entire level, which is disheartening at times. It’s a pretty sweet mechanic, if you ask me. It’s basically time travel at its best, but in reverse! You could do it the lazy man way and just restart the whole level from scratch via the menu, but what fun is that when you can watch Tetrobot zip backwards through time and space? It’s action-packed, time travelling fun for the whole family!
I think this game also has a penchant for blocks, as the environment is a block-tiled area and, well, your tools of the trade are blocky in nature except for those pesky pipes. Hey, what are pipes doing in this game anyway? This isn’t Mario! At any rate, the blocks are also a way to manipulate the environment and interact with it. Some blocks cling to walls, some pass straight through, while some others can be loaded into launchers and passed along into different areas of the map. The blocks also have an affinity for each other, as well. For example, a wooden block will cling to a wooden block, but will not cling to a steel block and so forth. You can only imagine how complicated a puzzle could get if this is a method of solving puzzles. Beware of the TNT blocks as they will cause all kinds of mayhem in your quest. Wooden blocks are especially useful when in areas that utilize lasers as they can ignite the wooden block and cause it to burst into flames and disappear over time. Steel blocks, however, can block lasers permanently, making them a powerful block for traversing over the path of a laser.
So, what’s your goal in this vast world? To collect gold pieces to assemble into, well, a gold block and get to the end of the level. This is where most of the puzzle solving comes into play. Some of the gold pieces are stuck in areas that can only be reached by either unlocking areas, fixing leaky pipes for you to go through or any number of other crazy things. Once you’ve collected the pieces, you work your way to the end of the level and you’re done! Each “zone” has maps that must be solved, and, at the end of each of the zones, you have what I’d like to call a key boss puzzle which simply involves you collecting the key, unlocking the door, and escaping with your precious robotic life. The gold pieces are also used as a sort of currency to unlock future levels. You are required to collect a certain amount of blocks in order to continue playing as some areas are locked requiring gold blocks. So, it’s extremely important that you do not avoid collecting these little nuggets and make a beeline for the exit. Doing so will limit how much gameplay you really do squeeze out of this. It really is a collect-a-thon of sorts in that regard. Additionally, the game in general doesn’t take long to beat. I clocked in at about 15 hours of work. Your mileage may vary depending on how smart you are. As I said earlier, you do have to get gold bricks to unlock future content, so you will have to spend time collecting those, as well.
The graphics of the game are very detailed for a game of this calibre. You usually don’t see such well thought out graphics in most indie games these days. Semi-realistic in nature, you feel like you are actually part of this game due to the semi-realism behind the appearance of a lot of the game’s key game mechanics. Some of the levels feature this sticky goo which objects that you are carrying can stick to and it almost resembles jam of some sort. There is a creature in the game that resembles a slime, and it’s kind of cute in appearance and makes me want to snuggle it to death. The lighting used in the game adds a very lush ambience to the levels and really pulls you into the landscape of the game. I have an affinity for electricity, so the electrical currents in this game tickle my eyes in a very pleasing way. It’s really pretty. Also, come on. The Tetrobot himself is sinfully precious. It makes me wish Swing Swing Submarine was a lot more financially well off to produce actual physical replicas of the Tetrobot because I would buy them all up in a heartbeat.
So, what exactly is Tetrobot and Co. doing in this world?! Tetrobot and Co. is here to charm, dazzle and delight you in a game and successfully capture your heart. It will send you to the moon and back leaving you in a state of pure unadulterated bliss. It will also make you feel incredibly stupid and smart all at the same time. It’s a blast of a game, entirely worth the $11 price tag on the eShop. So, get out your thinking caps and go get the game so you can figure out for yourself: Wot is Tetrobot doing in this world?!
Review Copy provided by publisher
Neko Entertainmentswing swing submarinetetrobot and co