I don’t often get the opportunity to wander to random games outside my scheduled appointments during PAX West, but sometimes I find the most interesting games when I do. As I kept walking past the Devolver Digital booth, I saw a game that I at first thought was called Go To Roboto. It was set up like an arcade machine and had an image of what looked like an animal inside a mech. Then on the last day of PAX West, I looked at it more carefully and saw it said Gato Roboto. That was no mere animal, it was a kitty in a mech! And given my love of robots and felines, I knew I had to try it.
The demo starts with an astronaut heading to a planet on a mission. For some reason, he brought his adorable kitty into space with him, and as any cat owner knows, you don’t let cats near buttons. Kitty presses the wrong one, the shuttle hurtles the wrong direction and crash lands. Our astronaut finds himself trapped in the wreckage, but as luck would have it, he’s not our hero. Oh no, our hero is his feline companion, who lands unscathed outside the shuttle. Stranger yet, suddenly the astronaut can understand the cat, and uses his radio to guide kitty towards salvation. And by salvation, I mean a mechanized suit that somehow the cat can pilot!
Yes, if this sounds like Metroid on drugs, that’s probably on purpose. That said, Gato Roboto, while definitely inspired by the classic series, is still it’s own game. For one thing, there’s significantly more humor here than in any Metroid game. For another, the physics are very unique. As you might imagine, a cat might have some issues controlling a giant machine, which is reflected in the slippery nature of your movement. While aiming, you’ll shift around a bit. This is tricky at first, but quickly becomes pretty natural. In the demo, you start out armed with your machine’s blaster but can also find missiles to get an extra jump boost, and eventually an item that lets you perform essentially a double jump.
One of the most unique aspects of Gato Roboto is you’re not stuck in that big old machine. You’re able to manuever around outside of it, and can even climb walls, though one hit will KO you. One puzzle requires the kitty to exit the machine and proceed through a narrow underwater channel that only it can fit through. Don’t worry, they mention how cats hate water early on, but since this cat is a heroic character, he pushes past his fear for the sake of his astronaut. Or maybe he’s just bored from being cooped up in the shuttle. You never know with cats, after all.
Visually, Gato Roboto is reminiscent of a Game Boy title, with simple black and white graphics. That said, each pixel is infused with a ton of charm, and enemies have a lot of variety. It actually reminded me a lot of Downwell, and that’s a pretty big compliment. I was utterly charmed by this game, and am beyond pleased it’s coming to PC and Switch in 2019. If you love Metroidvanias and need something refreshingly new, this is a game to watch.