Thursday, April 26

Review: A Robot Named Fight! [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Metroid is undoubtedly one of the classic games I remember best from the NES era. I will never forget my sense of wonder at its exploration, challenging boss fights, and a belief that I needed to scour every level to find hidden energy tanks and more. I’m obviously not the only one with those fond memories, as the hybrid Metroidvania monicker gets thrown around with great regularity these days. What I hadn’t seen yet, to date, was an attempt to apply one of my favorite catalysts for refreshing classic play, the roguelike, to this classic formula. After spending a number of hours trying and dying in A Robot Named Fight I’m here to tell you that this mashup is well worth exploring further.

Starting with the Metroid-ness of it all the influences are pretty well everywhere, though they are thankfully not copied outright for the most part. Weapons and suit upgrades are somewhat familiar but also unique to the game, and once you throw in some of the wild enhancements you can receive from the random vendors of sorts you can become pretty formidable. A charged shot, missile launcher, scatter shot, and flame thrower are among the various weapons you may get in any given run, and especially early on the more you play and the further you get the more you’ll slowly but surely unlock to potentially show up in your future runs. Much like in Metroid there are also hidden power-ups all over the place, the advantage being that the area they’re in is displayed clearly on your mini-map so you won’t need to constantly shoot everywhere in the hopes of stumbling onto something, the game gives you a bit of a nudge and it’s appreciated.

Part of the reason all of the help you can get is appreciated is that, this being a roguelike, challenges and potential death are pretty well everywhere. There are runs where you’ll feel like you have a rain cloud above you from the start and then there are those where everything is falling into place until it usually falls apart. Unlike the traditional games where you have a pretty static progression, collecting different suits and enhancements as you go in a set order there really aren’t many rules governing what you’ll run into here. One run you could get a rocket launcher and the dash ability, the next it could be the a flamethrower and slide, what’s typically impressive is that the map is carefully plotted out to generally be sure that you’ll have the tools you need to get through doors or into new areas once you’ve explored a bit. Sometimes you’ll hit things like bosses without much more than you started with, other times you’ll feel almost over-equipped and will wipe the floor with them, the unpredictability is part of the challenge and fun.

While the dynamic map generally works very well there are some problems you can run into. One definite rule worth noting is that you should probably always be sure to go up or sideways, and exhaust your options to do so, before going through any doorways that go down. Until you go through them you won’t be able to predict it but sometimes those doors will take you to a new zone and the fall will be a bit more significant than normal. Since you don’t naturally have a double jump or a wall jump this means you’ll only be able to move forward, potentially having lost a chance to get something helpful if you were careful to explore before going through. Whether this was the cause of running into a dead end of sorts or I just had bad luck as a whole, on a small number of runs I seemed to exhaust all options for progress and get stuck, which was a bummer. Even when it didn’t seem to affect my progress this fall into a new zone relatively without warning before I was ready was one of my bigger irritations, it felt like a sort of cheap trap, especially given the fact that the map can be so maze-like at times and moving down can easily be necessary at times just to navigate through.

Regardless of some quirks and small issues A Robot Named Fight is plain brilliant and consistently pulls me into a “just one more run” mentality with ease. To a degree feeling like a new Metroid-ish chapter full of exploration and surprises every time you play makes it pretty unique and consistently challenging. Of course people who are less accustomed to the way roguelikes switch things up every time may struggle with this, though since the seed is shown for every run you do you could opt to keep entering it so you could play the same instance repeatedly. Truly taking the Metroid experience to the next level, A Robot Named Fight is easy to recommend to anyone who was ever a fan of the original series.

Score: 9

  • A thoroughly challenging Metroid-like experience
  • Maps are dynamically-created every time, making each run unique
  • The more you play and accomplish, the more you’ll unlock

  • There are times when you’ll hit the rougher edges of the random map generation and these can be aggravating
  • While some may like the ever-changing challenge, others may find it overwhelming… though you always have the option to specify a consistent seed if you’d like