by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
A Robot Named Fight reminds me of “A Tribe Called Quest” – You have to say the whole thing, every time. But I love Metroidvania’s, that’s well documented. So when I saw that A Robot Named Fight is a Metroidvania Roguelite, I was immediately interested. The last one I played, Dead Cells, was absolutely phenomenal, and I really need to go back to playing that. So, I found A Robot Named Fight and oh goodness, did it deliver. There is not much in the way of the story, that’s pretty threadbare. But what it lacks in story, it makes up for in creativity, action, and really does live up to the Metroidvania/Roguelite tags. A lot of games use stuff like that as a buzzword, simply to pop people and get them excited. You play as the titular “Fight”, A robot in a world of robotics. However, this robotic land has been overrun by horrific, organic creatures that spit bile, explode, and are in general, pretty damn annoying.
So every playthrough is a bit different, thanks to procedurally generated content. But it also shows the Seed for each playthrough, which is pretty awesome. All you have to do is enter that Seed/password, and you can try that particular set-up again. The controls feel similar to Super Metroid, in that you use L/R triggers to aim diagonally up and down, plus you can always aim up, and jump to shoot down. To be frank, this game feels like a combination of Super Metroid, Dead Cells, and Super Turrican on the SNES all in one delightful package. The controls are nice and sharp, and Fight has a floaty, Super Metroid jump, where he spins if you move forward while jumping, and stays vertical if you jump then move left or right. I love this jump, but you absolutely have to be careful when using it, because a lot of the platforms you jump to are very small, and that does lead me to one of the next points of frustration.
You start off with a very small HP pool, which is challenging on its own. Thankfully, you get brief invincibility frames when you take damage. The downside is that the invincibility does not last long, By the time the invincibility wears off, the odds of you taking damage again are incredibly high. I have died so many times because I fell onto spikes, tried to jump out of the spikes, only to take damage again. Speaking of damage, there are lots of different types of guns you can find, from rockets to electrically charged shots, and they’re almost always off the beaten path. Early in runs though you’ll be able to tell, because once you’ve seen a type of door you can’t enter, the requisite gun is probably close by. Instead of gaining more rockets for that style of gun, for example, you have a Megaman-style meter (for both health and weapons), and that leads me to how you find things.
There are so many secrets hidden in this game, but thankfully, it’s terribly hard to miss some of them. If the ground/wall is slightly cracked, it’s a very good chance you can shoot through it to walk through to move on/find a secret passage, and if it’s just one tiny crack, that’s probably where you might find a damage boost, a new weapon, et cetera. From different guns, a transformation and so much more, exploring this doomed world is well-rewarded. Defeating bosses also rewards cool upgrades, and should you die while the boss is dying (which has happened more than once), that save file will still have that item start appearing. When you die, you start at the beginning, but you have three save files. Every so often, (when you see a new powerup/healing item for the first time, certain powerups) the game will notify you that in future playthroughs, these things will start appearing.
One More Try: 4.5/5
This is a challenging title, though. Very challenging, but it’s not due to poor controls like the games from the era it’s based on, but a genuine challenge. The bosses have patterns to be aware of, but just because the big beast is dead, it does not mean it’s the end all the time. No matter how many times I’ve died and started over in A Robot Named Fight, I’ve found myself coming back for “One more try”. Every sound effect is horrific and adds a real sense of horror and worry to the game. Every death of an enemy looks gross, with blood, puss, just really vile looking stuff. The graphics hold a lot of nods to games like Doom, Contra, Metroid/Super Metroid. But the actual graphics hover somewhere between the Turbo-Grafix 16 and the Super Nintendo. It has the violence and gross nature of Turbo-Grafix games, with the well-designed areas and depth of SNES games. My gripes/nitpicks are just that, minor nitpicks. Once you’ve died a few times and really learned how the game is played, how to find secrets, it becomes something truly magnificent. It doesn’t punish you, but you do have to learn and grow to succeed. If you love Metroidvanias, Dead Cells, and challenging gameplay, you definitely owe it to yourself to play this on both the Switch or on PC.