Every once in a while, a game comes along that we just want to love, but it has one or two parts that we can’t quite get over. Retrobot is one of those games: it has a charmingly humorous story chock full of videogame references, paired with unique comic book cut scenes. The controls and one bug in particular, however, stick out from these features like a sore thumb, and we hope they’re both fixed.
In Retrobot, a middle-aged kid-at-heart builds himself a robot companion to play videogames with and to help with errands. He finishes building this “Retrobot” just as all other robots in the world organize and rebel (as they inevitably will). You take the reins of the unerringly loyal robot as it battles through hordes of evil robots to rescue its creator.
Just me and my monkey.
The game takes the style of a tank shooter, with your little robot firing endless rounds of ammunition to take down a variety of enemies coming from both sides of the screen. The controls are two simple sliders on the bottom of the screen, one horizontal one for moving back and forth, and one semicircle for shooting.
One of our major complaints was that the shooting control is situated at the very bottom of the screen, which often messes up your shooting angles and occasionally makes shooting horizontally impossible. This is a big problem for a game that relies on throwing enemies at you from different angles in rapid succession, and we found that the shooting control’s placement and small size seriously detracted from the gameplay.
If you do manage to get past the controls, a laugh-out-loud story awaits you at the end of each mission, presented in unique comic book cut scenes. These are where you’ll find the numerous video game references– ranging from Zelda to Minecraft– and meta-dialogue between the robot and his monkey companion that (as game reviewers) we greatly enjoyed.
Nine levels in five worlds comprise the campaign, and while we definitely wanted more than that, we didn’t enjoy the autosave bug that set us back one or two levels every time we put it down and came back to it later. Still, the game provides some more content after you finish the campaign, in the form of challenge and boss mode, which increase the difficulty and task you with churning through the content quickly.
The two major fixes this game needs are technical: the controls need to be either changed or alternative controls should be offered, and the autosave bug should be fixed. Ultimately, it’s too bad that there a technical features holding this game back. If those issues weren’t there, we would be too busy chuckling at the cutscenes and joking about it amongst ourselves to write a review.